March 04, 2011 02:00 PM

Courtesy Active Spud Press

Books and workouts don’t normally go together — unless you’re reading while on the treadmill. But Steve Ettinger‘s new picture book for children, Wallie Exercises, actually encourages kids to break a sweat — in the cutest way possible, of course.

Ettinger, a 25-year-old who coaches youth sports and works full-time as a personal trainer, was struck by the lack of physical activity he saw in elementary and preschools.

“They efficiency and quality of fitness materials available to schools inspired me to create something to fill that void,” he tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies. Having always wanted to write a children’s book, he decided now was the time.

Wallie Exercises (Active Spud Press, $10.85) tells the story of a lazy dog who’s eventually whipped into shape by a trainer — who happens to be an elephant. At the end of the story, there are step-by-step instructions for some easy-to-do exercises that kids can try on their own.

“The whole idea of the book is to encourage creativity and exploration of exercise — not sticking to what somebody tells you to do,” Ettinger shares. “It’s meant to be an example of what kids can try.” He’s taken routine exercises — squats, for example — and called them ‘Silly Shark Squats’ to make it interesting. “Suddenly, it becomes a lot more fun,” he says.

He also hopes parents will engage in physical activity with their children after reading the book. “Studies have shown that modeling has a big effect on activity levels and healthy eating,” Ettinger says.

“When parents are part of getting their kids to be active, they have better results. The idea of the book, on top of teaching kids, is to give parents resources for interacting with their kids. It goes beyond just being a simple story.”

Next up for Ettinger is another children’s book, this one focused on nutrition. “I want to keep up the integrity of these picture books, while incorporating messages of fitness and health into a fun story,” he shares.

You May Like