Meredith Therrien is Certified Youth Trainer currently working with Energetic Juniors, a Manhattan-based program founded in 1996, that teaches kids how to make physical activity an integral part of their lives.
Meredith grew up Lebanon Township, NJ where she was involved in soccer, basketball, street hockey, cheerleading, and dance. Eventually, she chose to focus on dance and went on to graduate from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC for dance theater. After that she spent several years working as a professional dancer during which time she discovered her love of physical fitness. She eventually began working with children and was thrilled to blend fitness and kids.
What programs does Energetic Juniors currently offer?
Energetic Juniors offers handcrafted, individualized, fun personal training sessions for kids and teens in NYC. Energetic Juniors also offers in-home, one-on-one personal fitness sessions led by youth fitness specialists, to help children—including special needs children. The sessions are designed to improve physical fitness, self-esteem, and confidence by teaching general fitness to inactive children and improving the athleticism, strength, and agility of active young athletes.
What is unique about Energetic Juniors?
Energetic Juniors travels to you. I’ve trained in living rooms, bedrooms, parks, gyms, you name it. Every session is also personal, and the trainers really care. We make physical fitness fun, not a chore. We really try to understand the kids and their needs and develop the right mix to keep them enjoying themselves while developing the importance of movement in their everyday lives.
Energetic Juniors makes a point of putting the “personal” in personal training. All the trainers are either Youth Certified or have extensive experience working with children in sports or martial arts, dance and yoga. All have been screened with background checks, personal interviews and verified references. And, each trainer has a degree and/or nationally recognized certification or other appropriate certification. All are CPR certified.
What do you feel is the most important aspect for a coach-athlete relationship to succeed?
Trust. It’s not always easy to develop, but it is so important. I really try to listen to what they really want, what they like, and why they are there. Sometimes children are very nervous the first day and it is so important to make them feel at ease and realize that we are in fact, a team going for the goal together.
How do you make physical fitness, yoga or dance fun for children?
It depends on the child. I’ve used all sorts of things—balloons, bubbles, hula hoops, even their own pet dog. I try to get to know the child and what they like to do outside of our sessions. One child I was teaching yoga to loved superheroes, so we made a whole day of it. We created superhero yoga poses and came up with our own epic story while creating a yoga flow. Kids are so creative and inspiring, they make it easy.
What inspired you to become a youth trainer?
I started working with kids when I was in high school. I spent a couple of years teaching different sorts of classes here and there and then I started becoming more involved in fitness. It seemed like a no brainer. I also realized what a difference a youth trainer could make in a child/teen’s life. I’ve worked with children who have been battling all sorts of issues including bullying, depression and obesity. It is absolutely amazing to see the difference of introducing physical fitness into their lives. It transforms them. There is nothing like it that I have ever experienced before.
How has the landscape of youth sports changed/evolved from when you were growing up?
When I was growing up, I had access to so many sport options. Growing up in the countryside, there was a plethora of options. Some days I would just go in the backyard and play a game of pickle with my brother and his friends, or go down the street and play kickball with the neighbors. It’s so much harder for kids to have that kind of experience these days, in Manhattan especially. Therefore a lot of kids don’t have access to exploring how their bodies move in an easygoing environment. It creates a lot of anxiety for some. I wish they had more access to just play.
What has been your proudest moment as a youth trainer?
That’s tough, there has been a lot. But there was one particular girl who on our first day together told me she felt uncomfortable standing not to mention running or working out. I have been with her for awhile now, and I can say she has smashed all of her running records, created some of her own exercise moves, and I have even seen her teaching her family. It makes me smile every time thinking about how far she has come.
You must have lots of great stories from your years working with kids. Tell us about one that inspired you.
I was teaching a children’s fitness class for five year-olds once and they were taking turns one at a time on the monkey bars. One child was very nervous and didn’t want to try. The kids started chanting you can do it (all on their own) and the child did it. They all erupted into applause afterward. It was so genuine and it warmed my heart to see all of the kids really supporting each other from such a young age.
What was the best advice you got from a coach?
Your main competition is you. It’s easy nowadays to always be comparing ourselves to everything you see in the media. The real victory comes when you break your own records and are better than the day before.
What is your favorite sports venue in New York City and why?
Personally I love to go to Joseph Yancy Track and Field across from Yankee Stadium. There are always lots of everyday people working hard and you get a beautiful view of Yankee Stadium. It’s very inspiring.
Best sports memory?
My older brother used to always play street hockey with his friends and being the little sister, I always wanted to join. I would be goalie in full padding and take on all the big kids blocking their shots. It’s one of the best memories I have as a kid. I had so much fun and felt pretty cool with my goalie mask on too.
To learn more about Energetic Juniors visit www.energeticjuniors.comSee more New York Sports Connection articles
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