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April 7, 2014 by Uncategorized

Children & Fitness, an Inactivity Time-Bomb?!

Children’s fitness has never been more important, with “worryingly high” levels of childhood obesityin the UK, according to BUPA and BBC .

But the really key thing about keeping children and teenagers interested in their own health and fitness is avoiding the temptation to make it all about sport.  Not every child is ‘sporty’, but can enjoy getting fit in other ways.

Our goal should be to encourage and inspire children and teenagers to enjoy feeling fit and healthy – that will stand them in good stead for a lifetime, whereas a love of or flair for one particular sport can come and go.

The Fit Perfect Children’s Fitness Clubs are about exactly that – helping to foster an enjoyment of healthy living.

The first rule of fitness club is: FUN. Because we all know that that’s pretty much what makes children tick. And a healthy dose of competition helps keep them motivated, too.

Given that we’re facing an “inactivity time-bomb” according to the BBC, with half of seven-year-olds not getting enough exercise, it is really crucial that we help children realise that being fit and healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming, boring or expensive. And since parents are the ones who pay for these things they also love hearing that encouraging children to be fit and healthy is not about signing your children up to pricy enterprises like gyms, spas, sports or health clubs, either!

My Children’s Fitness Clubs focus on self improvement – within the range of each individual’s skills and ability – so there’s no nasty one-size-fits-all approach which can leave people feeling (children especially) inadequate.

And since even adults appreciate a bit of praise and encouragement, the Children’s Fitness Clubs include a mega dollop of that.

Twice a year in Winter and Summer I set eight ‘Winglet’ goals for each child that comes along, and there’s lots of acknowledgement for anyone that achieves those personal fitness goals – both small improvements and big gains get plenty of recognition!

Once the child has achieved each goal they earn a ‘Winglet’ point, and once they have achieved all eight ‘Winglets’ they are awarded a prize in a small, jolly and informal ceremony – with their parents present, for added kudos!

The prizes are small and sports related; a pair of funky sports socks, a drinking bottle, sports gloves, a cool hat or sporty hair ties… that sort of thing that children and teenagers love.  Acknowledging progress is the most important thing.

Once a year we also enter a charity fund raising event, this year its the Race For Life for Cancer Research, on Hampstead Heath, 11:00 on Saturday 5th July. Helping to raise funds for a good cause gives the children a tremendous boost and motivation to work towards the greater goal of helping others.photo (14)

Ladies and children why not join us? The more the merrier, to join Team Fit Perfect click herefor all the information you need.  Afterwards we all enjoy a shared picnic and a Team Fit Perfect award ceremony!

I don’t train children on a 1-2-1 basis (the minimum group session I run is with 2 children) because, in my opinion, children don’t respond well to being singled out for ‘special attention’… lots of studies – not to mention the infamous ‘Tiger Mum”  approach to parenting – have shown that ‘hot-house’ tutoring kids can have the reverse effect, and undermine a child’s confidence.

This was certainly true in the case of my daughter, Sophie, when it came to maths. She’s in the top stream in secondary school now, and that’s after we ceased her maths tutoring during her primary school years because she wasn’t progressing and dreaded every tutored lesson.

That’s a horrid experience for a child in any discipline, but feeling that way about health and fitness can set a child up for all sorts of long term health issues during adulthood – and we want to avoid that at all costs!

I also keep the cost low to minimise the barrier to entry (£5 per child per session). The costs are comparable with similar after-school clubs in North London, but not as expensive as swimming lessons (which I think are a potential life saver and ‘must-do’ for any child) or squad – which can cost up to £300 for an annual joining fee and a further £100 per term. That’s nearly £600 a year which can be prohibitive for lots of families, and that’s not accounting for the cost of specialist kit that children all too quickly grow out of.  Compared to rugby, tennis, cricket, football club fees etc, coming to Fit Perfect Children’s Fitness Clubs is WAY more affordable…and lots of fun!

Fit Perfect Children’s Fitness Clubs work well alongside a childs favourite sport – if they have one, and is especially useful ‘off-season’ to keep their fitness level up in readiness for the new sports season.  I design exercises that help build stamina, endurance, balance, co-ordination and confidence in their physical ability so children can enjoy and perform better in their favourite sports.

I also believe it is profoundly important to educate children to understand the impact of proper nutrition and healthy eating habits. Knowing how the body works and responds to good nutrition and how damaging bad nutritional choices are can really benefit children for the long-term, so during class I mention various nuggets of relevant info and quiz them as we go along. My intention is not to blind them with sports science, or confuse them with too much information, but to tease their curiosity, and put the context around the exercises which they perform and the benefits good nutrition will have on their overall wellbeing.
I’m still getting lots of press interest in my children’s fitness clubs after The Times TheTimes110214and Radio 4, The PM Show featured them recently – and, curiously, a Spanish online publication called El Confidencial interviewed me and published an article recently too! Click here if your Spanish is up to it.
So, what are you waiting for? Fit Perfect Children’s Fitness Clubs are here for your young fitness fan(s) to come aboard… call me, Hilary Burbidge on 07801 225 660 to book your child(ren) a place, we’re starting back after the Easter holidays on 26th April.  For full information about the Fit Perfect Children’s Fitness Clubs, where we meet and what we get up to, click here. See you soon!

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