Square gyms for round kids

“ Square pegs in round holes” is an expression connoting that one thing may not be the ideal fit for another, it implies impossibility of solution.  I’ve always thought that it also implies something out-of-place, an imperfect match.  In the world of fitness we see so many square pegs aiming for round holes and covering their “squareness” with misdirection.  We hear adult trainers from adult fitness clubs proclaiming that they are  the perfect fit for training children and helping kids with physical goals to attain them.  When you ask them they tell you that the human body is the human body and training is training and it’s usually followed by something like “and for the low low price per month I can have your child looking like a superhero”. Wrong.

Physical training for children starts with understanding that children are children, and that is the most important consideration in working toward fitness goals. We get hoodwinked when we see the ultra-fit trainer and imagine how they could influence our kids to be fit. The fact is that many trainers have never worked with children, many don’t have children and many pursue being trainers just to have access to a gym for themselves.

I had a great conversation with a guy on a plane recently, who was a trainer and had clients pretty much to offset his own goals of training and giving him access to the world he felt comfortable in, the gym.  We talked about our Motion Evolution program at Gymfinity and he was right on board. When I brought up principles of non-competition, he nodded emphatically . When I told him that we strive to make fitness fun so kids understand, first, that being physical is not intimidating he countered with telling me that eventually they’ll learn about “no pain no gain, right?” Wrong. When I explained the concept of physical literacy learning skill foundations to develop higher level motor skills as kids grow) he was right with me, but couldn’t breakdown a simple skill for an example. When I explained about the research behind the brain-body connection and how training certain skills can actually enhance learning he reached for the Sky-Mall magazine signaling that we were done talking fitness.

This guy is probably a great trainer for adults. Most health clubs are made for adults. They provide machines built for grown ups, have grown ups using them and foster an atmosphere of adult-ness in their gyms. And that’s OK. But have you ever brought your child to a “health club”?  It’s not for them. Just like the floor at Gymfinity is not for adults, and that’s OK too.  Gymfinity has provided the ideal fitness program….for kids.

With Motion Evolution we have a program that makes fitness accessible to all kids. I have a class I teach that has athletic kids and kids who are not movers. The class is structured so that everyone can play AND get a good “FunOut.” (We don’t push “work-outs).  We have games, challenges and circuits designed to make the kids have fun while exercising. We also provide a handout, usually something about nutrition and the kids get points for completing their “homework”. Their motivation for homework points is that with a build up of points they get a snack party. Healthy snacks as a reward for healthy behavior. What a concept.  We know that the mind is opened, so to speak, after exercise, and what better time than that to impart some nutritional education. Brief lessons about basic nutrition, presented for kids to be owned and remembered. This is not what an adult health club does. That’s us being the round peg for the round hole. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2-IWYJK0xw]

We also see that some square pegs are just what this round hole world needs. Regina Benjamin, the United States’ 18th Surgeon General, and she is a bit overweight. But beside that, she brings great credibility to the world on topics and matters of health and fitness. My high school health teacher, Mr. White, was a huge guy, but the lessons he taught changed my life.  These unlikely heroes for health may not be the poster children for the fitness world but they cannot be discounted either.  Our natural reaction is to discredit  the overweight nutrition teacher or the flabby SG. And give more weight (no pun intended) to  the often uncredited guidance of a svelte personal trainer.  And why wouldn’t we? The proof is in the pudding, is the old adage.  In the same line, we know that the local health clubs have done amazing work with our friends and business colleagues, there is the pudding. But that pudding is not for children, so we need to be careful that we don’t mistakenly give it value for something that  it has no design to affect.  Adult oriented  gyms.  are great for what they do, but they might not be perfect for all things. When seeking information on calories and caloric expenditure Mr. White could be the voice of experience, but I wouldn’t want him planning my diet.

There is a place for everyone in the fitness world. The health clubs of Madison (and there is one where ever two roads cross) are great for adults, but parents need to understand that there is a special place that is made for children; a place that provides the goals and training your children need in a way that your children want, with fun.  Being active and playing in the park is a start. A few posts back I spoke about how simply getting out of your chair for 5 minutes to play with your kids is a start. It’s overcoming that inertia that can start a ball rolling toward a better place. The next step for your kids is active time just for them; getting them to play fitness with a Gymfinity FunOut. Click here to see more about Motion Evolution from our website or here for more from the international Motion Evolution website.



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