With so many technological distractions these days, sometimes children need a little encouragement to get off the couch and be active. And parents should provide that encouragement, because developing a healthy, active lifestyle early on can lead to a lifetime of good health.
Parents are busier than ever before today, so they may need a little help encouraging activity. Finding a good fitness center that works with children is a smart option. When the kids attend regular fitness sessions with peers, they’ll find opportunities for exercise ranging from tumbling, gymnastics, and cheerleading to parkour and pre-school fitness.
A good health center will also help your child explore a variety of equipment and exercise regimens, learning how to take care of their bodies in safe and comfortable environments and under the watchful eye of trainers experienced in working with children. Support and camaraderie from coaches and peers at the health center can also be a big plus. Learning how important it is to be active, to manage nutrition and the best ways to be physically and mentally fit will help your child grow into a successful adult.
Here are some criteria to consider if you think your child could benefit from attending a fitness center:
Coaches and Trainers
Coaches and trainers will be a child’s mentor. And fitness center staff will ultimately affect how enthusiastic your child is about working out.
Make spontaneous visits to fitness centers you are considering to observe staff and available activities at different times of day. Centers will prefer appointments, but any that does not allow unplanned visits should not be considered. Family should be allowed to visit, watch sessions and get a general idea of the center’s operations.
Is the fitness center’s equipment age-appropriate?
While there may be private and group training, what is the ratio of staff to child?
Is the fitness center generalized or do they lean toward specific categories of training?
Does equipment look well cared for?
Are areas clean and maintained?
Are mats and padding frayed or flat and unsafe?
Are bathrooms clean and well lit?
Only parental vigilance can ensure a child walks into a safe and healthy fitness environment.
Classes and Programs
One has to determine what they want their child to get out of the experience in order to choose an appropriate fitness center. Do you want the child to develop a love for gymnastics or cheerleading? Has the child shown an interest in their dad’s weight machine? Do you want your child to explore and find their own interests?
Also, get an idea of how large sessions tend to be. Smaller classes mean more focus on individual students and less stress on trainers. Find out if classes are age appropriate. There are actually teaching guidelines and ratios set forth by USA Gymnastics. Ask if the fitness center follows them.
The best fitness centers – adult or child – offer trial classes or periods. This will be an ideal way to find the right spot for your kids. More importantly, it will be a great way to see if your child is mentally ready. Children’s interests are like the wind, and you want to know which way it blows before making a major investment.
Other factors include location, costs, if the fitness center has associations with local schools and, finally, your instincts. You know your child and, whether it’s through referral or research, only you can find the best fit.