Taking the Plunge: Getting Little Ones to Love Water

The throughline of water safety at any age is having a positive relationship with water. Depending on age and ability, there are different tactics you can use to get a new or reluctant swimmer in the water.

It is common for infants and toddlers to love water. For littles, you can create a positive association with water using some of these methods.

  • Start with bath time! By using toys or little buckets, you can gently introduce babies to the fun of playing in water.
  • With toddlers, the bath can be a great place to try on goggles for the first time in preparation for a more structured swim program at the J or another swim school.
  • Gradually introduce your little one to water and model enjoyment. We all know how fun a kiddy pool or splash pad can be for little ones. When you do decide to take your infant or toddler to the pool, hold them close so they know they are safe. Make sure you express how fun swimming is, by smiling and showing enthusiasm.
  • Remember – little ones should wear a swim diaper in pools until they are fully potty trained.

A crucial part of a child’s swimming success is establishing a routine. This could be a combination of things including one private lesson a week combined with swimming with mom or dad at the pool once a week. You could say something like, “You’ll be in classes with Miss Molly on Sunday mornings, but you and I will play in the pool on Wednesday mornings!” Kids have lower anxiety when something is routine or regular.

Another tip for new swimmers to swim class is to let them know what to expect in class. For a child 3-4 years old, this could be their first foray into instruction from an adult other than a parent or caregiver. You could prepare your child for class by talking about the upcoming class in the week leading up, letting the child know the instructor’s name, and explaining how class might go.

This could sound something like, “You will be swimming with other kids in your class with Miss Molly on Sundays. You will each get to take turns swimming with Miss Molly. When it isn’t your turn, you can sit on the stairs with the other kids so Miss Molly will know you are safe. After you spend time learning new things, your class will end by playing with pool toys! Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

If you have or know a child that is afraid of being in the water, validate and acknowledge their fears. Introduce them to water slowly – using stairs or ramps in a large pool or dipping their feet in shallow water. It is extremely important to respect the pace of the swimmer. Any negative experience could set them back in terms of overcoming their fears. Additionally, celebrate their small successes, like sitting down in shallow water, blowing bubbles with their mouth, or putting their face in the water.

While this blog focused on getting little ones into the pool, please know that the J can help with any stage of a person’s swimming journey. Everyone should be able to experience the joy and security of knowing how to swim, and it is never too late to learn. Contact Aquatics@theJ.org for more tips or to get information about swim programs currently offered.

New Year, New You 2024: A Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle

Happy New Year, J Family! The start of a New Year is always a great opportunity to reflect and set goals for the year ahead. Many of us want to create healthier habits, but often a solid plan is missing to affect change. That is why the J-Fit Health Club is here to help!

We put together a 6-week program, focused on 6 different elements of living a healthy and happy life! Below, you’ll find all the details you need to get started on your best year yet. Perform each week’s challenge and consecutively add each additional weekly challenge to your routine.

Week 1: Movement

Movement is incredibly important as it correlates to a high quality of life. So, if we don’t move, we stagnate. The more we move, the more our bodies will want to keep moving. Our goal is for you to enjoy the amazing benefits movement has for your body, mind, mood, and life; and most importantly, to do it in a way you enjoy!

Challenge: Choose one way you enjoy moving.
Days per Week: 3
Duration: 20+ minutes (over the course of a day)

Week 2: Hydration

Hydration seems easy to do, and yet so easy to forget to do. Hydration is important because it helps our internal organs function properly, it helps our skin look great, and aids indigestion. Our body is composed mostly of water, so if you think about anything from our joints to our blood, water is the key component to make sure everything is working properly.

Challenge: Drink 64 oz+ (8+ cups) of water
Days per Week: 7

Week 3: Balanced Routine

Having balance in your daily routine is more beneficial than one may think. When we spend too much time doing one thing, other areas lack and will catch up with us over time. So, mix it up and keep it simple! It’s not always how hard you push yourself, but the consistency that matters.

