Fitness center’s new parent-child room emphasizes active lifestyle

  • Published
  • By Maj. Roxy Hambleton
  • 482nd Force Support Squadron

The Sam Johnson Fitness Center at Homestead Air Reserve Base has just opened a Parent-Child Room for use by all 482nd Fighter Wing personnel, tenants, and retirees. 

The new area will afford parents the opportunity to work out while watching their child or children play in an adjacent area separated by a 3-foot glass wall. 

The idea came to Dr. Jennifer Piffarerio, the 482nd FW Commander’s spouse and her friend, Elisabeth Patrick, whose husband is Tech. Sgt. Sam Patrick, a weapons specialist with the 367th Fighter Squadron. The friends worked out regularly last spring in the Sam Johnson Fitness Center when their sons, Bryce Piffarerio and Noah Patrick, both age 6, were in school. But when school ended, so did the opportunity to work out. 

“During summer break” said Dr. Piffarerio, “we were out in the playground by the gym and saw some parents taking turns watching each other’s children so they could have some time at the gym.” That gave them the idea to suggest a PCR where parents could work out in one half of the room and be able to keep an eye on their children playing safely in the other half. 

They realized that Homestead ARB could benefit from such a concept. Brig. Gen. Piffarerio and Dr. Piffarerio have been able to experience first-hand the importance of having a PCR from previous assignments where this arrangement is an option at the base gym.   

To Dr. Piffarerio, it is important to model an active lifestyle to her son.

“It’s important for our children to see their parents embrace a healthier lifestyle and it’s important to us for Bryce to see us work out,” said Piffarerio. “I believe if children see their parents exercise they will in turn also realize the importance of an active lifestyle.” 

The PCR will be in the former spin class room. On one side parents can work out with both cardio and strength training equipment such as an elliptical, a treadmill, and stair steps, along with weights: dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells with plates, a bench, and a squat rack.

“And from every angle, as parents work out they can keep an eye on their little ones,” said Dr. Piffarerio. 

The children’s half of the room is a safe, clean space where children can play with other children or entertain themselves with games, a television with DVDs to watch, a small “lounge” area, or toys for infants, toddlers, and children.

“Parents are welcome to bring toys for their children to share,” said Mr. Quinton Floyd, the 482nd FW Fitness Center Director, “as long as there are no crayons or markers that could damage the area.” Floyd said the PCR would welcome donations of gently used toys, books, and DVDs to make the area more enjoyable for the children. 

“Safety is of the utmost importance to staff at the fitness center,” said Floyd and emphasized a strict adherence to the rules as mandatory. Parents are responsible for the supervision of their children when using this area. Parents may bring children up through age eight to the PCR. 

Construction on the project began in May and Floyd worked in conjunction with base personnel to have the project completed by the time Christmas break came about. The facility is open to all DoD-ID card holders including tenant units, 482nd FW military and civilians, and retirees.

“I think it’s a great program because it allows families with kids to work out and it’s good for the morale and fitness of the members of the wing,” said Floyd.

“Part of my efforts on base are to try to get HARB to be more 'family friendly’,” said Dr. Piffarerio, who also envisioned a family-themed Christmas tree lighting celebration.

She pitched the idea to the Airmen & Family Services Director, Ms. Wanda Symons, on the tree lighting celebration and the results were impressive! Due to Ms. Symons’ efforts and hard work, countless families enjoyed a highly successful event with a bounce house and many kid-friendly activities. 

For the Patricks, the PCR affords the young family the opportunity to work out together.

“What I look forward to the most,” said Patrick, “is to work out with my husband. We always took turns and now we can go together!” 

The Patricks, who have been stationed at Homestead ARB for one year, share that their son, Noah, is also excited to “work out” with mommy and daddy and meet new friends.

“I love that he will see us working out in the same area and realize how important it is to remain active at any age,” said Patrick. 

The PCR opened on December 18 and will be available during normal operating hours (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.) Monday through Friday when the fitness center is staffed.