Dads in the Limelight – Greg Lichtenstein (Creator of The Activators)

Our 38th Dad in the Limelight is Greg Lichtenstein (Creator of The Activators). I want to thank Greg for being a part of this series. It has been great getting to know him and now sharing him with all of you!

1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers’ knowledge)

I am a Texas-born screenwriter and have called Los Angeles home since graduating from Tulane University in 1996. My experience in the entertainment industry has included studio and independent films, sitcoms, and animation. During the 2007 writers’ strike, the Internet was a key issue facing Hollywood, so I made use of my time by earning a master’s degree from USC – focusing on online communities and digital media.
I’m excited to now produce The Activators – a new multi-platform children’s entertainment group whose mission is to engage preschoolers in physical activity by making fitness fun.
I created the show when I noticed my children becoming less active when they were exposed to so many forms of entertainment media. The reality is that preschoolers today are surrounded by TV, computers, video games, and mobile devices – at home, school, shopping malls, and in cars – and it’s not possible or practical to try to keep them from being exposed to all these screens. I felt that the best strategy to help them develop a healthy lifestyle was through interactive content that would instill in them a love of exercise.
I was fortunate to partner with My Gym Children’s Fitness Center, a leader in the children’s fitness industry with more than 200 gyms in 25 countries. I wanted every video to mirror a child’s exercise class, so it was essential to cast the show with actual fitness instructors – not actors – and we found an incredibly talented group of teachers who all worked at various My Gym locations in southern California.
After about a year of development, focus groups, and testing, we launched the website in November. As of April 2010, more than 14,000 parents and children from 89 countries have watched our online videos, and we continue to grow each day. We recently opened a children’s obstacle course at the Westfield Topanga mall in Canoga Park, CA, and our mobile video campaign will begin next week. There are plans in the works for a national tour and TV series.
With one out of every three children in the U.S. currently considered overweight, our goal is to turn millions of kids into Activators. It’s extremely gratifying to know that this show not only entertains children, but it also has the potential to help them lead healthier lives.
2) Tell me about your family

I am married with two young children, both of whom inspired me to create The Activators. In fact, so much of the show is based on their ideas, I may have to share writing credit with them.

3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

The greatest challenge has been learning how to balance work and family. For a couple of years, I worked out of my home office, but once my children were old enough to understand that daddy was always a few steps away, I had to get office space. As much as I tried to remain focused on my work, it just wasn’t possible. I would occasionally find myself playing tag with them in the backyard then eventually realize that I missed an entire workday.

4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

If you’re a workaholic with young children and frequently struggle to balance career and family, just picture your kids as rebellious teenagers with bad attitudes who aren’t interested in spending time with you. That will help you rearrange your priorities and make you appreciate every second with them.

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

Hold on to your hobbies. And if you can’t remember what your hobbies were before fatherhood, then come up with something fast before it’s too late. When you give yourself the gift of personal time, you’ll be a better father since your child will learn the importance of taking care of yourself and not just those around you. You’ll also be a much happier person. Despite my tendinitis, torn rotator cuff, and frequent visits to the chiropractor, playing softball is one of the highlights of my week.

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

When you’re with your kids, don’t go anywhere without a mini camcorder. I’ve found that the most memorable and meaningful moments to capture on camera are the ones that you’d never expect.

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

Other than watching my daughter hit a backhand winner on the tennis court or my son throwing a perfect spiral on the football field, some of my most memorable parenting moments have been developing The Activators with them. Over the past year, my children have helped me come up with new exercises for the videos, they’ve appeared in the videos alongside the cast, and they’ve gotten such a thrill from seeing their ideas come to life on the screen. They feel empowered, more confident in themselves, and they are now more physically active than ever. They also told me that The Activators is their favorite show. That makes me one proud dad. 

If you have any questions for Greg, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!


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