A Q & A with Alek Groopman, Youth Fitness Coordinator
Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
1.) Why is it so important for children to stay active and what are the advantages gained from exercising?
So many studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between exercise and overall physical health regardless of age, as well as a profound effect on one’s emotional well-being. At this age it’s so important to create healthy habits that will lead to life-long wellness. Additionally, children who exercise are calmer throughout the rest of their day. Exercise provides children a sense of accomplishment. If a child is struggling in school or elsewhere, having an outlet via exercise can provide a huge benefit.
2.) What are parents’ main concerns about their kids becoming involved in fitness training, like lifting too much weight, stunting their growth, etc.?
The two most common misconceptions there are about kids becoming involved in a fitness regimen, and especially resistance training, are that it can stunt their growth and that they shouldn’t do any lifting until they are 12. The truth is resistance training actually helps with development when it’s properly done. Under the proper supervision of one of the J’s certified personal trainers, we make appropriate modifications in children’s programs and teach kids how to be safe in the gym and have fun.
3.) Not all children take to participating in organized sports and team activities, what else can they do to stay active and healthy?
Not everyone takes to playing sports, true, but everyone benefits from moving around and exercising. This is why the J offers a broad range of fitness classes for youth and teens and we are always trying to expand our offerings. Outside of the gym itself kids can be encouraged to play around outside, go to the pool and swim, or just walk around the neighborhood with friends. Even when children are resistant to doing some of these activities, things like Wii Fit or Pokemon GO can be attractive alternatives as something is better than nothing.
4.) What is the J Fitness team’s philosophy towards motivating kids to work out and about youth fitness as a whole?
As JCC Fitness Director Raychel Setless always says about youth fitness, ‘The goal with this age group is to enjoy fitness and get this group to create healthy habits.” I wholeheartedly support this notion. The most important thing for me to do as a trainer working with kids is to get them to have fun and make the fact that they are working and sweating a ‘happy accident.’ If the kids are having fun they’ll keep coming back. They’ll be motivated to try new things in fitness they find enjoyable – exercises they may not have found enjoyable before.
5.) How can parents and fitness instructors work together to educate children and teens about the benefits of fitness?