Maybe Kids DO have the Answers to Fitness

Whether you touch the life of one person or reach out to millions, people across America are finding creative ways to help everyone stay active.  Special guest Bill Barberg and his son Alec in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area are making a huge impact in their communities.  Here is their story:

“I’ve spent much of the last five years trying to help communities improve the effectiveness of their health and wellness efforts.  One of the most stubborn challenges is getting kids to move out from behind the TV and computer screens and exercise.  It is one thing to tell them to get 60 minutes of exercise each day, but it is far more difficult to make that a reality.

Last summer, I asked my 11-year-old son Alec about how to help make better progress in this important area.  His answer was simple: “You have to make fitness fun.”  So, I followed on by asking him what was the most fun thing he did that was a lot of exercise.  He answered, “Playing ‘ultimate challenge’ in gym class.”  I had never heard of that game, so I asked a few more questions.  What he shared opened my eyes to what I think it the ideal activity for communities to embrace to promote youth fitness.

Ultimate Challenge is a game that gets kids of all ages and abilities running more than any game I’ve seen.  It is like three simultaneous games of “capture the flag” going on at the same time, and regardless of age (from 6 to 60) or physical fitness level, there is always a motivation to run.  Either you’re charging in to capture a football, playground ball or rubber ring, or you’re being chased, trying to catch someone, or trying to rescue a friend.  The rules are simple, and it is FUN!

That night, we decided that the best way to promote Ultimate Challenge as a popular activity across the country would be to create kits that contain everything that groups or organizations need to play the game or host an event where kids could play the game.  The next day we registered and started a “social entrepreneur” business to help get kids fit.

Roll the clock forward several weeks, and my son got his first order to provide 20 kits to the Get Up & Go! Campaign for St. Clair County, Illinois.  A non-profit hospital had purchased 20 kits to give away to youth groups that joined their community fitness initiative.  The kits were an incentive for youth groups (like Boy Scouts, church groups or after-school programs) to embrace fitness, and the kits provided them with everything they needed for kids to get a lot of exercise month after month for years to come.

More recently, a non-profit organization in Minnesota wanted to host a field day for kids from an urban charter school.  They rented 3 Ultimate Challenge kits for a day and had about 15 volunteers come to supervise (and join in the fun) with nearly 100 grade-school age kids.  It took about 15 minutes for the adults to learn the rules and play a quick game so they’d be ready for the kids to arrive at a city park where the 3 courts were set up.  That morning, there were over 80 kids running, laughing and having a blast as they played the game for over an hour.  After lunch, the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders wanted to play again, and this time some of the adult volunteers joined in the fun.  It was another hour of non-stop exercise and fun.  I can’t imagine an easier way to have that many kids get that much exercise, and it was by far the most popular activity of the day.

A couple weeks later, my son brought an Ultimate Challenge Kit to a camp-out with his Boy Scout troop. One father commented that he felt the game would last about 15 minutes and the boys would be ready for something different, but they had to stop the game after over an hour of non-stop action.  Then, the group of 12 to 17 year-old boys chose to play Ultimate Challenge again after dinner—and they played full-tilt until 9:00 PM when the adults insisted that they head back to camp for the evening campfire.  The game was so popular, they made it the main activity of their troop meeting 3 weeks later."

Here is a new page Bill shared on how a community can get 
25,000 hours of exercise for $5,000.  

Note: Not a part of a large organization but you’d like to have a kit for your own church, school, group, or children’s event?  An individual kit was just released!  To learn how Ultimate Challenge can be a high-impact way to get kids moving in your community, please visit

Special thanks to Bill Barberg for sharing this information, 
and to he and his son for continued success on their business venture!