Would You Let Your Child Become a Meathead?

by Annie on July 23, 2011 · 1 comment

in Exercise & Injuries

In this week’s issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek there is an interesting article on child bodybuilding.

According to the article, "youth memberships have become one of the fastest growing areas for the fitness club industry… Over the past five years pre-adolescent and teen memberships have increased by 2.9% annually and the 6 to 11 age category has almost doubled since 2005. ”

I remember having a hard time trying to get my 14 year old sister as a guest into my gym several years ago because she was too young. Just how young is too young to start a rigorous body building routine? A lot of the athletes in the Olympics start training before they even enter kindergarten. So why should child body building be view differently than any other sport?

In the same article, it mentions that “47% of weight training related injuries occurred in people ages 13 – 24. Subjects 12 and younger also suffer from the highest number of lacerations and fractures and were more likely to have a piece of equipment fall on them.”

I am pretty sure that my baby, Hazelnut, will start exercising with mommy well before she enters elementary school. Even now she is on her play mat kicking and waving her hands while she watches me exercise to workout DVDs. However, I would not expose her to gym equipment designed for adults. It’s one thing for her to lug around a 3 pound dumbbell but doing a 240 pound dead lift at 12 years old sounds too dangerous to me even with a coach standing nearby, proper training, and precautions taken (a boy did this during the 2009 Iron Boy Powerlifting competition). Neither can I envision myself as the type of parent screaming at my kids on the sideline while they are participate in team sports.

I see parents too gung ho about their children in sport competitions all the time. They end up pushing their children too hard to excel. Can you imagine having bad knees as a teenager because you injure them as a child sport extraordinaire? Actually I’ve known a few adults that have long-term problems with their knees or back from playing sports during their childhood.

If Hazelnut wants to play sports, I would sign her up for it. But I would not push her. And neither would I feel sad when she outgrows it. I want her to have a lifelong love of physical activity whether it is through exercise at home or organized team sports. But I don’t want her to wear her body out before she lived even a quarter of her life.

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mizunogirl August 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

We have a lot of young athletes who work out in our gym, but admittedly, the majority of them work out with a trainer either in groups or singly. Sometimes I see them with their parents. They also teach an actual exercise class once a week for 6-12 yr olds called Lil’ Ninjas, and do kid Zumba and the WII fit in the child care area. I myself was a serious swimmer as a kid, and did the two a day practice thing each summer etc. I really think there’s a fine line of encouraging exercise and fun, and making it not at all fun for children.
I think most olympic gymnasts end up with some arthritic changes early on, and then it’s so hard to tell, did those kids push themselves, or did their parents push them? Some children really do have extraordinary focus, and some realize early on that if they have a certain talent it may help them leave some unpleasant situations….I recently read this book
http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-St-Anthony-Basketballs-Improbable/dp/1592401023 which really highlighted for some children the freedom that a basketball scholarship represents….

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