Cheshire resident Craig Goldstein was working as a physical therapist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center when he saw the need for a physical therapy and fitness center in the region tailored solely to kids.
It was a time when the rise in childhood obesity was making headlines and Goldstein thought he could create a child-friendly environment where he could practice physical therapy and help kids learn about exercise and nutrition.
“We lived in Cheshire and just recognized that there was nothing in the area like this,” said Goldstein. “There was nothing that combined a physical therapy and fitness center specifically and exclusively for children.”
So in January 2001, Goldstein opened Cheshire Fitness Zone and Pediatric Therapy in the Watch Factory Shoppes at 132 Elm Street, running a solo operation as the clinic’s only physical therapist and fitness trainer.
Today, the business includes a staff of 23 physical, occupational and speech therapists - and the business is still growing.
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This summer, Cheshire Fitness Zone will move to a new building under construction on the east side of Route 10, just north of Cheshire High School. The $1.5 million expansion is being funded with the help of the state’s Small Business Express program, which is providing a $100,000 matching grant and $250,000 state loan. The expansion is expected to create 14 jobs.
The new building will be 1,500 square feet larger than the current location and will allow Goldstein to add new programs. For example, a functional kitchen will let occupational therapists hold cooking groups so patients can work on activities of daily living. Speech therapists will begin offering assistive technology evaluations to see if children can benefit from using mobile devices like the iPad to assist with speech, he said.
Goldstein, who holds a master’s in physical therapy from Thomas Jefferson University, said his mission has always been to improve the function and quality of life for children of all abilities.
Pediatric therapy is the main focus, making up about 85 percent of the business, according to Goldstein. But he also offers sports training for individual youth athletes or teams as well as the weight management program and birthday parties.
The facility includes cardio and weight machines as well as free weights designed specifically to fit children. It also has a 32-foot-long rock wall. The fitness program also focuses on nutrition and lifestyle changes.
“We work in conjunction with the families to create a healthier lifestyle for everyone,” Goldstein said.
For therapy services, Goldstein said the center accepts most insurance policies. For more information, call (203) 250-9663.
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