Raising “fit” kids


Becoming a mother almost 5 years ago came with its list of concerns.  One of the concerns that crossed my mind, perhaps because I’ve always been involved in fitness in some way, was, “Will my child be athletic?”  Now, I know that being athletic and fit are two different things.  You don’t necessarily have to be an athlete to be physically fit.  I understand that.  However, when I thought about whether she’d be athletic, back then, I thought more about what it would be that she’d enjoy doing, enabling her to stay physically fit.  I always enjoyed team sports and running.  Would she like to dance?  I was always excited to learn to play a new sport.  Would she be a gymnast?  Silly, but these are some of the things that crossed my mind.

The last statistic I read, at least a year ago and was most likely from the CDC (but I don’t recall specifically when and where, just the fact I’m about to share), was that childhood obesity had tripled over the past 30 years.  That is just amazing to me!  Why?  Well, because I feel, as a parent, I have a little control over that with my own child.

Because I felt so strongly about my child beginning her life of physical fitness at an early age, I enrolled her in a program at The Little Gym in Hunt Valley.  She started literally weeks after we brought her home from Guatemala.  She didn’t know how to walk, she couldn’t speak, but she was taking a gym class.  Of course, it was Mommy & Me (or “Parent Child” as they call it at TLG), but it was something.  My daughter was getting her “Daily allowance of self-esteem”, and I was learning that “Motor skill development made fun builds confidence that leads to a lifetime of success”, just as their ad states.  I realize that she’s still only pushing 5 years old, but I truly accredit a place like The Little Gym and its phenomenal staff for helping mold her into the child she is today.  She’s energetic, loves physical activity, isn’t afraid to try new things (most of the time), and she feels pretty good about herself, I think.  Plus, she’s seeing that physical activity is a part of life – something we do.

There are so many opportunities at a place like The Little Gym.  My daughter started out in Parent/Child classes.  At age 3, she moved into a Pre-School Gymnastics class.  She also danced for a couple semesters, but informed me that wasn’t her thing.  Currently, she is enrolled in a Sports Skills class with 3-6 year olds and LOVES it!  (She’s getting ready for her first soccer season here in the HZ.)  It’s nice to see her choose to go outside to run and play over watching a television show.  Continuing on a path like this will definitely result in a fit kid (if I also remain on top of her eating habits, that is).

I know going to a program like The Little Gym isn’t for everyone.  I was lucky to be at home with my daughter and blessed to have the joy of beginning these classes with her.  However, there are other options out there.  Yes, it is now time for me to plug my most fabulous gym… Gold’s Gym, Shrewsbury!  At Gold’s, one of our fabulous instructors, Connie, has just started the Junior Fitness Academy.  This is a fitness program (classes 2x/week) designed for kids ages 5-16.  It’s definitely something worth checking out, but here’s a bit of an explanation:

5-7 year old Class:  Promotes a love for physical activity at a young age by teaching body awareness skills, games that incorporate some cardio activity, flexibility and strength.

8-12 year old Class:  Pre-teen introduction to strength training while advancing cardio activity and flexibility skills through fitness interval games.

13-16 year old Class:  Teens participate in a strength training program that focuses on major muscle groups while incorporating cardio and flexibility routines, assisting with sports training and/or general health training.

This kind of program is yet another way to introduce your child/ren to or have them continue on in healthy activities.  Instead of playing video games while you’re at the gym, your 9-year-old could be learning about strength training and increasing his/her flexibility.  I think that’s a win/win!

As for the new program at Gold’s Gym, you can come check out the demo at 9:30am on July 9th.  It coordinates with our Biggest Loser Finale, so you could also meet Jay from this past season’s show, as he’s our guest that day.  If you’re interested in helping your young one grow up fit and happy with the help of The Little Gym, I know they always offer a free trial class.  In some way, shape or form, let’s help reverse that horrific statistic I shared earlier.  Let’s commit to raising fit kids!

Carri Nelsen

Do you have a ‘Wellness Wedsneday’ question for Carri? 

Send it to blogs@thezonemag.com and we’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post. 

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