Marc Buckhout/The Foothills Focus
Anthem resident Thomas Hill, a one-time professional athlete, now spends time helping kids stay in shape through his new program, Bounce Boot Camp. The program using inflatables takes place Wednesdays and Saturdays at Anthem Community Park. To view more photos from the camp go to facebook.com/TheFoothills.Focus.

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Anthem man offers unique boot camp for kids

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 9/28/2011

Anthem resident Jennifer Huddleston might perfectly sum up what Thomas Hill is trying to accomplish with his new business called Bounce Boot Camp.
“My daughter Lauren absolutely loves the bounce houses and that really keep her motivated,” she said. “She’ll do all the other exercises just so she gets to play on those. They’re working hard, but I don’t even think she knows it because she’s having so much fun. This camp teaches lifelong lessons too about making decisions about eating right and getting enough exercise to be healthy.”
Hill, an Anthem resident and father of three, was working in the inflatables business, renting bounce houses out for birthday parties and other events when he had the inspiration for his current project.
“We had one up in our backyard and my daughter convinced me to get in there and play with her. After about 10 or 15 minutes I’m sweating, I’m tired, my legs are burning and I’m an ex-athlete,” said the one-time Green Bay Packer, who starred at Kansas State. “It was right then and there it dawned on me how cool it would be to design a fitness camp with the inflatables as a centerpiece.”
With three kids of his own Hill said the fact that one in three children in the U.S. is considered obese was all the motivation he needed to dive head first into the project.
“I’ve been working on putting it together for the last three year,” he said. “There are a lot of loose ends that have to be knotted up to make you sure you get things just right. I’m not saying I have everything just right yet, but Anthem is where we want to give it a shot first and so far the feedback has been great.”
Much like boot camps for adults Hill takes his campers, ranging in age from 6 - 14, through a series of station drills.
Some are traditional boot camp tasks such as shuttle drills in which athletes run from cone to cone or walk on their hands while others are more innovative and the use of the inflatables as part of the workout seems to keep the participants going.
“We’ll have maybe four different stations during an hour long workout and we’ll work on hand eye coordination, calisthenics, balance, all sorts of things they’ve never done before,” he said. “We’ll try and keep it unique too so they don’t get bored. We’re at a point where we can’t even get adults on treadmills and Stair masters so you’ve got to be creative to make sure our kids are growing up healthy.”
And the lure of the bounce houses keeps most of them focused.
“The bouncies,” said Grace Martinez, a local fifth grader, when asked why she decided she wanted to give boot camp a try. “I play soccer too, but I like this. We run a lot and do a lot of exercises, but it’s fun.”
Jonathon Klein, a sixth grader at Diamond Canyon, who also plays flag football when he isn’t at Bounce Boot Camp, said the boot camp is something he looks forward to each week.
“Our coaches here are nice guys,” he said. “We like talking to them and they help us out. This is the same kind of toughness as playing football. We do drills where we have to run in place, but coming here is more fun.”
Sandi Carll said that her 11-year-old daughter, Chelsi, enjoys the environment that is created.
“She does things with ballet and theater and this is just something where she can come out and be a kid,” Carll said. “It’s non-competitive. At the end of the very first class she said she was really tired, but she said she was having so much during the class that she didn’t even think about it.”
Beyond the workout and some fun, Hill said his program also stresses the importance of healthy choices.
“I think the reason for childhood obesity being such a problem these days is there are so many more options for kids to be unhealthy from the vending machines with pop and junk food to a restaurant on every corner serving $.99 cent double cheeseburgers. I used to eat the same things growing up, but it was a big deal on the occasions we’d go to those places. It seems today everybody is so busy instead of making a meal at home they just drive through and get everybody including the kids something off the dollar menu. It starts from the top with the parents. Kids can only eat what’s provided for them, but we also want the kids to have information so they can make the right choices when they do have options.”
Hill has 31 campers signed up right now. Parents sign kids up for eight sessions at a cost of $99. Classes are from 5 – 6 p.m. or 6 -7 p.m. on Wednesdays and from either 8 -9 a.m. or 9 – 10 a.m. on Saturdays at Anthem Community Park.
The 5-year Anthem resident said his program has the potential to grow as it is built to be very inclusive.
 “This isn’t something where you have to be super athletic,” he said. “You don’t have to be super fast or super strong, but if they come out and play hard they’ll have fun and they’ll improve their fitness level. I think we’ve got something real special. It’s kind of like a new sport, one that I think could be the new face of fitness for kids.”
Huddleston said some of the parents that have campers in the class have asked Hill when he’s going to start a camp for adults.
“Why should the kids get to have all the fun?” she said.
For information on the camp go to bouncebootcamp.com.