Challenge: Choose 1 workout style to add to your routine (Cardiovascular, Strength, Flexibility, etc.).
Days per Week: 2
Duration: 30+ minutes (over the course of a day)


Week 4: Mental Health

Mental health is just as important, if not more important, than your physical health. Without good mental health, it’s hard to enjoy our physical health. There are many ways to prioritize mental health, such as therapy, meditation, journaling, breathe work, getting a few minutes of sunshine or fresh air, and other strategies to help you feel rejuvenated. Try them all and find your favorites! It is important to have a few in your tool kit.

Challenge: Find a mental health strategy(s)
Days per Week: 7
Duration: 5+ minutes (over the course of a day)

Week 5: Healthy Eating

Eating healthy is an incredible way to fuel your body for exercise… and life. When you give your body the nutrients it needs, you have better mental focus, clarity, and productivity, and it also gives you the energy to accomplish a variety of tasks throughout the day. “Eating healthy” does not just mean adding more vegetables to your diet, but having a balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins (including fruits and vegetables).

Challenge: Eat vegetables with each main meal.
Servings: 1
Days per Week: 7


Week 6: Goal Setting

Setting goals is something we hear and talk about often, but may not be something we successfully execute quite as much. Well, after 5 weeks of focusing on your health, I hope you are ready to make some permanent changes. When you have a goal, you have direction.

Your J-Fit team wants to support you in your journey for 2024 and beyond! Post your 2024 goals in the comments of this blog or tag us on social media, so we can support each other.


Challenge: Write down at least 1 goal for 2024, tell a friend about it, and start working towards it.

The J-Fit team is here to support you in your health and fitness journey! To get in contact with one of our team members, please stop by the fitness center or contact us by phone 703.537.3008 and email fitness@theJ.org


In Health and Fitness,
The J-Fit Team

Pickleball at the Pozez JCC: Serving up Fun, Fitness, and Safety

Pickleball has been making waves across the world as one of the fastest-growing sports. It’s easy to see why – it’s a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. The JCC is your one-stop destination for all things pickleball. We offer a range of opportunities for players to enjoy the sport:


  1. Open Play: Come and enjoy casual games of Pickleball with your fellow members. It’s a great way to meet new people, improve your skills, and have fun.

  2. Teen Open Play: All teens welcome! For anyone 13-19 years old and of any skill level. All equipment is provided by the JCC (nets, paddles, and balls). The Pickleball session will be supervised by a coach to provide assistance and feedback to all participants, to help develop their skills and overall experience.

  3. Clinics: Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an advanced player aiming to refine your technique, our clinics cater to all skill levels. Our experienced instructors provide personalized guidance to help you reach your goals.

  4. Tournaments: For those seeking a competitive edge, we organize Pickleball tournaments that allow you to test your skills against some of the best players in the area.

As with any sport, safety and fitness are paramount. Pickleball is a physically demanding sport, and like any other sport, it comes with a risk of injury.

In a Crazy World…Gratitude & Self-Care are Key

I googled the phrase ‘world gone crazy’ to find a song I was remembering with those lyrics. As it turns out there are numerous songs with that title or something very similar! Some are recent and the videos on YouTube show photos depicting images associated with the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and other times where hate, destruction, and war were prevalent. I suppose the world has always had times that were crazy, but we still must keep on living.

This blog is dedicated to finding opportunities for gratitude and thankfulness despite the craziness and to performing acts of self-care despite what’s in the news. November is usually the month associated with gratitude and thankfulness since “Thanksgiving” always occurs on the 4th Thursday. This holiday is a time when we gather with family and friends to share our bounty of food and express gratitude for each other and what we have in this world. People travel near and far to do this. In fact, Thanksgiving is one of the most traveled holidays in the United States, causing traffic delays on the roads, tracks and in the skies – which can be quite stressful.

Let’s see what we can do to make mid-November and Thanksgiving a little less stressful and healthier all around. First, be grateful for the variety of foods we eat on this American holiday that are native to our country and continent. Second, limit the amount of time you take in ‘the news’ and do things that provide a little bit of an escape from our harsh reality. And third, engage in activities that help others and repair the world – in keeping with the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam.

