More and more parents are hiring personal trainers to work with their children to help combat childhood obesity. Thousands of children who are turning to professionals to get in shape. Last year, more than 1 million American youngsters used personal trainers to lose weight, improve fitness or improve their sports skills. Some statistics show that about 30% of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight while about 15% are obese. With PE classes on the decline, it’s no surprise that many parents are turning to personal trainers for help. If you’re looking for ways to get your kids more active, a personal trainer could be the perfect solution.
Personal Training for Kids
One reason parents are turning to personal trainers is to help their kids excel at sports. Another major reason, of course, is help in managing weight problems. Whatever the reason, the decision to hire a personal trainer should be up to you and your child. One thing we do know is that getting kids and teens to exercise can be tough…forcing your child into a type of activity or exercise he doesn’t like can backfire and not every child will enjoy working with a personal trainer.
If your child does express interest in working with a trainer, you might wonder what a trainer can do for your child. A good trainer can help her find activities she can enjoy while teaching her the proper way to exercise for her age and goals. A trainer can also teach her how to lift weights, which has a number of benefits for kids and teens such as:
- More strength
- Protection from injuries
- Better health
- Higher self-esteem and confidence
A trainer can help determine what your child is capable of and teach your child how to exercise safely, effectively, and most importantly, how to have some fun so these habits stick into adulthood.
Other reasons you may want your child to work with a trainer are:
- Sports specific training. Athletes often need specialized training and kids who want to pursue sports may want or need help from a professional to strengthen their bodies, increase their power and endurance and protect them from injuries.
- Guidance for exercise. You may feel at a loss if your child wants to exercise or lift weights and you’re not sure you have the expertise to show them what to do. If that’s the case, the right personal trainer can help you set up a good program that fits your child’s age, goals and fitness level.
- Dislike of organized sports or group fitness. Some kids may not like typical PE or sports, but still want to get in shape. Working one-on-one with a trainer can be a safe environment for them to get fit and strong without feeling self-conscious.
According to the Max Fitness Academy in Sherman Oaks, CA, children under 18 accounted for 17 percent of the 6.3 million people who used trainers in 2006. Max Hany Mikhaiel, the Academy’s CEO and founder of the non-profit Drive Kids to Be Fit, partly attributes the jump to parents’ concern about child obesity: The American Obesity Association estimates that about 30 percent of children from 6 to 19 are overweight.
With cutbacks in physical education programs across the country, Max says that many children aren’t getting regular exercise in school unless they play an organized sport. Drive Kids to be Fit, was developed as a fun and effective way to teach kids good nutrition and exercise habits. The non-profit organization is a community partner in National Institute of Health’s We Can! Program, a national initiative to reduce the number of overweight and obese children. “The goal is to reach every single overweight kid in the country,” says Max, “by getting them involved in community activities . . getting them out of the house and into being active.” The 15-week program is currently available at Max Fitness Academy and free to qualified low income children ages 8 – 13 and will be launched in several local area schools this fall. Trainers and Nutritionists from Max Fitness Academy will visit schools to teach 1½ hour classes on good eating habits, weight training and cardiovascular exercise.
So today’s parents see a personal trainer as a phys-ed tutor who can help a struggling child get fit. Certified in teen and pre-teen fitness, fitness trainers agrees that self-esteem typically booms as a child’s body image improves.”When you are strong, no matter what your age, you are braver about everything else,” Max says. He defends parents who hire trainers for their children, equating the expense to that of other outside lessons like dance or music.
These days, it seems as though everybody is talking about overweight and obesity and what to do about it. Why is it such a big deal? Because, as a Nation, we’ve been getting steadily heavier. The number of adults who are obese has increased dramatically, even in the past decade or so. And it’s not just a slightly larger waistline that might come with middle age. It’s weight gain that damages our health. According to national data analyzed, it’s estimated that 65 percent of Americans are now overweight or obese, and more than 61 million adults are obese. Adults aren’t the only ones who’ve been getting heavier. Children have been getting heavier as well. The percentage of children and teens who are overweight has more than doubled since the 1970s. About 16 percent of children and teens are overweight.
The Downside of Overweight
People have lots of reasons to care if they weigh too much, both in the short run and over the long haul. In the short run, when a child is overweight, it can be hard to keep up with friends, play outside at recess, or wear the latest styles. Other kids at school can sometimes tease. Excess weight can be hard for adults, too. Clothes feel too tight, it’s not always easy to be active, and one can tire easily.
Those extra pounds also have long-term consequences for both adults and children. Overweight is linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions. Health experts are especially concerned about the long-term consequences of excess weight in children. For example, type 2 diabetes was once rare in children. Now, it is estimated to account for 8 to 45 percent of newly diagnosed cases of childhood diabetes. Most cases of type 2 diabetes in children occur in those who are overweight. And overweight children are likely to become overweight or obese adults.
It’s one thing to think about the national epidemic of obesity, but as a parent, what can you do about it? The two main ways to encourage and maintain a healthy weight and prevent overweight are to make smart food choices and to be physically active.
That is what Max Fitness Academy’s Drive Kids to Be Fit and is all about–giving you lots of ideas that can help you and your family take action for a healthy weight.