Larissa Maloney begins every morning from her garage in Central Florida, fueled by enthusiasm and motivation. Maloney leads accessible workouts to a class of virtual students. However, not all of the viewers are her students from Father Lopez Catholic High School, where she teaches as the head volleyball coach and P.E. teacher. Maloney has grown her audience and is reaching children and families from all around the world. What started as a motivational morning workout for her high school students has blossomed into a worldwide community.
As the founder of Active Kids 2.0, Maloney created and leads a community run by enthusiastic, elite individuals. Active Kids 2.0 is now a fast growing on-demand service, providing an array of active classes for kids and their families. Active Kids 2.0 is not solely about putting aside part of your day for a daily workout -- it's about getting off the couch; putting down the video game controller; exercising your heart, mind, and body; and getting your muscles moving. The on-demand subscription service has become vital to providing families and moms with active classes for their children in the safety of their own homes.
Maloney has always been an active individual. Growing up, she played volleyball and basketball and ran track. When she was 6 years old, she believed she would become the first female NBA player. After high school, she accepted a scholarship to play volleyball at Lynn University, and post college, Maloney continued her career playing professional beach volleyball and traveling worldwide. Now, as a volleyball coach and P.E. teacher, she had to find a solution to help her students stay active after the transition to virtual learning.
Before Active Kids 2.0, Maloney began live-streaming self-taught classes in the corner of her garage gym to around 70 of her students. The pandemic and virtual school posed a difficult challenge because, as an athlete, the competitive spirit follows you through whatever you do, and suddenly, this spirit was being ripped away from her students. However, Maloney refused to let being stuck at home stop her from getting her students moving and active.
"Right now is a crazy time, and some of the students are feeling lonely and depressed," she says. "I want to do everything in my power to help them feel good, at least for part of their day."
The first Monday of virtual school, she welcomed 10 of her students on the live stream from her home gym, not expecting much more of a turnout from her total of 70 students. As she warmed up and moved through the workout, she noticed the numbers rising: from 10 to 20 to 50, all the way to 7,000 by the end of the hour. "It was my mission to get everybody moving," says Maloney. "Especially during that time in the pandemic, it was important to remain active in order to keep spirits up and stay healthy."
She continued the free live streams on YouTube for the rest of the school year, working out with a couple thousand people from all over the world every morning. Messages flew in from countless individuals saying that her workouts had become a routine for them and their families. Maloney's mission was to build a community from her passion for exercise and mentoring children, and that's exactly what she did.
Maloney has welcomed eight passionate female athletes to her team since the site opened. Each specializes in her own talent and mentors the children and their families. From yoga to dance, karate, cheer, boxing, and jazz -- they do it all. Sport-specific classes will be added soon, and they are rumored to be a hit among the children and their families. Nutrition classes and information are also being added within the coming months. These classes serve homeschool families, mothers, and preschoolers and connect with schools all around the world.
To some, Active Kids 2.0 might be an hour of yoga in the morning to start the day with a clear mind and heart. To others, it's a way to get their heart pumping, mind thinking, or a way to bring a smile back onto their faces. It's a beautiful platform to help you feel a sense of community when most of the world is at home, isolated from friends and family. Maloney brings light and love to every video on her channel and lets the whole family join in on the fun. You might even see her son bust a move at the end of a video!
"I've gotten so much love from the videos that people have committed to doing them every day," says Maloney. "I will keep doing them until I don't have any viewers. I'll do them as long as I can."