Should Kids Be In The Gym?

Get better at the sports you play and the life you lead at STACK. Improve your training, nutrition and lifestyle with daily

Life with kids is undoubtedly no easy task. They change everything. They also give parents a gift that can never be forgotten by seeing them develop into young adults.

Part of that development can include training and recreational sports. There is nothing better than seeing your own blood perform and train with love and passion, and even more so at a high level.

If you are like me, you have kids. Currently, I am "one of those" dads with two under the age of two. You can guess how many tags I get from social media weekly of babies lifting mini barbells and lighter weights with diapers and smiling ear to ear while having their father oozing with joy for their accomplishment.

Read More >>

Life with kids is undoubtedly no easy task. They change everything. They also give parents a gift that can never be forgotten by seeing them develop into young adults.

Part of that development can include training and recreational sports. There is nothing better than seeing your own blood perform and train with love and passion, and even more so at a high level.

If you are like me, you have kids. Currently, I am "one of those" dads with two under the age of two. You can guess how many tags I get from social media weekly of babies lifting mini barbells and lighter weights with diapers and smiling ear to ear while having their father oozing with joy for their accomplishment.

It comes with being a gym owner. But it also comes with being a parent. This stems from the question many of you wonder once they get the urge to start lifting weights.

At what age is it okay to start having them lift weights?

This question can be taken out of context. This is why the answer is never as simple as many would hope.

To be clear, they can start at any age. It all comes down to what and how you introduce weights to your child. Do you want your ten-year-old loading up on barbell movements? No, but can they do neat and creative ways to support their basic needs as an athlete with circuits using medicine balls, bands, boxes, and agility drills? They certainly can!

I think most of us need to think of it this way. How did many amazing professional athletes and even yourself get good at your sport you love?

You practiced at an early age. I am sure Tom Brady began picking up and throwing a football before he could walk. Was he in full-on gear and pads getting knocked around at age 5? Of course not, but let's try to relate this to training and lifting weights.

Why should it be any different? To get kids to enjoy and be good at it, why must we put an "age limit" to when they can join in?

It doesn't mean they have to lift, but avoiding it at all costs seems cyclical. Nearly one in five young people (18 percent) worldwide are overweight or obese. That's 340 million children and adolescents being overweight. This was from the World Health Organization.

So if there is one sure thing, we need to start them at an early age. However, this doesn't mean they have to be forced to workout.

I will give you an example of what I mean.

A long-time client of mine has two daughters. Her demanding job requires her to work at all times of the day, giving her very little time to dedicate to her training. Yet, she has been motivated from the beginning to make sure she finds that time for her health.

Her daughters come along with her and seep many unforeseen benefits I will address. As a gym owner, I am perfectly okay with this, although many gyms would frown upon it. I see it as an opportunity to watch their mom excel in something far better than her daily work while pushing and getting a sense of accomplishment. Both are amazing qualities to pass onto your kids, so it makes it easy to see why both her and I want her kids there.

Flash forward 6 years, and her kids now workout religiously and come to the gym to workout! They were around her mom at an early age, watching and learning what it meant to work hard and be healthy. This, of course, has a trickling effect on kids, especially when they are your own! Everyone wants to be like mom and dad! So you set a great example from your own lifestyle and choices. If you have a poor mindset and relationship with fitness, then studies have shown that effect can be passed down to your children.

Not only does bringing the kids to the gym help them grow up understanding the importance of training, but it also helps my client stick to her schedule. If she wasn't able to bring her kids, more than likely, she wouldn't be able to stick to a gym regimen so tightly. Having them there is her only way of training, so why should I be the one to tell someone they can't? Isn't my main purpose of helping others achieve their fitness goals?

So while many of you might think that the gym is "me time," I ask that you think back a second to when you first joined.

Were you intimidated? Scared? Worried about how others looked at you while working out? Do you want the same for your children?

Not every trip should include them, and that they need to be stuck like glue to mom and dad during workouts. The simple fact of looking for a gym that maybe offers kids programs, fun and creative ways to workout, and/or the space needed to allow such things. They are out there, and it's time we take a step towards working our youth in that direction. Weight training has its place in their lives, regardless of what others say. There has never been documented research that relates physical activity dangerous to kids when monitored and taught correctly.

