Local resident Keith Oden has been a personal trainer for six years. After being asked about children’s fitness multiple times by his clients, Oden decided to create something they could use to get their kids excited about exercising.
“A lot of clients have children and would ask about ways to get their kids involved in exercise at an early age, and I saw a gap there,” Oden said. “I have a background in music and production, so I figured I’d come up with it and write it to fill that void and answer those questions.”
Oden began work on a book, researching the types of exercises that kids could do and decided on a space theme after seeing his nieces and nephews working on a school project where they had to build a styrofoam solar system.
“I grew up in the ‘ET’-era and (space was) always something I gravitated toward,” he added. “Kids tend to gravitate toward aliens and space, too, so (the book) is based around two alien brothers who like to exercise around the solar system.”
Soon, he had the concept in place, and had created “Fitz & Fry’s Galactic Workout,” where the characters use the various elements of the solar system to work out, such as running laps around Saturn’s rings and doing pull-ups on Pluto.
Start to finish, it only took Oden about a week to write the book. He then connected with RM Florendo, an artist in the Philippines who had already illustrated various other books, through a friend, and it took them another couple weeks to create the book’s illustrations, he said.
As a personal trainer, Oden described his job as getting his clients “through something that is not always fun and seeing the confidence return to them,” which is exactly what his goal was through the book with the help of Fitz and Fry.
While the book is written in rhymes to appeal to children, the illustrations also help to demonstrate some of the exercises discussed in the book so kids can follow along easily, according to Oden.
“I wanted to write a book that if teachers wanted to use it in class, they could read it then do the exercises,” he said. “If there’s a way to introduce (exercise) to them at an early age, it gets them in a better (fitness) habit while letting them express themselves.”
Since the book was completed, Oden has read it at a couple of local elementary schools, and said feedback has been positive.
“I would read a page and then ask if they know how to do the exercise,” he added. “Then we’d do the exercises … You’d have the kids doing squats and, by the time you’re done with the book, they get a short workout without really knowing it.”
Oden completed the book in 2015, and since then, has written follow-up stories with the same characters and similar, health-related topics.