I am going to start working with a 4th grader for the first time. And need help from experienced trainers with that age group. She’s not all that wild about the idea, so it has to be fun. I have all the typical toys: ropes, ladders, balls, sandbags/bells, etc. I have 30 years experience as a trainer, so don’t need basic trainer advice. just need a format and some tips to keep it moving. about her: she is on a swim team and takes hip-hop at the dance studio. Her mother is concerned about her weight and would like her to be influenced by the idea of exercise being fun.
I would bet that kids of that age might be more apt to participate and enjoy exercise in a group of friends. Is it possible to train this girl with a good friend or friends or team mates? She might be a more willing participant that way, and if she does it with team mates, she might not feel so singled out or “forced” to do it.
There are tons of games you can play:
Deck of cards – each suit is an exercise/each card value is your reps
Ladders – each set adds to 10 reps i.e. set one = 9 burpees/1 squat; set 2 = 8 burpees/2 squats etc.
Dice – roll one for exercise from a list of 6 and then roll a second for reps (and even a 3rd for number of sets if you want).
Pick an exercise out of a hat
Do challenges – how long can you hold left side plank? right side plank? How many lunges can you do in a row without resting etc.
I would just make it fun, you can still teach good form and interject basic principles of fitness that will serve her her whole life but in a fun way.
I am also sure that her mother is very well-intentioned and just wants her daughter to be healthy, but you never know how a child might internalize that. I am just speaking generally, and not specific to your situation as I am not familiar with anyone involved, but parents can have a profound effect on how kids view their bodies, and could have negative effects even with the best intentions. I would make sure her training is totally focused on fun, getting stronger/fitter, better at her sports etc. and that weight loss and torching calories (while it might be a by product) are not mentioned or a big deal.
Sounds like you have lots of experience and tools at your disposal, and I am sure you can come up with tons of fun for her. Good luck!
Although you have many years of experience, training a youth that young is different from training an adult with regard to their programming, growing bodies and limitations. IDEA has a few good articles on this, and it may be helpful to go through a few to start. I personally would not feel comfortable training someone that young unless I did some research. I do agree that it needs to be fun, so hopefully you can find something she likes. I have trained teenagers, and if there is a way you can incorporate some music they like, that seems to work well to add to the fun.
Hope this helps you and good luck!
There is no cut & dry format or formula for training 9 year olds – at least that I know of. It sounds like she’s pretty active but mom is feeding her the wrong foods – get to the bottom of that first. Workout wise – I’d just keep her moving with fun activities. Of course, avoid all overhead strength activities or anything that stresses the spine vertically. Ladder, ropes, body weight exercises should be fine. If you’re going to use weights, keep them very light. Like mom said – make it fun! Good luck Andrea.
You are so right that it will need to be fun. And one of the most important parts of making it fun is for you to have fun, too. I have worked with swimmers, divers, and gymnasts in this age group. I like to interact with them and do everything with them. It sounds like you will be one-on-one with this young lady, so it will be even more important for you to be doing things with her. Otherwise she will feel that you are just bossing her around. Swimming and dance are very dependent on core integration. Doing things that combine moves with added resistance in another plane of motion are great for this type of integration. Like doing squats facing each other (you can add music if you are good with moving to the beat). On the way down and up you can clap each others’ cross body hand several times. Once the clapping motion becomes easy, you could keep contact and push a little bit. Or you could stop and do a series of claps every few inches. And so on. Adding these multiple plane forces will really make it engaging and try to laugh it up a little and make it playful.
This is just a small peek into what is possible and how to draw less enthusiastic young people into enjoying fitness and exercise. I teach a CEC class for this and a lot more. If you are every going to be coming to the Big Island of Hawaii, get in touch with me. I would enjoy meeting you and giving you some more insights. You can email me at [email protected] as well and we can correspond. I am sure you have some great ideas to share as well. I hope you have some fun with your new client.
Sounds like this is all coming from the mom
It’s really too bad that she is making weight an issue for her daughter.
Perhaps you could recommend s nutritionist/RD to talk with them about food choices as this is the real reason people are overweight.
Making a child exercise will sometimes make them hate to exercise.