Eat Native Foods:

Did you know that potatoes (considered a starchy vegetable) were cultivated by the Incas in South America 1,800 years ago? Potatoes with colored skins (purple, gold and red) as well as sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white potatoes. They also add pleasing color to your meal. Corn (botanically a fruit but classified as a starchy vegetable or grain) provides many vitamins and elements that the body needs in moderation. Pumpkins are seasonal to autumn and pumpkin pie is often a dish we see for Thanksgiving dessert. But don’t forget about the other kinds of squash (winter, butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc.) that bring color and nutrients to a dish or can be made into a hearty winter soup.

Other healthy native American foods that can enhance your Thanksgiving table include cacao bean, tomatoes, and chili peppers. Cacao is the basis for chocolate which was used by the Mayans in Central America to make a bitter “drink of the Gods;” it contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Beans (black, white, red, kidney) and legumes (like as lentils and green beans) are a good sour of protein and very versatile to use in dishes. Green beans are native to South and Central America and are often found in the popular creamy casserole on Thanksgiving but they can be cooked in a heathier way (roasting, steaming, sautéing). Tomatoes, also native to South America have many vitamins, minerals and are known for the phytochemical lycopene and are versatile all year round. Finally, chili peppers (considered berries) are native to South America and cultivated in Mexico, bring taste and heat to any dish they are cooked in. The chemical they are known to provide through ingesting or topically is capsicum.

Limit news watching time and do leisure activities:

It is easy to get caught up in watching the news. It is available 24/7, after all. But it is not ideal. Whether it is first thing in the morning or in the evening after work, limit how much time you read the newspaper/news feeds, watch television, or listen to the radio/podcasts. Take a break by doing something that takes your mind off of current events – engage in a favority hobby, exercise, cook, knit, read a book, socialize with friends, take a long shower/bath, walk in nature or participate in a Pozez JCC adult program,. To find a list of upcoming programs click here: Events | Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (thej.org)

Help Repair the World (perform Tikkun Olam):

In this time of gratitude and thankfulness, it is our moral obligation to help others in need. The Women’s Social Impact Group (WSIG) was created with this vision in mind. Currently, WSIG is working to combat homelessness and hunger and improve the environment with its mission of recycle, repurpose, reuse. One of our most important commitments is to the annual FACETS Hypothermia Prevention Program where we assist Bethlehem Lutheran Church each winter in hosting guests for a week; December 24-31 is our week this year. You can support this effort in a few ways:

  1. Buy raffle tickets for the Baskets of Love FUNdraiser in the J’s Lobby (through November 15)
  2. Volunteer for JCC Days during Hypothermia Prevention Week – click on the signupgenius link for opportunities to provide meals, food/snack items, gift cards, supplies and assistance: Pozez JCC: Hypothermia Prevention Week: JCC Days (signupgenius.com)
  3. Become a member of WSIG and/or the Community Impact & Engagement Department’s new Volunteer Center.

I hope you can take time out to be good to yourself this month…eat healthy (and include native foods this Thanksgiving), pursue pleasurable activities to destress, feel gratitude and thankfulness for what you do have, and give back to the community. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Pickleball at the Pozez JCC : Serving up Fun, Fitness, and Safety

Pickleball has been making waves across the world as one of the fastest-growing sports. It’s easy to see why – it’s a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. The JCC is your one-stop destination for all things pickleball. We offer a range of opportunities for players to enjoy the sport:

  1. Open Play: Come and enjoy casual games of Pickleball with your fellow members. It’s a great way to meet new people, improve your skills, and have fun.
  2. Teen Open Play: All teens welcome! For anyone 13-19 years old and of any skill level. All equipment is provided by the JCC (nets, paddles, and balls). The Pickleball session will be supervised by a coach to provide assistance and feedback to all participants, to help develop their skills and overall experience.
  3. Teen Open Play: All teens welcome! For anyone 13-19 years old and of any skill level. All equipment is provided by the JCC (nets, paddles, and balls). The Pickleball session will be supervised by a coach to provide assistance and feedback to all participants, to help develop their skills and overall experience.
  4. Clinics: Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an advanced player aiming to refine your technique, our clinics cater to all skill levels. Our experienced instructors provide personalized guidance to help you reach your goals.
  5. Tournaments: For those seeking a competitive edge, we organize Pickleball tournaments that allow you to test your skills against some of the best players in the area.

