It’s a common lament among modern American parents. Even those parents whose kids are “athletic”, we hear similar complaints.
“I can’t get him to exercise. All he wants to do is play baseball and then sit on the couch and play video games.”
“I wish I could get her to do something more active.”
“It seems like he has a hard time keeping the weight off.”
Let’s face facts: the days when kids came home from school, ran in the house and flew through their homework so they could race outside and play like fiends until the dinner whistle (bell, yell or whatever) are pretty much over.
Now, the most predominant after school activity seems to involve a computer or video game. The most frequent interaction seems to be “texting.” Our kids now have strong fingers, but weak bodies and extra body fat.
Even the sports culture has been seemingly co-opted. The only kids who get to play consistently are the “all-stars.” Rec sports, where every kid can play, are giving way to travel teams, showcase teams and elite squads.
What is a parent to do?
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m a big fan of organized sports. However, I recognize that the loss of much of the “Saturday morning” league sports culture has created a gap in the fitness culture for many kids. That might be where a Fitness Trainer comes in! Many trainers are now actually specializing in Youth Fitness.
Should your child work with a Youth Fitness Trainer? The answer is “yes” if
- Your child is an athlete who isn’t getting any fitness-based exercise currently. For example, if your child has baseball, soccer, softball, lacrosse, hockey or basketball (or any other sport) practice several nights a week, with no fitness or conditioning exercise included, a Youth Fitness Trainer may be right for him/her.
- Your child is obese, whether sedentary or active. Obesity in children should be taken seriously. Many kids are showing up in doctors offices with coronary artery disease, congestive heart problems, Type II diabetes, arthritis and other “adult” chronic conditions and diseases.
- Your child expresses an interest in trying a fitness regimen.
- Your child is very athletic and would benefit from the help of a professional Youth Fitness Trainer. NOTE: Beware of “sport-specific” training programs for kids under about 13. Specializing your kids in the unique movement patterns of a single sport, or worse, on position within a sport, may doom him/her to a lifetime of injuries specific to that sport. Example:Parents who seek a pitching instructor to teach a child under 13 to throw a curve ball or other high movement pitches. This can lead to injury patterns in the shoulder and elbow later, and may shorten the player’s career.
- Your child is under-coordinated compared to his/her age peers. A qualified Youth Fitness Trainer can create a program and atmosphere in which your child can feel confident and develop better levels of strength, agility and coordination.
- You want your child to develop healthy exercise habits for life!
A qualified Youth Fitness Trainer will build a program based on age, coordination, current physical condition, sports goals, if any and the child’s exercise experience.
Many times, these sessions will look a lot like “old school” phys ed classes. Good! Kids should learn to manage their body-weight and to perform basic exercises before moving to more complex and advanced exercises or programs. Push-ups, pull-ups, lunging, squatting, overhead lifting, throwing, running and other movements are essential to human movement as well as sports performance.
Hire a qualified trainer or company. Discuss your goals for your children with that trainer. The trainer should be able to simply and clearly explain to you how he/she assesses kids, develops programs and judges progress.
You should be invited to watch sessions (no sideline coaching, parents!) whenever you choose. Billing systems should be simple and transparent.
I would suggest a trainer who works in a small group environment. Usually, your child will be put in a group of kids with similar goals, ages and current conditions. The group dynamic often takes the emphasis off the child, and what he/she can or can’t do.
The key word to remember is “FUN!” Promoting a healthy lifestyle should begin at home. Getting a little professional help on the outside can make it easier!
If you’re in the Ocean County, New Jersey area, you can get the help you need for your child by contacting All-Star Sports Academy at http://www.allstarsportsacademynj.com/contact
IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist
NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist
All-Star Sports Academy
Toms River, NJ
Phil is responsible for designing and implementing programs for children and youth athletes in the areas of strength, speed, agility, power, sports performance and injury prevention. In the past 8 years, he has worked with over 50 All-County and All-Shore athletes, 20 All-State athletes, 11 Division I scholarship athletes. He has also worked with professional athletes in several sports, including the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 NHL entry draft!
All-Star Sports Academy is the recognized leader in the sports performance training and youth fitness fields. They have been called on by high schools, colleges, AAU, ASA, NSA, Pop Warner, Little League, Cal Ripken and club sports organizations to design fun and effective programming to improve athletic and sports-specific skill sets. Contact All-Star for a free one week trial in FitKidz! Sports Fitness, Small Group Training for Athletes or Power Fitness Camp for Women! Coaches can ask about Team Training services. http://www.allstarsportsacademynj.com