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Child's Play

Kids are shaping up.

The young and the restless no longer are--restless, that is. Now that kids spend ever-increasing periods of time working on computers--to say nothing of the hours spent glazed over in front of the television--it's becoming clear that couch-potatoitis isn't an adults-only affliction. Alas, many of today's kids are sedentary enough to sprout roots.

"When I was younger, we'd play outside," observes Latrice Lee, 41, founder of Chicago-based Pre-Fit Inc., a 48-unit franchise that takes children's fitness programs to day-care centers. "Now, if a child isn't involved in some kind of team activity, they're not getting any exercise at all. In most states, [physical education] isn't even a requirement."

Enter the trend toward organized physical activity programs such as Lee's--as well as exercise equipment modified to meet the needs of junior Jane Fondas and pint-sized Arnold Schwarzeneggers. "Everybody's interested in it," says Lee, who also recently launched a children's health club in Chicago. She hopes to open additional Children's Health & Executive Clubs later this year.

But how do you get this sedentary generation of kids pumped up to, well, pump up? According to Lee, it's not as difficult as it seems. "We make everything fun," she says, revealing the secret to her company's success. And, yes, that approach results in many healthy returns.

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Child's Play.

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