Gyms For Kids Promote Fitness

Gyms are typical places to see people fighting obesity. Now more gyms cater to children’s fitness and parents in Central Ohio are catching onto this trend.

At the Little Gym of Dublin, 7 kids ages 4 to 6 and two instrustors run around on mats, climb through obstacle courses and work on tumbling while parents watch through large viewing windows. The children dance to the loud music in between exercises. At gyms like this, kids can kick, tumble, run and learn sports.

Gym programs for children are nothing new to the fitness field, but with childhood obesity rates rising more parents are use children’s gyms as a way to introduce fitness and prevent obesity at an earlier age.

Yvonne Tate says she brings her 4 year old daughter to the Little Gym so her child can get a realistic idea about exercise

“…You need to watch your body and make sure you’re getting nutrition and that you stay healthy so you can do the fun things. And exercise doesn’t have to be boring, it can be fun and you can learn a lot.”

Little Gym of Dublin owner Jeannete Donohue says the key to using gyms to promote fitness and prevent obesity in kids is making activity fun says younger kids. Donohue says kids can develop healthy habits in gyms that are key in the preventing obesity later in life.

“Nowadays with a lot of schools taking out physical education, we just want the kids to be active…and if we let them succeed and have fun at a young age, they will carry those healthy habits with them the older they get,” said Donohue.

But Dr. Robert Murray, Director for the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Columbus Children’s Hospital says kids gyms are unnecessary to keep young children fit. He suggests parents of younger children skip the gyms and just get kids outdoors and off the couch.

“Little kids are programmed to be active…they’re going to burn off a lot of calories just running around so I don’t think that that’s necessary… Those gyms may have an effect [in] the older child… they already have an established habit of sedentary behavior and what you need to find for them is other things that entice them away from sitting and doing nothing.”

For Kristy Turner, gyms for younger children are still helpful for parents like her who not only want to get their kids active but also keep them in a safe.

“With society, you don’t want to let the kids run around and play like we did when we were small…I feel better having her in structured activities where I can keep an eye on her and I know that they’re not going to get into any trouble.”

Back in the gym, that approach is working with 4 year old Gracie who is busy having fun, perhaps not realizing that she’s also getting exercise.

According to a national industry group, children ages 6 to 17 make up 11% of health club memberships.