That is why I can provide a perfect example of having a 2-year-old. Have I forced him to workout? Of course not. Have I taught him much of anything yet? Not before he can say the alphabet.

But what you see here is his sole desire to "be like daddy."

This was not forced, planned, or expected. For his first two years of his life, he has watched me embrace the love for fitness when working out in the garage. Noah simply finds love in wanting to do the same things I do.

So, next time you gripe about working out and training, make sure your children are not around. They follow and learn from your daily actions. I constantly showcase my love for the gym, passing down to my son at an early age.

This is what we need in our country. This is why finding a gym that suits this lifestyle is imperative.

I would rather my children be in a gym that offers classes, structure, and a fun environment for them to learn and grow how fitness should be (like Over-Achieve Fitness). Rather than the possibility of them getting hooked into the "dark sides" of a more bodybuilder type gym that focuses on steroid use and the negative aspects of the industry.

Now let's take a look at some research to back up my suggestions.

Growth Plate Injuries and Brain Development

Myer and Avery Faigenbaum, Ed.D., C.S.C.S., professor of health and exercise science at the College of New Jersey, are two of the foremost researchers in adolescent fitness and strength training. Both say there are almost zero downsides to strength training for children, as long as they're doing a good program and under proper instruction. What's more, both argue teaching our kids to squat and press early in life is one of the best things we can do for them.

"Strength training broadly defines the method of conditioning that makes muscles stronger," Faigenbaum explains. According to a meta-analysis in Current Sports Medicine Reports, it will even help kids stay injury-free as they prepare and train for their sport.

So, there is no reason for any parent to be concerned about growth plates, bones, and injuries when lifting. There has been no conclusive evidence that puts truth to the alleged thoughts, so this common myth can surely die off.

When kids run and jump and play, they land and hit the ground with an impulse load of 2–10 times their body weight going through their bones and joints, Myer says. That means a healthy 10-year-old boy can be looking at near one thousand pounds on his joints—which is way more than anyone suggesting he squat. It is pretty safe to say that he is at greater risk of injuring himself with the lack of body control and sense the training would provide when he is just out playing with friends daily.

Brainpower and Function

A consensus statement that includes a University of Exeter researcher says exercise boosts kids' and young people's brainpower and academic prowess. Resistance training can improve a young athlete's potential by preparing him to learn complex movements, master sports tactics, and step up to the demands of training and competition, according to a 2016 study analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Also, a 2017 study in Translational Pediatrics found in addition to reduced injury risk and increased bone strength, resistance training helped improve self-esteem in children and adolescents. Nothing is more important these days than having your children grow up with self-esteem and feelings of joy and happiness from something that challenges them physically and mentally.

If you want my concluding advice, it would be to find a gym with space, a kids program, and trainers with the ability and personality that perfectly suits kids and find fun and creative ways to work out that are safer, yet rewarding.

Stop worry so much about the age they need to start. My 2-year-old has been with me in the gym at least once a week playing with things and moving my medicine balls around from corner to corner.

Working out? You bet it is! Every second your kid sees you in action, they are analyzing and taking notes. There is a reason he is coming into the garage with daddy.

He wants to. He isn't forced. You are in control of that. So take control and be the role model you need for your children and implement early and often.

Sources:

Faigenbaum AD, Lloyd RS, MacDonald J, Myer GD. Citius, Altius, Fortius: beneficial effects of resistance training for young athletes: Narrative review. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Jan;50(1):3-7. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-094621. Epub 2015 Jun 18. P.M.I.D.: 26089321

Myers AM, Beam NW, Fakhoury JD. Resistance training for children and adolescents. Transl Pediatr. 2017 Jul;6(3):137-143. doi: 10.21037/tp.2017.04.01. PMID: 28795003; PMCID: PMC5532191.

Myers AM, Beam NW, Fakhoury JD. Resistance training for children and adolescents. Transl Pediatr. 2017 Jul;6(3):137-143. doi: 10.21037/tp.2017.04.01. PMID: 28795003; PMCID: PMC5532191.

Read More


Topics: WORKOUT