Boys and Girls Clubs Polster Branch offers classes for kids — and adult fitness classes


By Kathy Day

While the Polster Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito strives to live up to its motto as “The Positive Place for Kids” it’s also becoming a place where adults can focus on fitness.

Although the club had been home to Jazzercise for 11 years, program director Candace Gerlach said the new fitness classes offer something for everyone.

“Jazzercise wanted more space,” she added, noting that the club wanted to offer its own exercise and fitness programs to serve the active Carmel Valley community. “It’s a great opportunity for us to offer a wider variety of activities.”

Started in October, the programs range from Aikido and yoga classes, including a 6 a.m. “Sunrise” class that will start after the holiday break, to cardio hip hop and turbo kickboxing. The Zumba fitness classes – described on the website as a “Latin-inspired, easy-to-follow, calorie-burning, dance fitness-party” – are also popular.

“We have a great introductory special,” Gerlach said. For $45 a month, you can take as many classes as you want from the selection of 25 a week.

The fitness programs run in the mornings and evenings, she noted, since the club is packed with activities for children and teens after school.

In a message on the club’s website, President and CEO Keith Padgett notes that “since 1966 the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito has provided all the traditional programs for which the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is known.”

The site also outlines the mission of “preparing our youth for tomorrow by making a difference today.” To accomplish that objective, the focus is on character and leadership development; education and career development; health and life skills; sports, fitness and recreation, and the performing arts.

Polster, one of the six branches of the San Dieguito organization and one of two in Carmel Valley (Allred at Carmel Del Mar Elementary School is the other), opened 13 years ago. It was named for Leonard and Edith Polster, who donated $1.7 million to the fundraising campaign. Other branches are in Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach, where the Doug and Marianne Pardee Aquatics Center has a full array of activities.

At the Polster branch (and others), the long list of offerings includes specialty classes such as rhythmic gymnastics, USA Freestyle karate, the Inspired Movement Dance and Performing Arts program or Power Tutoring for middle school students. They also run the Big Eight middle school sports programs and basketball for K-6 youth and a recreational basketball league. The club is also home to Carmel Valley Montessori School.

Gerlach noted that 145 youngsters take advantage of the after-school program on a regular basis. Walking and van service from area elementary schools is available to make life easier on working parents, she noted.

And when school’s not in session, the club offers adventure camps in everything from cooking to sports and “Glee Super Stars.” Keep an eye open for registration for spring programs.

Gerlach said she believes the Polster programs stand out because a lot of the staff members have been there for a long time –- some are substitute teachers at local schools.

“That has helped to establish good relations in the community,” she said. “They trust us.”

And because they have such a wide variety of programs, parents can sign their children up for everything from dance classes to tutoring in one stop.

“Every family has different needs,” Gerlach said. “We can accommodate everyone’s interests.”

Learn more about classes and membership at