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Bringing yoga to young people — with an app

A yoga instructor takes an animated approach to teaching children the benefits of exercise.

Courtesy of the Adventures of Super Stretch

When Jessica Rosenberg launched her interactive fitness program in 2001, she had no idea that it would resonate with people all over the world. Today, her program is practiced from New York to Africa, and her Super Stretch yoga app is on the iTunes Top 100 list of health and fitness apps for children.

A yoga teacher by trade, Rosenberg created The Adventures of Super Stretch to teach kids about the health and wellness benefits of yoga. “I wanted to help kids find ease and calm in their life in a healthy way,” she says. With obesity, diabetes, stress and anxiety on the rise, “I was seeking a solution that was engaging and that encouraged kids to participate.”

Naturally, Rosenberg turned to cartoons. She created more than 60 animated Super Stretch characters and put them in a book, on flashcards and, eventually, in an app. All three tools use the characters to demonstrate variations of traditional yoga poses and breathing practices.

Rather than using formal marketing campaigns to promote her brand, Rosenberg focuses on educating yoga instructors, teachers and parents on how to use the program’s materials. There are more than 250 trained Super Stretch teachers nationwide, she says; even PE teachers are recommending it for use in their classes.

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Super Stretch programs are taught in several studios, gyms, hospitals and schools throughout the country. Each class is based on a theme that teaches children life lessons and includes stories, games, breathing exercises and a series of yoga and fitness exercises. “Parents like that kids are doing yoga without knowing they are doing it,” says Rosenberg, “and kids like that they can identify with the characters.”

Rosenberg, whose background includes product design, added the Super Stretch app in 2012 with a mission to make wellness more accessible. Today, it has nearly a half-million downloads; it’s available only on Apple devices. She’s working on adding more in-app purchases and incorporating the other 48 characters.

Twin Cities BusinessIn addition to fleshing out the app, Rosenberg is developing curriculum, content and professional development for K-12 schools that will focus on topics such as resiliency, stress reduction and balance. She’s also interested in creating a series of games and wellness tools and adding a portal to the company’s website, which would include instructional videos for educators to play in their classrooms.

The company keeps evolving, says Rosenberg. “I can’t believe how something that was created so long ago still has legs.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is her mission: “It’s my passion to use these characters to change the wellness universe and give every child an opportunity to be healthy and happy,” says Rosenberg. “My goal is to flip the switch from reactive to proactive. I want to be the Angry Birds of health and wellness.”

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.