It’s Saturday morning, and 12-year-old Payton Stafford isn’t sleeping in like many kids his age. Instead of rolling out of bed, watching cartoons and hanging in his pajamas, he’s at Giles Park in Rincon running drills and working out. Condition75 gives Payton the ability to become a better athlete, stay active and have fun.
A Workout Like No Other Condition75 is like conditioning and boot camp rolled into one. Payton’s parents are the founders and launched the initiative in early 2019 to give children an outlet, especially during the summertime. “So often kids want to be on video games and inside. Condition75 gives them the chance to be outside,” says Melissa Stafford, co-founder of Condition75. “They also meet new people, learn new skills and learn respect. We have our regulars who come every Saturday, but once a week we have at least one new kid.” “Everyone is always enthusiastic and always ready to work out,” says Payton. “We do a lot of competitions, and we make each other better. It doesn’t feel like we are working out; it feels like we are having fun.” Payton is much like his parents when it comes to athletics and staying active. His father, Shane Stafford, is the head coach of the Rincon Colts, and his mother is a personal trainer. It’s no surprise that Payton loves running the drills. He’s played football for the last six years, and Condition75 helps him in his position and with his speed and agility. Kids run, do pushups and sit-ups, run obstacle courses and much more. “To me, the best part of it is that the children continue to come out and grow. They grow physically and mentally, and they push themselves past where they thought their minds could go. Seeing a child succeed because they did it is the most rewarding part of all of this,” says Melissa.
A Family Affair Melissa says one of the reasons Condition75 is successful is because of the support of the parents. “Parental support is essential and plays a big role. These parents invest in their children and bring them out every weekend. A lot of times, parents will stay the entire time and encourage their children.” One of those parents is JaNina Murrell. She started bringing her twin sons to Condition75 to improve their skills and become better athletes (one plays football and the other plays soccer). Her enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed, and she was recruited to serve as one of the Condition75 coaches. She is one of seven coaches who has a passion for making a difference in the lives of the children. “I love doing this and watching the kids get better. It’s my mission to help these kids improve.” JaNina and Melissa both agree they see kids come out of their shells after participating. Payton serves as a mentor to younger kids, and JaNina’s son went from being an introvert to one of the biggest motivators on the team.
Every Child is Welcome One of the best things about Condition75 is there is no fee to attend. Any child between the ages of five and 18 who lives in Effingham County can show up on Saturday mornings. Not only was Condition75 created for kids to get outside, but it is a way to get kids involved in sports whose parents or guardians may not have the financial means to enroll them in activities. “We pass gear down once kids outgrow it to those who can’t afford it. We want to make sure that every child has the chance to be involved no matter their financial status,” says JaNina. “While it may be hard, it’s not intimidating. We have every sport represented; we even have dancers and kids that are in the band,” says Melissa. “If you have the dedication and drive, we will give you the tools. It’s not easy, but you will get better, make new friends, and will have something fun to do on Saturdays.”
Combating Childhood Obesity Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Not only does it put children and adolescents at risk for poor health, but it can also affect a child’s self-confidence. The Center for Disease Control reports 13.7 million children and adolescents (two to 19) are obese. At Condition75, kids aren’t allowed to call each other names or bring each other down. Instead, they must always support one another and be a team. “The parents and the coaches push all of us. They don’t push us hard enough where it’s not fun, but they do give us the tools to get better,” adds Payton. One of the ways the coaches succeed in that is by making sure the kids believe in themselves. They are never allowed to use the word can’t. If someone is heard saying it, the entire team pays the price. The consequence could be burpees or pushups. “If children are going to get better and realize their true potential, we must instill a positive, can-do attitude,” says JaNina. One of the ways the coaches do that is by selecting a Beast of the Week. Every week the kid they agree gave it his or her all or did something outstanding gets the honor. “This gives them self-confidence, and it’s amazing to see the kids root each other on,” says JaNina.
The Future Around 30 children come out each Saturday for Condition75, and in 2020, coaches want that number to grow. The more lives they can touch, the better. They would ultimately like to become a non-profit organization and secure funding to offer scholarships. “We see what fitness and being active brings to a child’s life. It sets into play a healthy lifestyle that will benefit them as they get older. When you feel better about yourself, everything else falls into place. We want these kids to live a full life. If it’s a skill thing, we can help. If it’s a confidence thing, we can help. If it’s a financial thing, we can help,” says JaNina.
Sidebar Condition75 starts January 11 Location: Giles Park in Rincon When: Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Who: Ages 5 to 18 To sign up: 912-704-8129 Cost: Free