This blog is meant to encourage people to be more active and healthy. I feel like I have found something that I'm very passionate about. As much as I encourage strangers to be healthy, I want my own family to be healthy. I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon watching my seven year old daughter's cheer practice. She doesn't cheer for her school, she cheers for a private gym. As I watch her and her team, I realized what a benefit this has been for her.

My wife had been a dance teacher for many years. She had to stop when she started nursing school a few years ago. When my daughter was about 18 months old, my wife started taking her to dance classes. Anna did dance until she started cheer a little over one ago (she also had about two years of gymnastics mixed in).

Putting her in cheer at a private gym was a big decision. Not only was it a big time commitment but also a big financial decision. On a normal week they hold two practices. When competition season rolls around, they practice up to four times a week (for at least two hours). Some may say that it may be too much for a child but I believe she has benefited greatly from being on this cheer squad. My wife and I are always encouraging no matter what. And we always make sure that her schoolwork does not take a back seat to cheer.

Last year, Anna was new to the sport. She was shy and not as skilled as some of the other girls. She was on a team that had a mixture of talent and spent a lot of the year in the back when doing the routine. This year, it's almost the complete opposite. She has grown by leaps and bounds as far as her skills go. I see her emerging as one of the leaders on her team. At a couple points during the routine, she's front and center and teammates even look to her for cues.

While being on this cheer squad, she's also learned to deal with disappointment. Not every practice goes well. They don't place in every competition. Last year was definitely a roller coaster as far as competitions go. The team never gave up and never settled. When they went to nationals at the end of the year, I saw the best cheer routine they had performed all year. Then they performed it again the next day. The year could not have ended any better, they ended up winning nationals. More importantly, we saw how much Anna has grown in that year. And we continue to see it now.

I believe it is so important for our children to see their parents also active. My son has tried several sports and didn't seem to find his groove until he tried gymnastics, He was always the type to enjoy soccer practice or ice skating while he was doing it, but he would never want to go to practice or say he did not enjoy it afterwards. After his first day of gymnastics, he came back so excited and wanting to do it every day. My three year old daughter has been begging to start ballet lessons (she starts next week).When she sees me getting ready to head out the door to go for a run, she asks if she can run with me.

I have never been athletic in my whole life. I was never good at soccer, coming from an Argentinean family, saying I didn't want to play soccer anymore was about the worst thing a son could say to his dad. I'm so glad that I found running while my kids are still young. I want them to see that their dad is active and can keep up with them. I may not be skilled in the same sport that they may be but I want to be a positive example in their lives in many ways.