The Fitness Zone
Childhood obesity rates have been increasing, while physical education classes in school gain less prominence due to changes in curriculum. Many concerned parents are turning to personal trainers not only for themselves, but also for their kids.
Although training kids is a rewarding experience and an excellent addition to your business model, it’s not any easy niche to branch into. Here’s our thoughts on why you should consider training kids and how to approach it.
Why train kids?
Only a quarter of 5-15 year olds in Australia meet the recommended level of physical activity outside of school hours. These statistics have been blamed on increased consumption of entertainment through a multitude of devices. Teenagers who are overweight have a 70% chance of being overweight or obese when they become adults. This can lead to health risks such as heart disease. Therefore, it’s important to introduce physical activity at a young age.
While formal after-school sports are a great way for kids to get active, maintain their fitness and ensure physical development, not every child is competitive or enjoys these activities.
But times have changed. Personal trainers have become valuable resources for children looking for alternative forms exercise outside of school. Competent trainers with an expertise in working with children are in high demand.
Training kids is also extremely rewarding and loads of fun. There are programs and exercises designed for kids that are exciting and enjoyable, but just won’t work as well for adults. As well as this, training children can bring in extra income to your business.
How to train them?
Until recently it was thought that resistance training was unsafe and ineffective for children. However now we know that there are many physical benefits for children who participate in resistance training, such as:
Decreased risk of injury.
Improved long-term health.
Enhanced sports performance.
In addition, resistance training can increase children’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
There are some basic rules and considerations that need to be followed when training kids:
Activities must be fun and stimulating.
You need to know how kids think and what is of interest to them, without trying to be one of them.
You need to be able to reinforce rules, encourage and motivate.
Always remember that children are not “mini-adults”, and therefore should trained with a totally approach.
The exercises must be performed in a safe environment with protective clothing and equipment being suitable for children.
Personal training for kids can be conducted one-on-one or in groups. Group programs offer children many benefits, such as social interaction opportunities and an enhanced fun factor.
Kids should see training as something positive, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that training sessions don’t feel like a chore.
What needs to be different?
Training kids comes with an extra twist - you have to satisfy two sets of clients, usually with very different needs and wants.
Parents tend to enrol their children in personal training because they want them either to excel in a sport or lose weight. Kids, on the other hand, may just want to have fun and make some friends. Parents may pay for the sessions, but the children are your priority, and as a personal trainer you should meet their needs.
Sessions need to be fun
Sessions also need to be structured differently to adult sessions. The more motivating, fun and supportive the environment, the more fun the kids will have. Think about activities you enjoyed as a child that were physical in nature, and use this as a basis to work on your own program/session for children.
You will need an array of colourful equipment that is attractive to a child’s eye, as well as provides safe, stimulating, creative and educational activities. You don’t have to organise sets and reps like you do in an adult program. Activities such as dancing, riding bikes, swimming, rebounding on trampolines and rollerskating are great alternative exercise types that are less structured. Competitive games like soccer and hockey make great use of the outdoors and encourage physical activity.
Personal training may not be the solution for every child, but for some kids it can be a great way to learn healthy behaviour and habits that will last a lifetime. It's also a great way for an overweight child to get some immediate result,s and reinforce the benefits of fitness or for a kid with low self-esteem, ready to find some self-confidence.
Would you like to have a positive impact on a child’s life? As a personal trainer you have a real opportunity to change the lives of children and help them to thrive with their health into their adult life.