Patrick Kasper looks more like a California movie star than a youth fitness mentor living in North Dakota. With his tanned skin, caramel-colored hair, and toned build, Patrick appears as though he’s had an accidental layover in Fargo, but Kasper’s mission to fight the youth obesity epidemic while building self-esteem through Positive Motion is actually very purposeful.
Positive Motion is a mind, body and soul fitness program for kids and adults that makes exercising, well, fun. It is Patrick’s ultimate goal to motivate kids across the nation to live in a proactive instead of deconstructive state. Through Positive Motion’s three core elements of passion, program, and purpose, Patrick hopes kids will realize that they must value and nurture themselves to establish lifelong healthy habits.
Patrick’s outlook on life has not always been so positive. A native of Fargo, Patrick described himself as an “overweight, depressed teenager living in his parent’s basement.” He wanted to be active enough to keep up with his four brothers, but when he tried, his weight and poor self-esteem prevented him from breaking this negative cycle. It wasn’t until he watched students rehearsing for the musical “Oklahoma” at Trollwood Performing Arts School, that he felt inspired to start moving. He began exercising and losing weight, but in an unhealthy way, often skipping meals. Patrick credits his mentors, Eddie and Kathy Gasper, for encouraging him to a live a healthier life.
“I was really lucky to have role models in the Fargo-Moorhead area. When I watched them [Eddie and Kathy] dance, I wanted to dance, but I wasn’t in shape to do that,” he said.
Patrick began a rigorous schedule of dance classes, taking everything from ballet to hip-hop. During these classes, something clicked for Patrick as he realized the key to a healthy lifestyle is self-esteem.
Emily Gunkelman, Positive Motion’s marketing promotions developer, is amazed by Patrick’s commitment to improving children’s lives.
“Patrick is a role-model for every human being on the planet. His authenticity is real, and he’s an extremely generous, creative powerhouse,” she said.
Kelly Gerchak, an eighth grade theatre arts and sixth grade language arts teacher at Horizon Middle School in Moorhead, has known Patrick in a variety capacities for several years and has seen firsthand the success of Patrick’s programs.
“I have known Patrick as a young performer with TPAS. Then as a teacher of dance to my own children and finally as a college choreographer. Patrick and I have worked on many shows together in which I was the director and he the choreographer. This year we will be working on Horizon Middle school’s musical “Once Upon A Mattress” and using Positive Motion to teach our students how to be fit, have fun and raise money for the production. It is a joy to watch Patrick use his gifts as an artist when he choreographs a show and to see him turn his passion for health and fitness into a successful Positive Motion program that benefits so many people.”
Gerchak has been tremendously pleased with how students respond to Patrick’s programs.
“Patrick has visited my academic classes several times and the impact on these students is instantaneous. After participating in a Positive Motion lesson with Patrick the kids were energized and ready to sit down and work. One student even said to me, ‘I wish I would have Positive Motion every day before Math, ‘cuz then I might be able to stay awake’,” She said.
In addition to volunteering in local elementary and middle schools, Patrick frequently travels around the country with Positive Motion. He recently returned from the International Key Club Convention in Memphis, TN, and has introduced Positive Motion to the Boys and Girls Club in Minneapolis, and even corporate organizations, such as State Farm and the Salon Professional Academy. Adults, he said, need stimulus during the work day just as much as kids.
Another benefit of Positive Motion is its fluidity. Patrick adjusts the routine to accommodate students in wheel chairs, hesitant middle-school boys, and children recovering from mental illness at Prairie St. Johns in Fargo.
Gerchak says Patrick is able to connect with students in an genuine way.
“Kids are attracted to Patrick like bees to honey! He is so charismatic and speaks their language. He also is a great role model for kids, the adolescent boy in particular. Many boys that age are not sure if exercise and eating healthy is a “cool” thing to do. He shares some of his life experiences that make the kids feel comfortable and can easily relate too,” she said.
“We didn’t even know we were exercising!” is a response Patrick often hears after a group finishes Positive Motion. And that is his goal. If exercise isn’t enjoyable, students are going to abandon it in favor of Facebook or video games. Positive Motion counters the allure of inactivity because it is a holistic approach to exercise.
Before returning home in 2004, Patrick became known internationally as a fitness instructor, presenting Positive Motion in Paris, Bahrain, and the Grand Cayman Islands, among other locations, and now, Fargo. His Monday night Positive Motion class at Gasper’s School of Dance has become a hit, and Patrick is a familiar face in the Fargo-Moorhead school system, presenting “Fitness Fairs” at West Side Elementary and Discovery School in Fargo.
Gunkelman is excited for the future of Positive Motion, but also enjoying the present.
“I get to have some of the fairy dust sprinkled on me. I get to see someone enjoy life. I get to see people smile. I get to watch this message change people’s lives.”
To learn more about Positive Motion and upcoming events visit: http://www.positivemotion.net