Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teen Bootcamp

Well, I survived my first Teen Bootcamp class and will teach it again today. Only this time, I'll have my awesome music. We have two fitness studios at the gym, and only one has an iPod hookup. This I did not know, which forced me to use a backup disc of (not so cool) music. Total bummer, but not a complete buzz kill. I had two girls in my class (they were friends), and they were great. Well motivated, and ready for anything. We started off with some active stretching, a bit of cardio in the form of knee-ups and crab walks and running, then a short strength training routine before ending with a medicine ball game and some static stretching. 45 minutes of fun, and as I get to know the kids a little better, I can only hope it gets even more fun. And more fun.

If you recall, I signed up for an at-home Youth Strength Training course last month. I'm happy to report that the studying is almost complete. I have but one video to watch before I take the test, but check this out:

Behold the answers, which are conveniently located upside down in the back of the book. Psha! Can you believe it? Why did I take all those notes?! Oh, yeah—because I actually wanted to learn something. Cheater, I am not. Heck no. To prove it, I'll share some bits of what I learned.

Bit #1: It's perfectly safe for children to strength train, provided they have the emotional maturity to accept rules and follow direction. Many parents believe that it stunts the growth process, but there isn't any proof to support that theory. As with any strength training routine, it facilitates bone growth and muscle development. It also teaches control which, of course, prevents injury.

Bit #2: They make strength training machines for children. Who knew?! Machines built for adults don't always fit a child's smaller frame, though a child would be fine on adult machines that require pushing and pulling. Like the leg press or the seated row machines. For everything else, strength training machines made specifically for children work best. If they aren't available, dumbbells and other fitness "toys" are also appropriate.

Bit #3: Endurance activities don't necessarily enhance a child's aerobic capacity. They typically respond better to interval training. That's why strength training should be combined with stop-and-go activities like relay races and short laps around a track.

Bit #4: Youth strength training programs should be fun. Not competitive. It's all about building self-esteem, more so than strength. Especially when said youth are, in fact, teens. You remember that stage, don't you? Awkward.

If I learn anything else on the video, I will certainly let you know. I'm hoping to watch it soon. In between "The West Wing" and "Sex and the City," both of which are currently on rotation in my house.

Question: Does your gym have equipment made specifically for children? How would you convince a parent to sign their child up for strength training activities? And, if you are a parent, does your child get enough physical activity at school or after it? I get worried when I hear about gym classes being pulled from the curriculum. Also, did you watch "The West Wing" when it aired a few years ago? SO GOOD.

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