When it comes to working out in the gym, how early is too early? If trends are anything to go by, then it seems teenagers and even preteens (the 10-12 crowd) are hitting the gym these days and reaping all the benefits their elderly companions get. It is an interesting development that will go a long way in reducing the high obesity and overweight levels in this country.
Preteens And Teenagers In The Gym
The Washington Post writes about the Green Valley YMCA in Frederick County (Monrovia, MD), where children as young as 11 are allowed as long as they are accompanied by adults. The various exercise machines are a source of wonder to the young minds while early exposure to structured exercise routines builds the kind of mental and physical discipline that can last they child his or her entire lifetime.
Advantages Of Allowing Children to Start Using The Gym Early
Getting a child motivated to exercise is only one part of the story. The gym is also a great place to develop a parent-child rapport. In a world where the Wii-playing, Twitter-Facebook using younger generation rarely crosses paths with the office-going, T.V. watching older one, the gym can turn into one of those common activities both groups can enjoy doing together.
“I wouldn’t say that all kids need to be in the gym, but I have a home gym and my kids love it,” says Seth Blee, a physical therapist who is clinic director at the Inova Physical Therapy Center in Alexandria. “If the parents are exercising to be healthy, they can be great role models.” Kathleen McHale, a pediatric orthopedist at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children, notes that parent-child exercise “is a little bit like eating dinner together as a family.” [Washington Post]
Exercising also helps build core muscle strength and improves the balance and posture in children. It build s confidence and where kids use the gym with friends it builds a feeling of community and partnership.
Adjustments In The Gym And Safety Factors
It is of course a given that most gyms have equipment that specifically caters to adults, so in these cases, slight modifications need to be made to the machines or gym-layout to make them kid-friendly. Certain rules are also enforced to ensure the safety of children such as requiring the children to always be within sighting -distance of their parents or guardians or requiring a certification by a personal trainer.
To conclude, I think the arrival of the younger generation in the gym is an excellent trend and, in fact, one that needs more encouraging. With due care for proper safety and procedure, exercising at young ages will help the child not only in physical activities or improving general heath, but will also improve confidence and aid in better performance in the classroom.
After all, we all know that it’s a sound mind in a sound body.