How Jericho’s Randi Chenkin is battling childhood obesity
According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since the 1970s. It’s a disturbing trend that Randi Chenkin has made a point of tackling head on through an exercise program she’s dubbed Randi Robics that’s also spawned The Randirobics Kids Club Radio Show, a children’s program featuring interactive sing-along kids fitness routines and educational space adventures frame by Chenkin singing original songs with a space theme. There is also a video component to it as well. Coming from having worked at fitness clubs for a number of years, this was the latest step for the relentlessly cheery Jericho resident.
“If you go to BBSradio.com/randirobics, you can hear archives of the radio show, which started three years ago. The owner found me on Twitter two years prior and reached out to me. So I called him back and he asked me what I had in mind,” she said. “I told him I had 26 episodes written and he said because I was a writer, performer and producer, he’d teach me how to use the equipment. We spent hours and hours working on that and they trained me. In exchange, because he was so kind to me, I told him that I would promote him and his station on social media.”
Chenkin’s programs air in California through a number of affiliate stations in addition to her having a presence on iTunes under the family, fitness and health categories. Each episode runs between 22 to 25 minutes long and repeats to fill in the alloted hour-long time slot. The premise is that Chenkin is a friendly alienc from a purple galaxy sent to Earth by the Purple Federation of Planets that not only leads listeners/viewers through an exercise program, but includes facts about science, technology and astronomy. In addition, Chenkin has taken her program on the road, performing her exercise workshops at a number of schools, libraries and community centerss. A born entertainer, she started writing scripts and performing after-school programs for friends out side of her house at the tender age of eight.
“I was very inspired by Jack LaLanne, who became like a mentor to me. I used to spend a lot of time in my room just creating. I think I had something like 170 stuffed animals and I’d line them up like my audience,” she recalled. “Jack is who led me into studying fitness and all kinds of dance—ballet, tap and jazz. I was studying in local studios. It carried on through elementary, high school and college. I studied privately and got involved with all the school and theater shows. I have a list that goes up to the ceiling.”
Chenkin’s love of people and wanting to help has also parlayed itself into her going pretty high up in the ranks of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), one of five federal programs promoted under the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen Corps. It’s a passion Chenkin has dating back to her initial involvement a few months before Super Storm Sandy hit back in 2012.
“I went for the training and it was so me. We learned fire safety, fire suppression, search and rescue, how to handle a fire extinguisher, first aid, CPR—it just goes on and on. I got to wear a uniform and its part of FEMA,” she said. “Now just because you have a class of 40 people doesn’t mean everyone is really going to be part of the team. Some people just take it to help their family and learn emergency preparedness to learn what to do if the lights go out and how to shut down your electricity. And that’s great. Out of 40 people, there was a handful of us that wanted to go forward hardcore. So I joined the team.”
The Queens native has risen through the CERT ranks, earning many citations and accolades. And aside from her in-home studio where she records her shows, Chenkin also has a separate CERT room with multiple walkie-talkies set up in the event she’s called to action. With her Randi Robics program recently BOCES-accredited, her fervor is unabated to reach kids of all ages. She’s also worked with groups of special needs children for a number of years as well. With the radio show a constant, the next step is to pull together a live tour, where Chenkin will be front and center leading a Jane Fonda-type workout tailored to kids with the goal being the performing of two or three workshops daily for four or five days a week. It’s a goal she deeply believes in.
“Here’s the bottom line. There are no role models out there for children today. There are not healthy and wholesome models out there. There are great shows that I used to watch as a kid. Some of my favorite kids were Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. There is no Mr. Rogers today,” she said. “What we do have are multimillions of kids under the age of five who are obese and have diabetes. I want to be the one to have a program out there that’s live and about living a healthier lifestyle that’s targeted at children.”
Visit www.randirobics.com to find out more about Randi Chenkin’s exercise programs for kids.