‘Mr. Gym’ gets kids moving at Enfield Public Library

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Tue., Jan. 7, 2014
‘Mr. Gym’ Chris Keithan has the attention of everyone in the room. Photos by Lisa Stone.
‘Mr. Gym’ Chris Keithan has the attention of everyone in the room. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Chris Keithan – a.k.a. Mr. Gym – brought children to their feet at the Enfield Public Library during his performance on Dec. 30. Keithan has one goal in mind when he performs: he wants the kids to get their share of healthy activity for the day during the 45 minutes in which he performs.

With a master’s degree in physical education and certification in health education, along with a natural talent for the drums and guitar, Keithan found a way to combined all of his talents. He is a physical education teacher at the Birch Grove Primary School in Tolland, where he teaches pre-kindergarten through second grade. Teachers at several area schools use his CDs for activity breaks for their students. He also performs for venues such as theaters, day cares, libraries, recreation centers and parks. He is a local icon among his peers. “I have gotten several emails thanking me for the CD,” said Keithan. “I just got one email from a local day care that said they enjoyed moving to the CD on a recent cold and wet day. This gives the kids something to move to and keeps it controlled. The kids love this.”

The children gathered around Mr. Gym and waited anxiously for his instructions. Keithan began playing the guitar at a very fast pace to get the kids revved up. Soon, he was telling them to flap their arms, touch their toes, stop and go, speed up and slow down. Giggles filled the room as the kids tried to keep up with the directions. Cheryl Fitzgerald brought her 2-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, and 5-year-old son, Patrick, for the day of fun. “The kids are very excited to be here,” said Fitzgerald. “I really wanted to get Patrick moving.”

Mike Levesque took his two sons, Nathan and Jack, to the show. All three were smiling throughout the performance. Though the boys chose to stay on Dad’s lap, they were following Keithan’s every move. “This is a great time,” said Levesque, as he smiled and bounced his two young sons on his knees.

“If the kids leave my performances with red faces and sweating, I know that I have done my job,” said Keithan. By the time he was in eighth grade, Keithan knew what he wanted to do with his life. He enjoyed physical activities and he also had a natural talent with singing and playing instruments like the bass guitar, guitar and drums. “When I was a student teacher, I brought my instruments to class and had the students get up and start moving around to get energized to be able to think and learn better. One teacher asked me what I was doing. When I explained, he let me continue. Everything just seemed to fall into place from there,” he said. Sometimes, Keithan has back-up for his performances. The other band members are teachers as well. According to Mr. Gym, the band has played in small venues as well as very large venues such as parks like Six Flags, and they all really enjoy getting the kids up and moving. “I love my job,” he said.

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