What Do You Think a Trainer’s Role Should Be in Helping Kids Get Fit?
I think the biggest role a trainer has in helping kids is leadership. Lead by example, lead by educating and lead by making exercise fun and enjoyable. The statistics are scary, [indicating that life expectancy for today’s children could be shorter than it is for their parents, because of obesity]. It is our duty as fitness professionals to recognize that children need our help in a lot more ways than we can imagine. With budget cuts looming across the country, and fitness being pushed out of schools in favor of other areas like math and science, we need to step up and lead by example. Let’s look for ways we can share our knowledge, our passion, and our commitment to making this world a healthier place.
Volunteering our time to children is one of the best ways to do this. I volunteer some of my afternoons at one of the local schools in the Las Vegas Valley, and the physical education teacher loves it. I introduce innovative ways for the kids to have fun while working out. I teach them about cardio health, flexibility, strength, core and how to incorporate games into their workouts to make them fun again. Check out this link to view a volunteer day when I focused on cardiovascular strength:
Here is another video that shows how I incorporated games:
At Advanced Training Performance LLC in Las Vegas, we allow children ages 10–17 to attend our outdoor classes for free! Our goal is to provide accessible fitness options that will let kids discover what fitness is all about and have a great social experience while doing so. We also lead group hikes and encourage our clients to bring along their kids. We look for every opportunity to include kids, and we educate our community to prepare for a better future for all of us.
Hayley Hollander, CPT Co-Founder, Advanced Training Performance LLC Las Vegas, Nevada
Trainers can have a major impact on children and their families. With so many youth being overweight or obese, many concerned parents are turning to personal trainers. While parents are a child’s greatest teachers, a trainer’s role can often be a unique blend of teacher, motivator, coach, authority figure and friend.
Personal trainers provide the methods that reinforce the benefits of fitness so children can learn healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime. A good trainer is able to create fitness sessions designed around fun activities that include input from the child. We can help children find activities they enjoy, while teaching them the proper way to exercise safely and effectively. We can offer the expertise and guidance that will help them get in shape, manage their weight and improve their fitness and sports skills. We can also teach them good nutrition and exercise habits, which ensure better health and build self-esteem and confidence.
Linda S. Jassmond Personal Trainer and Owner, Linda S. Jassmond LLC West Grove, Pennsylvania
Personal trainers are some of the unsung heroes in the fight against metabolic syndrome. They are in the forefront of the movement to educate our kids about healthy lifestyles. To help kids, trainers should be good, accessible listeners and motivators.
Being accessible these days does not mean your phone has to be on 24/7. With the advent of social media and smart phones, you can tap into networks that will keep you in tune with all levels and ages of clients. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter™, blogging and IDEA Fitness-Connect are some of the ways to stay accessible and visible. Many kids have access to social media or at least to a computer for YouTube. Invest the time in using free social media to show simple warm-up and cool-down stretches or to explain basic principles of movement.
Really listening to young clients and having an open mind are also key. These abilities will help you find common ground with kids. Tap into your own playfulness, and submerse yourself again in what it is like to be a child. Find out what your young clients like and dislike in movement and then adapt their programs to these preferences. Or teach them a new skill. You can introduce skills through play, which enables social immersion. This in turn will lead to communication, personal growth and fun.
As personal trainers we live lifestyles geared to balancing mind and body. Share this pursuit with your young clients—and their parents. To a certain extent you should reach out and involve the parents in changing their lifestyles—because that will positively affect their children, your clients. Make sure you give clients and their parents positive reinforcement and constructive feedback.
Go into your community and become a positive force of change. Get involved and volunteer some time working with youth programs. Freely share your passion and knowledge. Within your town the word about your services will spread, because kids are social butterflies. Their parents are all potential clients, since they trust you with their most prized possessions.
Marc Coronel Owner, Open Mind Fitness Greenwich, Connecticut
Kids are our future. If we want to change the shape of America and lower obesity rates in this country, it has to start with the kids! When given the right tools and motivation, kids are more likely than adults to change their behavior in a shorter period of time. During the first kids’ program I implemented, with a group of 20 kids, over 80% of them showed significant improvements in their energy levels and stress levels, with over 85% of them changing their eating behavior. It was these results that motivated me to start a nonprofit in Washington, DC, focusing on changing lives one DC school at a time. To be honest, as a personal trainer I find that it can sometimes take months or years to get adult clients to make shifts, but with kids it takes only weeks! Now that is profound.
Here are some outcomes and goals we can use to empower today’s youth:
- Teach kids about healthy eating.
- Teach kids how their body works.
- Educate youth on all aspects of wellness, including behaviors, physical activity, nutrition and emotional wellness (self-confidence).
- Educate youth about cardiovascular fitness, strength, mind-body exercises (meditation, yoga) and dance. Break the traditional physical education mold. Give them cutting-edge fitness and wellness information just as you do with adults. Empowering youth with this knowledge will impact their lives and their families.
Not only do I know from experience how powerful we can be as trainers teaching kids, but I feel it is my duty to pass my knowledge onto future generations in order to have an impact and change obesity rates in America.
Tanya Colucci, MS, NASM-CPT Personal Trainer and Founder, Infinity Wellness Foundation Washington, DC
Trainers can have a major impact on children and their families. With so many youth being overweight or obese, many concerned parents are turning to personal trainers.
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