The day the children joined the Virgin Active Crew and released their inner gorilla!

I used to be fit. I remember it - I used to wear lycra and leg warmers and wear myself out regularly trying to follow a hyper sweat banded impossibly thin woman leaping about to ridiculously loud dance beats. Phew - I'm exhausted just recalling those days.

Jump forward a few decades and after 7 children I prefer gentler forms of exercise like Tai Chi and reaching for the biscuits but luckily my children are much more enthusiastic than me about exercise and love to run, jump, bounce and climb. This means they can also enjoy biscuits but unlike me they remain slim and healthy.

Zuu Chimps class in actionMy girls were very excited this week to be invited to trial a new form of fitness programme as part of the launch of Virgin Active Crew - an initiative from Virgin Active which has gyms across the country. The scheme is aimed at children aged 8-16 offering a fun fitness programme encouraging a positive attitude towards health and fitness for life.

We arrived a the very lovely Virgin Active gym in Acton early on a Saturday morning. I sucked my stomach in as I walked past lots of people making the most of a huge range of facilities and longingly eyed the signs to spa, pool and cafe as I followed my bleary-eyed daughters to their Active Crew session.

Well they soon forgot their early start and after a fun warm up chucking, lifting and dropping heavy bean bags (more fun than it sounds!) they threw themselves whole-heartedly into bear-crawling forward and backwards, frog movements and my favourite, gorilla walking.

The children were encouraged by inspirational father-of-four Nathan Helberg, an Aussie passionate about his work with other humans striving for a healthy life.
madmumof7's daughters with Zuu Chimps creator Nathan Helberg
My girls listening intently to Nathan Helberg

Originally inspired by a desire to develop a training regime suitable for all types of athlete from gymnasts to weight-lifters so he could train with his brother, he developed The Zuu method of training which is designed to liberate human movement and has proved popular with the armed forces and top sports teams for training and motivation.

He went onto develop a similar program for kids which piloted in 2010. Although it is aimed at children Nathan hopes adults will be motivated by their offspring to join in and get fit too.

So - Zuu Chimps. This is no gentle music and movement session. The children are led by specially trained coaches who constantly encourage and motivate and cheer the children on to achieve their best.

This earning mutual respect is a crucial part of the scheme. Zuu Chimps aims to "create a culture of inclusivity, no egos, social interaction, positive affirmations, discipline, respect, leading by example & fun animal moves."

 It was soon apparent that the Zuu Chimp class really does make fitness fun for children. It seemed to encourage competitiveness whilst rewarding individual effort - no losers here! The children jumped and crawled and high-fived their way through an exciting class which soon had them smiling.

High Fives with Zuu Chimps creator Nathan Helberg

The random group of assembled children soon became a team with their coaches and each other and I found myself envious of the camaraderie which soon developed. And fitness wise? I was exhausted watching them!

The girls also got to try other types of fun fitness games which will form part of the Active Crew Programme. My daughters particularly liked the fit lights - iPad programmable lights which you have to touch when you reach them running, stretching, darting about. Think of the 80's Simon game updated and bigger!

They came out of the class starving hungry and full of enthusiasm. I came away with  new resolve to find more active activities for my children nearer our home.

Disclaimer: My daughters were invited to join a Virgin Active Crew taster session at no cost so that Mummy could write this honest review.

This post is linked to #magicmoments over at The Oliver's Madhouse