Imagination. It’s Role in Fitness

By Ethel Baumberg

MPH, BA, Co-Owner Flyaroo Fitness


The concept of #DreamBIG derived from a fleeting moment of clarity when we (FLYAROO Fitness founders Ethel Baumberg and Ashley Spicer) said out loud, “There’s a need for imaginative, fun fitness programs for kids aged 18 months-10 years; let’s imagine what that would be like.” From that moment on, we were using our imagination to envision ourselves years down the road, developing and selling a preschool fitness program that could touch the lives of thousands of children. Having dreams and aspirations is a result of using your imagination and visualization to create a long-term goal.

Imagination begins with the young child who plays pretend, recreates past memories, and adjusts those experiences in a present or future context. For example, preschoolers who are at their peak of imaginative play can be found playing games of hot lava, house, or school. These are past experiences or modeled behaviors that are formed to play a role in their lives that are pleasant and enjoyable. Fitness programs that utilize imagination are relating an idea that is familiar to the child with a physical activity that is beneficial to the well-being of that same child. In the FLYAROO Fitness program, instructors use the theme-based curriculum, such as going to the beach, to create a scenario in the classroom. A playlist that is also based on the theme corresponds with the program, and imagination is instantly ignited. Similar to playing house and modeling the family behaviors and roles, the fitness program uses the themed classes to create roles for children. When we go to the beach, we also use our pleasant past experiences to recreate imaginative play. Children dance in the sand, surf through the waves, cannonball off the cliffs, and build sandcastles—all with their minds and bodies in the classroom.

Once children hit adolescence, they are more likely to abandon their imagination and begin using visualization to create their future. Programs that use sports to build self-esteem, confidence, character, and athleticism use visualization to help kids place themselves in the future. Coaches use techniques such as hypotheticals to inspire their team to believe that they can win and to ask themselves what it would feel like if they did win. The entire technique is based on the idea of using your mind to create an idea of what your future could entail. With the mind rehearsal in play, the body is more likely to perform those skills needed to reach goals. Using visualization to imagine a future event, the athlete builds confidence in their performance.

Listed below are 2 ways for coaches and trainers to implement visualization into their programs:

  1. Ask your team members to envision themselves playing in the next game. Which skills do they feel will help them win the game? Do those skills need improvement now? How do they feel about their skills now versus playing in a future game? Use those hypotheticals to drill your team for the next win.
  2. Ask your team to imagine themselves in 1 year from today. Children will have a more difficult time with this task, so paint a picture for them. Do they see themselves playing this sport? Another sport? Are they sitting out on the bench or playing in the game? This is a broader way of thinking, but the visualization will help them understand where they are now versus the future.

The benefits of envisioning themselves in the future outweigh the time allocated to work on visualization. Every team member must be able to use their imagination to build on their skills today for a brighter future tomorrow.

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