Plum library program out of this world |

Plum library program out of this world

Michael DiVittorio
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Young astronauts Keith Potter, 5, Abby Mankovich, 8, and her sister, Casey, 5, practice their spacecraft push-ups as part of the three-day program to explore how astronauts eat, sleep and stay fit in space. The event, part of the Summer Reading Program, took place July 23-25 at the Plum library with instructor Laura Readel of the Fit Kids Factory.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Addison Readel, 11, leads the young astronauts in the flying flamingo exercise as part of the three-day program to explore how astronauts eat, sleep and stay fit in space. The event, part of the Summer Reading Program, took place July 23-25 at the Plum library with instructor Laura Readel of the Fit Kids Factory.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
How do astronauts keep fit in space? Laura Readel of the Fit Kids Factory presented a three-day program to explore how astronauts eat, sleep and stay fit in space during Plum Library’s Summer Reading Program.

NASA’s next generation of space explorers may have gotten a head start at the Plum Community Library.

Fit Kids Factory delivered a presentation and workout that was out of this world for children in kindergarten through sixth grade as part of a summer reading program.

The three-day visit at the library was called “Afternoon Adventures: Astronauts in Training” and featured interactive education about how astronauts live in space stations.

Instructor Laura Readel and her daughter, Addison, led the group of about 14 young cadets in space-themed exercises like Pluto pushups, Jupiter jacks, space squats and comet caterpillars.

“On Earth, we should be working out for about 60 minutes every day,” Readel said. “Out in space, they have to work out for at least two hours every day … It would be very unsafe if the astronauts went up into space and didn’t work out everyday because their muscles would atrophy, or get really weak and small. Their bones would not stay hard. Whenever they come back down to earth, guess what happens? They wouldn’t be able to walk.”

Participants watched videos led by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who showed some of the specialized equipment used to keep in shape in zero gravity.

One of the machines was an Advanced Resistive Exercise Device.

“This is a little bit different than the squat rack that you might have at a local gym, but it has some of the same functions,” Hopkins said. “It’s very effective for us, and it’s really been very helpful for increasing fitness so we can go back to Earth.”

Astronauts also use a stationary bike called a Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System, in which they strap their feet to keep from floating away. The machine records heart rate, speed and other variables so astronauts and trainers can monitor their progress.

Some of the training videos can be found on YouTube or NASA’s website by searching for “astronaut Mike Hopkins.”

Readel talked about how foods like cheese may go bad in space, and how most astronauts use nonperishable goods when preparing meals.

“I like how they make their own food from packets,” said Abby Mankovich, 8, of Plum.

Keith Potter, 5, and his brother, Coulton Potter, 3, both of Washington Township, said they want to be in space and see other planets when they grow up.

“I want no gravity on me,” said Colton.

The young Plum library space cadets also received fit missions like completing a certain amount of tasks and being active for an hour a day.

Abby and her sister, Casey, 5, both said their favorite part was the exercise. They participate in several library programs, often with their grandmother, Gay Zelinsky of Plum.

Fit Kids Factory stops by the Plum library at least once a year. The July visit was part of the library’s summer reading program, “A Universe of Stories.”

“She doesn’t just do fitness,” Plum library’s children’s program/outreach coordinator Tammy Andrew said of Readel. “She brings everything and makes her program not just exercise. Sometimes she brings a snack. Sometimes she brings in a craft. She varies her program and keeps it interesting.”

More information about Plum library programs is available at

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Plum
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