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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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How to replace movie nights with family fitness dates

Ditching weekly family pizza and movie nights, some parents are gearing calendar events instead toward family fitness dates.

From night skiing to yoga for all ages and open pickleball sessions, families have multiple choices in the Spokane area. YMCA of the Inland Northwest, HUB Sports Center and the Salvation Army Kroc Center are among places that gear activities to all ages.

Regular fitness involving parents and their kids sets an example about the benefits of moving, plus it casts a new light on how children see dad or mom beyond household and work roles, said Phil Champlin, executive director of the HUB Sports Center.

“Activities as a family can be very beneficial, and it puts everyone in different light,” Champlin said. “Dad isn’t just going to work everyday, but he’s also competitive and fun. It’s like seeing your teacher out of school. For parents, instead of watching kids play sports, there’s time doing fitness together to interact with your kids and play. Don’t get too competitive, but laugh and enjoy the time together.”

The HUB has a pickleball drop-in session that sometimes attracts a three-generation family, Champlin said. The sessions mainly bring in seniors, but all ages are welcome, and the one family that comes on occasion has a grandparent, adult children and high school-age grandkids who play together.

A wintry snowshoe trek for families is new this year through the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene, and similar family hikes are open to the public through May. For the snowshoe trip, it’s $20 a person for nonmembers, and the Kroc supplies both the equipment and transportation.

“It’s a cool thing for families to do under our outdoor wellness program,” said Stacy Barney, the Kroc’s director of aquatics, wellness and programming. “The family hikes go through May. We bus them out to the location.”

“I think people are intimidated a little bit by the idea of learning how to cross-country ski or snowshoe, and the expense, where you go and how you do it. These group outings expose people to these outdoor winter activities for a reasonable price and with the supplies included.”

For other Kroc center family-oriented activities, members and nonmembers buying a day pass have options of recreation swimming, gymnasium play or use of a climbing wall. A day pass costs $8 for youth, $12 for adults.

“We definitely have seen the trend of more and more families coming together here, such as getting on the climbing wall together. We work with local elementary schools and have family nights. We’ll have two schools come to a free night at the Kroc center for kids, parents and siblings. Those have been hugely successful.”

The center’s gym space can be used to play basketball, and sometimes for volleyball or pickleball. “We also have a game room, where there’s pool and a ping-pong table. We do see lots of parents and their kids in there having ping-pong tournaments.”

Here are more ideas to book action in for 2018 around the Inland Northwest:

Night skiing

It’s close, relatively cheap and a perennial family-favorite activity: Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park’s $20 night skiing sessions that run 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

“We usually start night skiing mid-December and go to mid-March,” said spokeswoman Brenda McQuarrie. “It’s just $20; we set that for anybody, including youth. It’s one size fits all.”

Another bonus that runs on certain nights starting in February can feed the whole bunch as well.

Nicknamed “spag-n-ski,” the deal next month runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights at $40 for two ski tickets and two spaghetti dinners in the ski park’s restaurant. The special usually runs through early March.

YMCA of the Inland Northwest

Katrina Nebel, health and wellness director of the Spokane Valley YMCA, sees use of the swimming pools as a top draw among families with kids of all ages.

“The other thing is our basketball courts, and those are popular with families,” Nebel said. “We also have volleyball at set times.”

“At our Valley location, we have a climbing wall. There are set hours, and we have someone who will work with families. The kids love it, and parents discover it’s lots of fun too.”

In addition to swimming and gym play for family activities, the regional YMCA offers a couple of classes designed for young fitness fans. One is FIT 4 KIDS for ages 5-12 at the Valley and North Spokane locations, with interval training that teaches kids how to stay active. For children younger than 7, parents must stay in the class with their kids.

The second choice is Kids Yoga, available at Central and South Hill YMCA facilities. Kids Yoga is recommended for ages 5-10, but also grown-ups.

Additionally, children ages 7-11 can participate in YMCA group exercise classes with an adult. Kids must be 13 or older for a TRX class that involves resistance straps.

YMCA has a Youth Wellness Center Training program covering information about working out in its facilities. The training is required for youth ages 10-15 before they are allowed on the wellness floor.

Families can check with facilities regarding the hour-long training sessions for cardio or strength training that go over proper use of equipment. Adults must be present if the youth is younger than 12, but parents are encouraged to attend the training for all ages of children.

Free-weight training is a separate option for ages 12 to 15. Working with a wellness coach, a youth will learn how to use free weights safely and properly. Participants must have completed cardio and strength training to register.

The YMCA also holds a few kid-specific fitness events each year, such as Healthy Kids Day and Xtreme Kids Fun Run. For more activity information, go to

Ice Skating

Riverfront Park’s ice ribbon consists of a 16-foot-wide and 650-foot-long pathway with a 3,500 square foot attached pond. The stretch offers slight inclines and declines. The ice ribbon shares a ticketing facility with the SkyRide that also includes a cafe.

Admission is hourly; $4.50 for children 2-12; $6.50 for adults; $5.50 for seniors, military and college students; plus $4.50 for skate rental. Unlimited admission passes are $25 for children and $30 for adults. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. Info:

HUB Sports Center

If you’re planning ahead, the HUB Sports Center offers three big family-oriented annual events. They are Dads & Dudes Night on May 12, Mother & Son Gym Jam Night on Sept. 8 and the HUB Family Fun event on Sept. 28. For details, check online at or call (509) 927-0602.

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