The Fitness Zone
Have you ever thought about training kids? Fitness is super important for all ages and kids are no less important in this area. Not all kids are as active as they should be for their own health to be maximised. Although this leads to a nice little ‘gap’ in the training market where you may like to specialise, unfortunately too many fitness professionals just assume that children are just ‘little adults’ and so exercise prescription is pretty much the same, with a few minor alterations, to adults. Not so.
Why is training kids different to adults?
The fundamental programming that underpins training of children so that you select the right exercises is different to that of adults. When training children it is vital that you consider factors such as:
Growth and maturation – kids mighty little bodies are not equipped for the same programs as adults
Coordination development and control – this will vary from child-to-child and can affect safety
Stability – again, each child is different and you can really do some great work at enhancing their stability but take care not to push too far before they are ready
Posture – this will vary according to so many circumstances, one of them being puberty and changes in body shape as they age
Fundamental skills including gross motor skills and in some cases fine motor skills – so many kids are lacking in this area and then ‘opt-out’ of sport and physical activity because of fear of failure
Aerobic capacity – kids’ lungs are not adult lungs! They need age- and development-stage appropriate cardiovascular programs!
Each child is different and knowing the fundamental differences between children is vital to safe exercise prescription. It’s also important to know your obligations in regards to the laws and regulations. Major considerations include:
Upholding your Duty of care
Making sure you have a Working with Children Check
Making sure that the centre’s facility environment is child-friendly
Using fitness equipment suitable for children.
What training should I undertake?
Fitness standards in Australia have recently been updated. It’s now possible to study a unit of competency specifically aimed at instructing movement programs to children aged between 5 and 12. This is a great move forward for the Australian fitness industry as it recognises the importance of age-appropriate physical activity in this age group. Beyond that it’s also possible to learn how to appropriately train children between the ages of 13 and 17 when you gain your personal training qualification (through a Certificate IV in Fitness).
It’s time to get involved!
Once you have done your extra learning with children it will be vital to get some more experience with the little munchkins themselves. You can’t properly learn how to train kids if you don’t ‘train kids’. Their behaviours and reactions can be so different to those of adults and you can have the best program plan but it falls to pieces because the kids are tired, hungry or just not ‘in the mood’. Being able to deal with all these variations takes skill…and useful strategies.
One of the great ways to get started is with a company that already has an established system in place, such as the franchised Ready Steady Go Kids. By starting out getting experience with companies already in the mix with children you will have a framework to work and learn from. The other factor that is a huge consideration is…collaborating with parents. In effect, it’s the parents that are your client too. Being prepared for this is essential and takes excellent communication and skill.
For more information about fitness courses and how you can specialise in kids fitness visit our course page.