New enterprise promotes body, mind, future MindFit USA opens in Sparta
Mike Fancher, CEO and founder of MindFIt USA
Photos by Rose Sgarlato
By Rose Sgarlato SPARTA — Fitness and STEM are two buzzwords here to stay. Now what the two terms represent have been combined as a concept, which is behind the opening of MindFit USA in Sparta. MindFit USA is an after school program for children grades 2-12 that aims to empower a child’s future by ‘synergizing' a functional fitness program combined with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). CEO and founder Mike Fancher, a resident of Andover Township, walked away from a successful marketing career in the health care industry to live his dream of creating what he calls “future innovators.” Over four years in the making, ideas were fostered by conversations with friends in the healthcare, education and STEM fields, as well as Fancher’s life experience of raising three sons ages 9, 11 and 13. “Years ago my 11-year-old son had a seizure and was diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia. In simple terms a smaller than normal cerebrum,” Fancher explained. “I thought he might need surgery, but when I asked the doctor what the next steps were he said the brain is a muscle and you need to work it like any other muscle.” The doctor’s words inspired him, and the wheels started turning. No stranger to fitness, Fancher has a B.S. in Exercise Science and Sports Studies and more recently became a Cross Fit Level 1 trainer. “We prime their mind by working in fitness, then they go to the STEM lab,” he said. “This is not a curriculum based project where kids learn to do things. “ MindFIt is physical education not sports focused, and begins with a 25-30 minute exercise routine of pulling, pushing and kids utilizing their own body weight. After the exercise, they go to a decompression room for about 5 to 8 minutes, almost like a cooling down period. “We have a big screen TV in the decompression room where we show mini –nutrition or STEM lessons. I would like to offer mediation one day too,” said Fancher. The last leg of the MindFIt experience is a 40 -minute session incorporating a variety of STEM activities: 3D design and printing, green screen media production, coding, CAD design, drone photography and hydroponics. “Although our kids are truly the first generation of digital natives, I believe there is a creativity crisis, and we are creating kids good at school but not innovators,” said Fancher. “MindFIt’s Fit-gineers are leading the way to become masters of their own universe.” Fancher designed the entire layout of the state of the art 5,000 square foot space, calling it a family-based facility including a homework bar where family members can hang out. He sees his concept appealing to a wide audience “MindFit works for kids who love sports but don’t like technology and vice versa to those who may be creative and entrepreneurial, but who don’t participate in team sports. It’s an opportunity for kids to be healthy and innovative in a way they have never done before and have the experience to be creative." MindFit opened its doors at 10 Park Lake Road, Sparta in December. The first class is free. Call 973-903-4733 to schedule an appointment or visit www.mindfitusa.com.