Mum’s core goal to keep kids active

Give these fun family workouts a crack during lockdown

CORE ACTIVITIES: COREjnr founder Samantha Pappas, 36, facilitates exercise stations with her children, from left, Kate, 7, Rebecca, 9, and Luke, 5 in her Mill Park studio
CORE ACTIVITIES: COREjnr founder Samantha Pappas, 36, facilitates exercise stations with her children, from left, Kate, 7, Rebecca, 9, and Luke, 5 in her Mill Park studio

Keeping fit during SA’s  21-day lockdown should not just be a priority for adults, but for kids too, says COREjnr owner and founder Samantha Pappas.

Port Elizabeth resident Pappas, 36, is married and a mom to four children ranging from  five to 11 years old.

“We joke and liken our family to a  fruit salad where you have a bit of everything in every bite.

“I love my big family and we are all active in a wide variety of sports and cultural activities,” she said.

Pappas is a former teacher who taught in Johannesburg for 12 years.

“My career path did a major detour to get me into fitness and children.

“I qualified with honours in psychology and then I proceeded to study foundation phase teaching.

“It was teaching that led me to focus on children’s muscle tone, core strength and physical ability.”

COREjnr was developed in Johannesburg and has grown ever since Pappas and her family  returned  to Port Elizabeth, their hometown.

 The COREjnr idea was originally developed to supplement other therapies or act as an alternative therapy choice for children who were exclusively needing physical strengthening and intervention.

“It was surprisingly well supported and from there grew into the multifaceted business it is today.

“It is pleasing to know that some schools  have identified that there has been a rising trend of increased low muscle tone, inattentiveness and weaker core strength in children coming through the generations into the school systems.

“There are a lot of reasons for this — science, genetics, society and lifestyle changes from decades ago,” she said.

“COREjnr also has the private therapy facet that is more an intervention-based outcome for those children needing more intensive muscular development or strengthening, or to assist with a disability or some sort of  recovery.”

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Image: supplied

According to Pappas, research keeps pointing back to the importance of a strong core.

“A person’s core includes one’s front and back muscles as well as the adjoining muscles that support the upper and lower limbs.

“This just shows that the core is the central powerhouse or engine for the human body.

“The stronger the core, the more control and speed one will have in the limbs.

“It’s no good having powerful arms and legs if you don’t have the engine power [core strength] to use them in a controlled,  co-ordinated manner.

“In  young children, core strength refers mostly to the transverse muscles and back postural muscles.

“These are the muscles that a child needs to keep themselves upright and seated still at a desk or cross-legged on the mat in the classroom.

“Young children don’t need a six pack.

“They need stability, anchoring muscles to support their growing bodies and be able to meet the demands made on them,” she said.

“We all know how demanding school and sport can be on a child and I feel that by laying a sturdy foundation of strength, co-ordination, stamina, and good posture  the whole schooling experience can be made easier.

“Most importantly, prevention is better than cure.”

The Mill Park resident’s COREjnr programme is used in most schools around Nelson Mandela Bay.

“There are schools that are proactive and have the timetable availability and resources that allow the COREjnr programme to be incorporated into their curriculum and is a compulsory part of their weekly routine.”


Now that schools are closed for an unknown period, Pappas has suggested a few activities parents can do with their children to keep  them fit.

“The key for an effective yet simple 20-minute routine for children during lockdown would be to include all parts of the body and it should  be dynamic to avoid boredom.

“Create six stations — skipping, superman, monkey running, crab walking, v-sit holds and balance on alternating legs.

“Aim for three rounds of this circuit and then the next day change it up by including different exercises or speeds, or add in star jumps or other exercises in between the stations.

“Adapt the duration of the stations and the number of rounds according to ability level.

“Aim to  include upper body, tummy, back, lower limbs, co-ordination and balance exercises for each circuit.

“Other activities that I will be doing with my children during this lockdown period is making use of the dance element in movement.

“Dancing, whether it is ballet or hip-hop or just free movement, is all movement and this also taps into self-expression through movement.

“Being creative is a great way to engage children to be physically active without them being aware of it.

“I sometimes put the ball in my children’s court and tell them to create a circuit for myself and the others to do.

“A bit of healthy competition between siblings is also a good motivator to get them physically moving,” she said.

“Winter sports are looming after the lockdown, so getting that extra practice and improving the hand-eye co-ordination is a must during this period.

“Hockey, netball and tennis can all be included in daily exercise games and routines.

“Another aspect of physical development that is often overlooked in young children is flexibility.

“The internet and social media has been flooded with ideas and videos and streams of all the at-home, no- equipment exercises.

“We should all make use of these and be creative,” Pappas said.