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Kid workouts part of family fitness trend

January 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Many of us made resolutions to get in shape in the New Year. But if you've got kids, that can mean dragging them to a childcare room at the gym, or having to hire a sitter while you work out. But now, more gyms are converting those childcare rooms into mini-workout areas so children can work out, too. Imagine a babysitter that gets your child moving, running at the soccer field, or even rock climbing. It's all part of a growing trend.

"Families are looking for things for kids to do to develop themselves physically, as well as socially and emotionally," said Mollie Marcoux, the Chelsea Piers Field House general manager.

And that's why more and more gyms are turning old fashioned childcare rooms into fitness fun houses.

"Helping families move toward a physical lifestyle is so crucial, and particularly with all the video games that are out there and TV shows," said Marcoux.

Pediatricians say there's plenty of evidence that even a little activity can help put the brakes on obesity.

"If you can tip us back over the edge to where a child might be expending 150 calories in an activity, we will be preventing this obesity epidemic down the line," said Wendy Slusser of Mattel Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles.

Some critics caution parents about having toddlers work out, saying repetition could hurt their growing bodies. But proponents say these programs certainly aren't boot camp.

"All our programs - particularly for the younger kids - the focus is on fun," said Marcoux.

"They're learning spatial orientation; they're learning balance. These are things that are basically steps toward learning sports later in life," said Wendy Slusser, MD, MS.

But parents say they're learning a lot more than sports.

"For his self esteem, we've seen a big difference," said parent Gordon Ebanks.

The cost for the programs vary, and could be more expensive than the average daycare, but many are competitive with prices for sporting programs you'd enroll a child in for exercise.


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