Graham watched as his 8-year-old daughter, Virginia, prepared to shoot a basket in the gym of Greenbriar West Elementary School.

She bounced the basketball three times and then, bending her knees, threw it into the air, swishing it straight through the basket. The senior Graham seemed pleased, so pleased that he grabbed another ball and joined his daughter in shooting baskets.

And that was exactly what organizers of the Family Fun and Fitness Night last Tuesday night at the Chantilly elementary school hoped would happen -- kids and parents exercising and having a good time together. If parents could be inspired to exercise themselves, then they would encourage their children to do the same.

"It's a lot like counseling," said John Prohaska, assistant principal at Greenbriar West. "Everybody in the family has to do it."

For more than an hour and half, the nearly 400 parents and students who turned up at the school in jeans, sweat suits, Reeboks and tennis shoes played basketball and volleyball, tumbled, jumped rope, had their bodies analyzed for fat content and took blood pressure tests at the eight exercise stations set up at the school. Green Bay Packer Robert Brown was on hand to give participants a few pointers in the art of serving a volleyball.

"This is an all-around excellent event," Odis Graham said. "It's a good thing to get parents and students together, and not only for exercise. I don't know how often people have their blood pressure checked or have stress tests."

While educators say that Greenbriar West pupils are in pretty good shape -- the school was Virginia's first-place winner of the President's Physical Fitness Award during the 1986-87 school year -- they are concerned about reports of declining fitness levels among the nation's youth.

"If you compare the child today with the child of 20 years ago, there's a new culprit on the block and that's TV," said Bill Savage, who coordinates physical education for the Fairfax County schools. Because television "cuts into the child's active playtime, our children are not as active as they once were. The physical fitness level has declined," he said.

In response to a 1985 report issued by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports that pointed to declining fitness levels among youth nationwide, Fairfax County has upgraded its fitness testing to include a mile run in addition to tests for upper body strenth and flexibility, Savage said. The testing, which starts in the first grade, is done twice a year.

For David and Carla Nees, the importance of exercising with their two sons, Dave, 8, a third grader, and Andy, 5, was reinforced by the fitness night.

"I think it will inspire us to help each other to remember exercising. And I think we will do more family exercising riding bikes, walking together," Carla Nees said.

In the cafeteria's tumbling station, Tice DeYoung and his daughter Courtney, 10, a fifth grader, had a great time jumping over each other.

"{My dad} is doing pretty good except for the cartwheels," Courtney said.

"Well, you couldn't do a kick up, so I guess we're even," her father said.

DeYoung, who stays in shape by jogging regularly, said he thought the program was good because it was challenging and it gave the kids a chance to see another side of their parents.

"Parents are the people who bring the kids to school, make them do their homework. {Kids} don't think of parents tumbling," he said.

Physical education teacher Sally Ventresco, who dreamed up the family fitness night, said that she has wanted to do this event for several years. In addition to encouraging regular exercise, Ventresco said it was important for parents and children to spend time together.

"There are a lot of {families} where both parents are working. We are getting more and more latchkey kids. Kids need more of an opportunity for a touching relationship," she said.

And many of the parents agreed.

"{This event} makes you take off from work and spend time with your child. And that's important," said Skip Lane, whose daughter Katy is a first grader at the school.