Family-owned facility focuses on exercise training, equipment for children 5 and older

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Madelyn Crace, 7, and her older brother, Carson, 10, workout on a rowing and an elliptical machine at BIO Force Youth Fitness on Thursday.Cedric Sloan works out often enough that his 6-year-old son is frequently left cooling his heels in the children’s play area at 24-Hour Fitness.

Trouble is, Cedric Jr. craves a bit more from his visits than random horseplay or tossing around a plastic ball with his pint-sized peers.

“I’m a gym rat,” the elder Sloan admits. “My son says, ‘Hey, dad, I want to work out with you.’ But he’s always in day care.”

At BIO Force Youth Fitness, the father waits while his son works on developing muscle tone and cardiovascular endurance. The facility at 16315 S.W. Barrows Road, suite 203, in the Village on Scholls Ferry center, offers exercise equipment, training and dance classes geared toward children age 5 and TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Cedric Sloan Jr., 6, sprints during a shuttle run drill at BIO Force Youth Fitness. Treadmills, resistance-training machines, free weights — even the trampoline — are designed to safely accommodate children and enhance their physical development.

Opened in August by Aloha resident Tyler Carey, 28, and his father, Tom, of Hillsboro, Bio Force offers what Tyler describes as a totally unique approach to children’s physical fitness.

“BIO Force is the first and only facility in Oregon to offer specially designed youth exercise equipment that won’t damage growth plates, will increase bone density, increase children’s self-esteem, and increase injury prevention,” he says. “Now kids have a place where they can work out, whether they want to increase their sports performance and become a better athlete, or they just want to do resistance training and work out in a fun and exciting way.”

BIO Force offers a variety of programs for children and parents, including personal training, circuit training, group training, long-term athlete development, after-school programs and dance programs. Programs and packages vary widely, but ongoing training is available for $99 a month or $50 to $60 per hour.

Tyler, a 2003 Hillsboro High School graduate, has a degree in exercise science and sports management and worked as a trainer at different commercial gyms for 10 years. He set out with the goal of preparing children for future exercise, athletics and team sports as they head toward adolescence.

“Until now, kids have never been able to go work out at a gym, or get exercise outside of playing a sport,” Tyler says. “The kids over 12 that are allowed to go to a commercial gym don’t have the training necessary to work out correctly and are at increased risk for injury.”

He wants to dispel the notion that “working out” is not ideal for developing children’s muscles and joints.

“It has been thought for a long time that weight training and gym training for kids is bad and damages growth plates,” he notes, “but new research that has been done over the past few years shows the opposite is happening and that weight training has a number of benefits.”

Tom, 60, a longtime general contractor who Tyler coaxed out of short-lived retirement, admits he was skeptical of the venture at first.

“This has been his vision for a long time,” the Hillsboro resident says of his son. “For a long time, I kept saying, ‘You can’t do it.’ It wasn’t a good business move. Then I found out how you could actually train kids. Now we have a niche no one thought of. Instead of a niche of eight (adult gyms), now we’re a niche of one.”

With 5 being the official starting age to train at BIO Force, Tyler says height, weight and initial fitness levels all come into play. Children get a free health and training assessment before signing on.

“We put them on every machine and see if they can move. We assess and gather information from all spectrums,” he says. “There’s the athlete and the kids who are not active enough. We try to bridge that gap.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jacen Arnold, 7, jumps as far as he can on a speed ladder at Southwest Beaverton's new facility at BIO Force Youth Fitness in the Village on Scholls Ferry complex

The equipment at BIO Force is manufactured by Hoist, a California-based company that started a youth line designed by a doctor of exercise science.

“There are three fitness facilities in the country that use those,” Tyler claims, including Florida and Virginia.

Sloan, an engineering technician at Intel Corp., says he’s considering signing up Cedric Jr., a first-grader at Scholls Heights Elementary School, for an after-school program at BIO Force.

“It enhances his ability for sports,” he says. “He can work on his flexibility and balance. He can learn the proper techniques, so when he lifts weights, he does it the correct way.”

Allison Crace, whose son Carson, 10, and daughter Madelyn, 7, dropped by last Thursday to give BIO Force a try, says even though her kids play and frolic outside on a regular basis, she feels it’s important to learn proper fitness training.

“This is pretty amazing equipment for kids,” she says. “It’s nice for kids to be able to strength train without the risk of injury.”

Carson, who’s playing junior-league football while a fifth-grader at Groner Elementary School, has found a new favorite way to focus on strength and coordination.

“Now I can do this instead of gymnastics,” he TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tyler Carey, owner of BIO Force Youth Fitness, watches Jacen Arnold, 7, use a push-press machine at the new facility in Southwest Beaverton, which features exercise equipment designed for youth.

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