Danny created FunFit Kids along with his wife, Robyn, and with the assistance of kinesiology, nutrition and early child development professionals. Before founding FunFit Danny led experiential learning and after school programs for many NYC-based community centers and schools.
Danny was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and raised in Canada but has been living and working in New York City since 2010. Danny and his wife, Robyn, who is also his business partner have a son who recently turned four months.Growing up, Danny played soccer and hockey at a high level and basketball, skied and swam for fun. He received his Bachelors degree from York U in Toronto and his Masters in ‘Informal Education’ from the University of Tel Aviv. Before FunFit Kids, Danny was a youth program director for two different Upper West Side synagogues.
What inspired you to form FunFit?
I originally thought up the idea for FunFit Kids in 2014 and began by running weekend classes on the Upper West Side. Parents were looking for an alternative way to teach language (Hebrew) to children. At the same time, I also realized I had a passion for teaching kids the fundamentals of movement and having them explore different sports. At first, the overlying challenge was to get the word out about the program and to gain the confidence of parents that FunFit Kids is a quality program. Slowly, and with a lot of persistence, FunFit became a popular sports enrichment program for preschools in and around Upper Manhattan. In September, we’ll be opening our first ever, 2700 square foot gym on the Upper West Side. In addition to our core multi-sport programs, we run a diverse lineup of classes, including 2Lingo (language through sports), sporty explorers (alternative preschool), open sports (special needs) and much more.
What in your background prepared you to launch a youth sports company?
I have an extensive background in sports. Growing up, I played soccer at a high level and hockey internationally. I have my parents to thank for this. As a child, I was extremely active and had difficulty focusing. Many doctors wanted to prescribe me medications, but instead my parents enrolled me in a variety of sport programs. Sports taught me the ability to focus, built my confidence and allowed me to succeed, not just on the field or in the rink but also in the classroom. Since then, I’ve always had a passion for athletics and want to share the positive experience with kids today. Through my education in Informal Education and time directing large youth groups, plus the years at FunFit, I’ve gained the knowhow and experience to work experientially with kids and really engage them in the programming.
What do you look for when you hire a coach to work with kids?
Besides the obvious background check we at FunFit Kids look for coaches that have a background in athletics. With that said, most importantly we look for coaches who are patient, compassionate and generally enjoy coaching youth.
You offer a class that combines introductory language skills with sports. What is the philosophy behind this class?
At FunFit Kids, we believe that teaching languages through experiential education is an extremely powerful method. By introducing children to a language at an early age and having them associate it with sports, active play and positive experiences, it is proven that they will have better retention and positive associations with that language. It is one of our most popular classes and we hope to expand to new languages soon.
What other classes does FunFit offer?
We offer an array of classes outside of our regular multi-sports program. They include: a two-hour preschool alternative program called ‘Sporty Explorers’ where children play sports for one hour and then join structured classroom time; ‘Baby Massage’ and ‘Yoga’ for babies starting at four months and older; and our 2Lingo Language through Sports program (currently in Hebrew). Additionally, we are proud to announce that we have partnered with Play4Autism and together have created an adapted multi-sports special needs program, called Open Sports.
What makes FunFit unique?
The most fundamental element that makes us unique is our approach to sports instruction which we call the 3R’s – Refine, Rehearse and Repeat. In addition, other factors that make us unique are our quality coaching, child to coach ratio, large indoor facility, quality equipment, private party room and variety of programming.
What are the particular challenges of doing what you do in NYC?
New York City is a great city for many things but it is a particularly challenging place for a kids sports businesses. Space is very limited, extremely expensive and there are extensive zoning laws. When Robyn and I decided we wanted to find a physical space on the Upper West Side to run FunFit Kids we never expected our search would take nine months. I think we saw every basement, roof and crawl space on the UWS. We had two deals fall through due to zoning, but luckily landed the right space that is perfect for our and FunFit Kids needs.
You must have lots of great stories from your years working with kids. Tell us about one that inspired you.
Last year I had a girl enrolled in my program who from the outset told me she never wants to play sports. I wasn’t sure why but I promised her that by the end of the school year not only will she find a sport she likes, she will also excel at it. I slowly introduced her to sports, teaching her to do small activities that built to the greater goal. Through spending time with her, I was able to discover that her fear of sports was actually a fear of falling. Once I knew that, I focused on gymnastics, and showed her how to properly fall, and react. As she overcame the fear, and grew her confidence, she was willing to try new sports. Through trial and error, we discovered that her favorite sport is tennis and she plans to join our tennis program starting this Fall!
What was the best advice you got from a coach?
The best advice I got from a coach is that sometimes you need to play the ball backwards in order to move the play forward. This advice is applicable in most sports, but also taught me that sometimes you need to take a step back in order to see the bigger picture and move forward (something that helped a lot in starting FunFit Kids!)
What is your most treasured sports possession?
I represented Israel playing Ice Hockey in a group B and C IIHF tournament for many years (we were actually really good), I kept the jersey from my first tournament and it means a lot to me.
Favorite sports book?
Michael Jordan – The life
Favorite sports movie?
Lady Bugs with Rodney Dangerfield
Best sports memory?
The best sports memory for me was when I scored my first goal in soccer as young boy in the 89th minute. The whole team jumped on my back and we celebrated like champions.See more New York Sports Connection articles
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