Balanced Family Academy is a new concept that will make the lives of busy people much easier and much healthier. Owners Rebecca Handley, mother to one year-old Jack, and Sarah Fite, mother to two year-old Benny and four month-old Griffin, designed this concept with busy parents in mind.
We want to provide a way for parents to get their workouts in and stay healthy without having to sacrifice time with their kids. – Rebecca Handley, Balanced Family Academy
Rebecca was a pharmaceutical rep for five years, then had her son, Jack, in January 2013. She went back to work in April that year and found it extremely challenging to balance family, work, and health. It was near impossible to get a workout in, and she was training for a half-marathon that year.
Sarah, Rebecca’s sister, was also a pharmaceutical rep and faced the challenges of working full-time and spending quality time with her children, all while keeping her body healthy and in good shape.
Sarah and Rebecca live very close to each other, and their parents aren’t too far away; but even with the family support, both Sarah and Rebecca still learned (as all new parents do) that time speeds up exponentially when you have a kid, and you can cram less and less into a day.
“I kept thinking, How in the world do parents get a workout in?” Rebecca said.
As parents, Rebecca and Sarah still prioritize exercise in their lives. They know how important it is to keep their bodies in good shape so that they can function at home and at work. But they also know there is a better way to balance everything so that everyone in their lives benefit.
“Night after night, Rebecca and I would try to figure out our lives together,” Sarah remembers. “One night I’d take all the kids and make dinner so that Rebecca could go running, then the next night we’d switch. It worked for a while, but we knew there was a better way. So, we came up with a bunch of ideas on how we could help families find more balance in their lives.”
After much thought, Rebecca and Sarah collaborated and brainstormed ideas on how to help parents take care of themselves while raising their children and working.
“There is a guilt about working out and not spending maximum time with your kid,” Rebecca reflects. “Parents think, ‘I only have two to three hours to spend with my child after work. I shouldn’t be working out, I should be spending quality time with my child.’ But the truth is, parents need an outlet. They need to make sure they take care of themselves. One hour at the gym makes those two to three hours with their family so much more enjoyable.”
Rebecca is a health and fitness guru, and was interested in opening a fitness center that offers group classes. Sarah has a degree in early childhood education, and was interested in opening a new quality child care center. The sisters decided to merge concepts and create a child care center with a fitness center on the side – and not the other way around.
Oftentimes, fitness centers are focused on adult fitness, and they sometimes have a separate room where parents can leave their kids while they workout.
Balanced Family Academy is the opposite. It is primarily a child care center, and has a separate fitness room where parents can take group classes when they drop off or pick up their children.
Balanced Family Academy also offers healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner items to-go, so that parents don’t have to sacrifice health for time. Such items include smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, salads, and homemade soups and bread. When a mom drops her child off in the morning, she can get her workout in and have a healthy smoothie before heading to the office. Or when she picks her child up after work, she can do her workout and grab a healthy dinner to take home to the family.
Balanced Family Academy essentially shifts the focus from fitness center with child care center to child care center with fitness center. Their mission and tag line is to make “more time for what matters most.”
The Challenge Of Finding Quality Child Care
Any new working parent knows this: It is so hard to get your child into a quality child care center center. The waitlists are so long.
Rebecca and Sarah remember their challenge to find a quality child care center center for their children. “Most people need to get their kids into a child care center when they are newborns; otherwise, it becomes near impossible to get them in after.”
After dealing with the find-quality-child-care-quick-before-I-have-to-go-back-to-work challenge themselves, Rebecca and Sarah knew there was market for more quality child care centers in their neighborhood and a child care center that provided nutritious choices for both the children and the parents.
Thus, Balanced Family Academy is dedicated to providing quality care and real, wholesome, fresh food to children and parents.
How Balanced Family Academy Works
During the day, the fitness space at Balanced Family Academy is used as an activity area for the kids to play and participate in fitness activities. Especially in places like Ohio, when the weather is bad, kids typically don’t get to expend all their energy outside.
The ample square footage of the fitness space allows the kids to use their energy in productive ways that promote health and well-being. This not only creates happier little children, but it helps with the overall childhood obesity epidemic throughout the United States.
During drop-off and pick-up time, the space becomes an area for adult group fitness classes. The group will use the Les Mills concept, which Rebecca has grown to love.
“Les Mills classes are good for people who haven’t worked out in a while because they are not intimidating, but they don’t take away from the experienced person either.”
Les Mills classes are choreographed to music and are suitable for both men and women, from beginners to experienced people alike. The classes are repetitive enough so that you can learn the routine easily and focus more on working out than choreography; but, the routine is changed quarterly in order to keep things interesting and prevent boredom.
Essentially, parents get quality child care center, fitness, and food all in one location. There are so many obstacles for achieving all three, but Rebecca and Sarah eliminate those obstacles and provide parents with the opportunity to take care of themselves and their children at the same time. They also provide an opportunity for parents to act as positive role models for their children and get their kids into healthy habits at an early age.
A Community For Working Families
Balanced Family Academy is not just a place for parents to plop their kids while they work all day. Instead, the Academy is geared toward community. Rebecca and Sarah want to use the Academy to build a supportive and friendly community for people with similar lifestyles.
“When you become a parent, your whole life changes.” Rebecca knows this first-hand. “So, it’s nice to spend time with people who can relate to what you’re going through.”
The facility is still under construction, but the estimated grand opening is scheduled for August 1, 2014, just in time for the new school year. The address is 5150 Reed Road in Columbus, Ohio. Visit www.balancedfamilyacademy.com and sign up to receive information on the official opening.
(photo credit: balanced family academy)