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Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

WNBA Fit Program

Ashlee Folsom, storm.wnba.com | May 30, 2008


REDMOND -- Storm players Katie Gearlds, Tanisha Wright and Shyra Ely hosted the first of three WNBA Fit Clinics this season . The players took time out of their Wednesday afternoon to visit Evergreen Junior High School, sharing their basketball expertise and how to lead a healthy lifestyle with more than 40 kids from Redmond-Sammamish and Kirkland area Boys & Girls Clubs.

The day started out with Gearlds speaking on the topic of fitness, exercise and self-esteem before the youngsters were split into groups by age and sent to one of the four stations at the clinic.

"Each station -- cardio, strength training, core and healthy eating are all important components of being smart, being fit," said Ely, who was at the cardio station. "I think my station was a little more important because it focused on basketball skills."

The kids learned about their heart and lungs before they were off to the races, dribbling to half court and back with Ely cheering them along the way.

"I think I sweat as much as they did," she said.

After each rotation Ely huddled her group together for a “Be Smart, Be Fit” cheer. Wright tried to outdo her teammate with a “Go Storm” rally from the kids at her core station, all in the spirit of teamwork.

"My favorite part of today was seeing the kids work out. I did the abs section so seeing them try to really maintain their abs and do the exercise was fun," Wright said. "I went to school for education so being around kids is something that's very natural for me.”

Over at the strength training post, Gearlds could be seen doing squats, lunges and push-ups right alongside the children.

"It's definitely a good time to get out in the community because we have such a great fan base. Anytime you get a chance to work with kids it's going to be a great time," she said.

Not only did the children work up a sweat with the Storm, they got a healthy treat.

The groups entered the purple Kids Pick mobile with a giant piece of broccoli on the side to learn proper daily nutrition and sample healthy snacks from new program sponsor PCC Natural Markets. Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Strawberries n’ Cream Kefir was the favorite among the crowd.

"I sampled some of the food; it was pretty good. As a professional athlete, you definitely have to watch what you eat, so it was good to get some new snack ideas,” Gearlds said.

After the rotations concluded, the kids got the chance to win a custom-fit bicycle helmet provided by Seattle Children’s Hospital by answering questions from the Storm players about what they had learned. A few winners answered Storm trivia like when the WNBA Championship was won or naming other players on the team.

Along with recipes, magnets and stickers from PCC, participants received a goodie bag filled with a jump rope, fit journal, Storm pencil, pocket schedule and water bottle, which all of the children had autographed by Gearlds, Wright and Ely.

Former Boys & Girls Club member Ely summed up the experience. "A lot of us got started in Boys & Girls clubs - I know I did. It's important that we keep that connection because this is where we start."