Fitness Can Be Kids Play

Summary: There exists a need for creative and engaging fitness programming for the “youth” market. The currant-programming vacuum in the marketplace creates a unique career opportunity for enterprising fitness professionals. The days of school based physical education classes answering the needs a nd demands of young Canadians is unfortunately ancient history.

Some individuals have already seized the opportunity to jump to the forefront of the next fitness wave. The following article is designed to encourage and perhaps guide fitness Pro’s and parents to take action or at least consider the there options and to understand what the options that are or should be available for their children.

Adult Only? There is a growing awareness that children are not physically fit. What happened in the past twenty years that has led to a plethora of adult fitness innovations, programs and an explosion of fitness club membership by adults? The seniors market is beginning to be explored as baby boomers turn the corner on their fifth decade. The children of the boomer generation have been largely forgotten, except by the fast food and electronic games industry. Enter the “Fat Zone”. Super-size is now moving from its fast food origin to a descriptive of many of today’s youth. Better nutritional choices are just as critical as an active lifestyle.

Where does the buck stop? Part of the problem might lie with the fact that most school systems have marginalized the P.E. content of their curriculums. Part of the problem should be shouldered by parents who focus on their own fitness, but neglect to encourage their children to participate in an active lifestyle. The industry might also examine the attention given to “Kids”, with many clubs being adult only, sometimes even almost hostile toward families. The reality is that with the maturation of the average club membership base, the family is gaining greater importance in respect to long-term membership adhearance.

Parents have a huge influence! A role model and “Cheer-Leader” are two of the hats that a parent must wear in order for their child to develop a healthy outlook on exercise. Supporting and encouraging behaviors must be consistent.

Not just little adults! Just like any other special population, the youth market requires special training, programming and a specific focus. Individual fitness pro’s who enjoy working with children should make the effort to learn how to hone their “Kid specific” skills, and either develop their own program or offer their services to their local fitness center. Equipment found in most Gym’s is oversized for the youth participant and there are few facilities that are inclined to purchase a line of youth sized strength-training machines. There are however many interesting and more economical program options. Some interesting options can include any of the following; Dance based activity, strength exercise, Yoga for kids, Sport specific training (Hockey, Soccer, Skiing, Sport Aerobics, Basketball, Track & Field). Game based activities that have a game theme that requires physical exertion to participate.

At our facility, Studio A, in Beaconsfield, which is only 5000 sq ft, we currently have over 1200 students. We’ve have had great success teaching Hip Hop dance and Sport Aerobics. In fact two of our performance dance troupes won gold medals at the 2003 World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Miami and two of our dance troupes will be opening the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament hill in Ottawa on July 1st. The key is to have something for everyone and a clear progression for participants to follow. Of the 100 or so classes we run each week there are multiple class levels in each age category. Programs that have been great compliments to our core activities include group exercise classes like KidzBo™ a Boxercise class and KidzPump™ a strength training class. Dance classes run for a session of 27 weeks and fitness classes follow a 10 week long session. Finding what type of schedule matches the family and school schedules in your area is of utmost importance.

Who you gonna call? Define the group you wish to address by age and activity, by gender and by location. The matching of personal style, interest, skills and motivation to the audience is as important as any other niche groups. Not everyone can create a magic atmosphere of a playful environment for 3-4 year olds. Not everyone has the empathy to train over-weight teens. Not everyone feels the same way the kids do about “their” favorite music. Figuring where you fit in, requires some introspection. How would kids see you as their trainer and what criteria do they use to judge you when choosing whether or not they will join your program?

Promoting the program you wish to focus on is best done through live demonstration. When they view an actual demonstration kids who feel impressed, feel also that it is for their benefit and they get very excited. Having the related registration materials on hand for kids to bring home to their parents is critical. Explain the details and have a contact number for parents who have additional questions about who you are and what you’re doing. Parents need to ask questions about the program in question. Supervision, safety, format instructional philosophies are all important to have the answers to.

Professional options? Personal Trainers and Group Exercise Instructors can both present their services to the youth market. There are not enough teachers and coaches to go around. The days of extra-curricular activities at school dried up long ago, thus creating a unique opportunity for enterprising individuals to pick up the slack and find their own new niche to scratch. Lunchtime programs, after school activities and weekend are all prime time for the youth market. Imagine how excited a parent is to find for their child an activity that offers an alternative to T.V., the Internet or the mall.

Aside from the fact that working with kids is a great career and business opportunity, it’s fun, refreshing, challenging and most of all rewarding. If parents, personal trainers or group exercise instructors are interested in learning more about children’s fitness, they are welcome to contact Peter at Studio A (514) 694-1411 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (514) 694-1411      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (514) 694-1411 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or by e-mail at corpwel@allstream.net

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