I am strong.
Believe that every child has a strong body and a strong mind.
Believe that every child has limitless potential.
Believe a child can change the world.
Meet Denise Holan, PT, DPT, OCS – owner and physical therapist at Rock Health and Wellness at 524 Westfield Avenue in Westfield, NJ. She’s a “Cranfordian” mommy extraordinaire and is the co-creator with her husband, George, of a new fitness program debuting in the area that can benefit every child! More and more the focus in our country is helping children with resilience and positive affirmation. We realize that it isn’t about making sure our children achieve perfection at everything, but how to help them when they don’t always make that 100% on the test, or get picked for the soccer team, or land the lead in the school play. Children also need tools to help them realize that they’re going to be okay no matter the outcome. It’s how to prepare our children to succeed in this crazy world – to be able to get back up, brush yourself off, and start all over again. Realizing your worth, having a positive self-outlook, and being able to recover from a loss is much more important than being the best at everything.
Denise realizes this important virtue and wants to help children love themselves from an early age. Denise is a manual orthopedic physical therapist and a holistic health coach. She has “13 years of experience as a physical therapist followed by years of personal training experience and countless personal athletic endeavors from playing Division 1 lacrosse, to qualifying as an elite triathlete, to participating in 5Ks to marathons”. Denise’s passion in life is to “use the science of exercise and nutrition and the art of health coaching to optimize the health of the women and children”.
She offers so many wonderful programs focusing on sports injury, recovery, and rejuvenation of the mind and body. However, her experience teaching young children positive affirmation and fitness go back many years. Denise spent 16 seasons as a coach for Girls on the Run and then served as the Union County Director of this fabulous program. Girls on the Run’s primary focus is empowering young women through exercise and team building activities. “It’s all about expressing your unique gifts and is a wonderful character-building program,” commented Denise.
She and George (who is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Rock Health & Wellness) live in Cranford and have their practice in Westfield. They have three beautiful little girls. The family practices “whole and happy living” together. Their oldest daughter, Layla, was born with a neurological condition and has been receiving multiple therapies since birth. Her shining personality and determination is what inspired both of her parents to create a program to help every child feel confident and have a healthy body inside and out. Denise explained that it was difficult finding a child’s exercise program for her own daughter. With so many recreational programs geared towards being “exercise-strong”, she found it difficult to find a community program for a child with special needs or one that was more about team building and not individual strength. Denise and George went to work researching the best exercise programs that also incorporated positive affirmation, team building, and overall fitness.
What they created is an amazing program called “I Am Strong”. Denise commented, “We really feel that this is a “positive, uplifting educational program!”
The program’s mission:
“We inspire all children to embrace their own unique gifts, to encourage their peers, and to give back to their community through an experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates HIGH INTENSITY EXERCISE.”
The program is 10 weeks long, with one session per week. Each session is going to have a positive affirmation theme like I AM STRONG, I AM KIND, I CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. This theme will be shouted, sung, and reiterated many times throughout the session.
Each class will be 45 minutes long and will be held at the Rock Health & Wellness studio in Westfield (524 Westfield Avenue).
A class will look like this:
- Ice breaker/ team building games
- A bout of relay exercises
- Discussion about the day’s affirmation, what it means, and how it applies to their life
- High intensity exercise drills, which are shown to be the best exercises to improve attention and focus required for the aggressive school demands
- Stretching and debriefing about how their positive affirmation theme can improve a child’s perception of him/ herself, friends/ family, and the community at large.
Examples of games might be “real life rock, paper, scissors” where the children act out the game in teams, different variations on tag, burpees, and jumping jacks. The children can “catch” a fellow teammate being “brave” and act out how they might show this virtue in different situations.
Denise wants to make sure that the parents feel connected to each session. All parents will be given guides and weekly emails. She wants the entire family to “keep active” and discuss the themes over dinner conversations! Denise also wants everyone to remember the classes take place in a “non-competitive environment and the concept is to just have fun!”
Do think that you have children that would love to participate? Siblings are FREE!! Small classes at reasonable prices kick off January 18th and occur once per week.
Ages 2.5-5: Thursdays at 10am
Ages 4-6: Saturday at 3p
Ages 7-9: Saturday at 2p
Cost for 10 weeks is $150
The link to Rock Health & Wellness and the I Am Strong registration is found here: https://rockhw.com/i-am-strong/
I absolutely applaud Denise and George for making the move to create such a positive and unique program for children of all abilities. Their plans for the future to take the classes outdoors in warmer weather sound amazing! We can all use help with our positive inner dialogue and how to love ourselves while getting fit at the same time! Do you think she can make room for us grown-ups?!!