As with any sport, safety and fitness are paramount.  Pickleball is a physically demanding sport, and like any other sport, it comes with a risk of injury.  Our Private and Semi-Private training services include injury prevention and sports performance.  These programs are designed to keep you in peak condition and minimize the chances of getting hurt.

In summary, Pickleball is more than just a game; it’s a community, a source of fun and fitness, and a way to challenge yourself both mentally and physically. At the JCC, we are committed to providing you with the best Pickleball experience possible, including opportunities for open play, clinics, and tournaments. Additionally, our focus on injury prevention and sports conditioning ensures that you can enjoy the game you love while staying safe and performing at your best. So, come join us at the JCC and experience the thrill of Pickleball in a supportive and vibrant community.

Cultivating Lifestyle Changes and Forming New Habits

Habit formation and behavior change are widely discussed, especially because we live in a culture that, for better or worse, is fixated on self-improvement.

I am not a psychologist or motivational speaker. However, I do feel qualified enough to give you the “Too Long; Didn’t Read” version of some works on habit formation from experts in the field. If there is a mountainous goal that has been eluding you, read on!

Laws of Habit Changes from Atomic Habits by James Clear:

Make it obvious: pay attention to your environment and make cues for the desired habit. 

For example, if your goal is to read x number of books for the year, it could be a good idea to place a book on the coffee table where the remote control usually rests.

Make it attractive: the more enjoyable or attractive the habit is, the more likely you are to do it. Try “temptation bundling,” pairing a highly probable and desirable habit with the new habit. 

For example, watching your favorite show while walking on the treadmill if you want to make a habit of walking for thirty minutes a day. This is a way to make our penchant for instant gratification work for us.

Make it easy: remove friction and obstacles that prevent you from performing the habit. Better yet, plan for challenges ahead of time.

For example, if my goal is to save money, I will pack a lunch to take to work. If I know I have a hard time getting out of the door in the morning, I will pack my lunch the night before.

Make it satisfying: Positive reinforcement can help cement your new habits. Track progress and reward yourself for small steps!

Reflect on these laws. Think of a goal you have or a habit you’d like to adopt. Now, read the laws again and think of ways you can make your specific habit obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.

Other techniques for habit building:

Habit stacking: Identify a habit you already do consistently. Choose a new habit you want to incorporate into your routine. Create a link between the existing habit and the new habit by doing them together.

For example, if you would like to start learning about current events, you could decide to listen to the BCC Global News Podcast every morning during your daily commute.

Habit stacking and temptation bundling are similar, but the difference is that temptation bundling capitalizes on a thing we really want to do and habit stacking uses any existing habit to support a new habit.

“Don’t break the chain”: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld shared that he cultivated a habit of writing comedy every day by marking the calendar with a big, red X when he did, regardless of how much he wrote. By seeing a “streak”, you’re more likely to continue the behavior.

Identity-Based habits: I’m paraphrasing here, but there is a saying that goes something like “everything you do is a vote for the person you are”. Identity based habits are the way to seal the deal and make your new habits stick. Most goals are about outcomes, but identity-based goals are about changing your belief systems. James Clear writes that there are two steps for sustained success: Decide the type of person you want to be and prove it to yourself with small wins.

Don’t underestimate social power. By being open with others about your goals or plan to cultivate a new habit, you are psychologically more likely to be consistent. By having an accountability buddy (or even friendly competition), you increase your chances of making a change.

For example, the app Goodreads shares your annual reading goal with your friends. You can also share your progress for books you’re currently reading, like other readers’ progress updates, and share book reviews with friends!

More on Temptation Bundling and Habit Stacking: https://jamesclear.com/temptation-bundling 

More on Identity-Based Habits: https://jamesclear.com/identity-based-habits 

Unlocking Us with Brene Brown featuring James Clear:  https://open.spotify.com/episode/4FtUEweiSDXfHZCAPQhWEA?si=rLiestA0Sbyh8455VBmcEA