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Fun and Fitness Come to Harlem Regiment Armory

By DNAinfo Staff on October 1, 2011 4:03pm

By Marina Lopes

Special to DNAinfo

HARLEM — The Harlem Regiment Armory was transformed into a giant playground Saturday for the Harlem Children's Zone's third annual Fun and Fit in the City extravaganza.

Colorful mats covered the floors and upbeat hip hop music kept children energized as they raced through activities at the historic building on Fifth Avenue and 142nd Street. From golf to gardening, the day was focused on providing health education for kids and parents.

Tins of carrots and grapes were arranged into pyramids in the center of the room and healthy snacks were distributed throughout the day.

"Kids learn from their parents," said Devonie Nicholas, spokeswoman for the event. "It starts from the top down. When parents learn about healthy living, they teach their kids."

Ten small bodies twisted into triangles in one side of the room where Harlem Yoga Studio instructor Erica Barth taught a 15-minute lesson complete with breathing exercises and chanting.

Davon Holmes, 45, joined her 3-year-old daughter on the yoga mats.

"Our community, we have limited athletic resources and the ones that are available are expensive," she said. "Anytime they have free ones we attend."

Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito demonstrated how to make healthy pizza hot pockets.

Nadine Williams said she and her son, Nekhi Dickens, who helped DiSpirito with the cooking lesson, needed to learn how to cook healthier meals. 

"He is overweight," she said. "So am I, but I'm 43. He is nine years old."

DiSpirito emphasized that comfort foods can be healthy if parents learn to cook with leaner ingredients.

"I cook what I know, what I've been taught," Williams said.

Twenty other local businesses participated in the event, which was expected to draw 2,000 people.

"You always learn something about food or fitness at these events," said Norma Rosato, 62, whose 18-year-old daughter has been attending Harlem Children's Zone since the third grade.

"I take what I Iearn, bring it back with me and teach others I know."