Today’s children are growing up in a world that is increasingly sedentary and connected to technology. While you might want to believe that TikTok provides kids and teens with sufficient physical activity, it’s not really true! Of course, I don’t need to tell you that physical activity is necessary for healthy child development and that health problems related to poor lifestyle habits are well documented and represent a real epidemic in North America.
Did you know that play and physical activity allow children to develop problem solving, logical reasoning and socialization skills? That’s in addition to experiencing the success and failures that prepare kids to face the challenges that future learning will bring.
With all this in mind, it’s not surprising that the demand for children’s fitness programs has increased steadily over the last few months of lockdown.
Training for kids is still taboo, and many trainers don’t dare provide it as they don’t quite know where to start. It’s important to understand that there’s no magic solution, since every child is different and therefore has unique needs. However, there are a few general guidelines and tips you can follow to make the experience more enjoyable for you and them! Plus, you’ll feel more confident during your classes.
Now, how do you convince parents that it’s a good idea? It’s simple! Since training has as many benefits for children as it does for adults, you just need to capitalize on these benefits, which include improved confidence, athletic ability and understanding of a healthy lifestyle, to ensure success!
Functional training makes young people more confident by encouraging them to try new things, take more risks and believe in their potential. We often forget how scary it can be to jump on a box or hang from a bar in the air. Your support will be critical at all times. You’ll need to pay close attention so you can adjust the task to the skill level and abilities of the kids you’re training. Like with any team sport, working in a group also teaches children how to interact with their peers and develop valuable social skills, in addition to making them more motivated and dedicated. With proper support, children who do training feel like they are accomplishing something, because they see marked improvements in their skills. Positive feedback from coaches and peers increases their self-esteem. Basically, they learn how to overcome obstacles in life and believe in themselves. They will cherish these values later on.
Improved athletic ability
Like adults, when children train, their bodies adapt to become stronger, faster, fitter and generally healthier. Because of the various disciplines and tasks included in functional training, participating children will discover that sports help them develop in ways that will be beneficial as they age, including improved coordination, stronger bones, and lean, healthy muscles. Contrary to popular belief, strength training for children is quite beneficial, when they have proper coaching. For over 20 years, countless studies have confirmed that training and lifting weights does not affect growth; on the contrary, it has positive long-term effects. These can be divided into two major categories:
Learning fitness techniques increases the demand on the nervous system, so when a teen’s muscles have to perform a task that is just complicated enough, the connection between their brain and their muscles is better and stronger.
Using mild to moderate loads that young teens can handle without getting exhausted lets them develop thicker tendons, creating a kind of “life insurance” against future injuries.
Improved understanding of a healthy lifestyle
Training provides children with an opportunity to be physically active and instills healthy habits and skills at an early age. Older kids who don’t enjoy sports often love training when it’s taught in a fun way! It’s never too early to learn the importance of exercise and the benefits of eating well.
Believe in yourself! Remember that everyone makes mistakes and every child is different. Fun is contagious!
Karen was initially a trainer at the Énergie Cardio centre in Trois-Rivières. After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in kinesiology, she opened her own CrossFit studio. She then moved to Montreal and took over the Énergie Cardio centre in Complexe Desjardins. Karen is now the centre’s head trainer and oversees all special training projects. In addition to her vast professional experience, Karen is also a distinguished CrossFit athlete.