By Brett Klika
CEO SPIDERfit Kids
It’s a problem we never thought we’d have - motivating kids to be active.
While many adults remember the constant physical activity of their childhood years, today’s youngsters face a whole new reality. The majority of children under the age of 18 participate in far less than the recommended 60 minutes a day of rigorous physical activity.
Highly active outdoor play has been replaced with highly inactive indoor interaction with technology. Video games, computers, and television now occupy much of our youngsters’ time and the result is nearly 1/3 of our country’s kids becoming overweight or obese.
Plain and simple; we need to get kids excited to move again.
The virtual, easily accessible world of technology with stunningly realistic fantastical simulations is hard to beat from an entertainment standpoint.
The good news is that children actually WANT to be active. When we create the right environment with fun, engaging options for exercise, even overweight, unfit, or couch-bound children can not only participate, but have fun doing it!
In my over 20 years of work with children age 4 and up, I’ve discovered some secrets and special tools that aid in creating unique, all-inclusive, dynamic, and engaging exercise options that get children excited to exercise.
Below I’d like to share 3 secrets and one of the most fun and effective tools I have come across in recent years that aid in motiving and inspiring children to a life of health, fitness, and wellness.
Secret 1: Exploration is key!
The more rules, directions, and criteria games and drills have, the more exclusionary they become. Games, drills, and equipment for children should allow for them to interact and play while they discover things for themselves.
Equipment or environments that allow children to climb, crawl, hang, balance, or experiment with other movement patterns gives them a sense of exercise autonomy and increases their interest, motivation, and excitement for the activity.
Instructors should act as guides for safety, success, and a small degree of direction. While children are exploring freely, they are developing extremely important perceptual motor skills!
Secret 2: Children love a challenge!
Much like adults, children thrive on a feeling of accomplishment. They are constantly learning, correcting, and perfecting movement. Exercise options that provide an appropriate and attainable strength, cardiovascular, and balance challenge continually engage youngsters while they participate. Additionally, these activities help develop essential, life-long fitness skills.
Secret 3: Exercise needs to LOOK like fun! (And aid in developing important physical skills)!
Vibrant colors, unique shapes or designs, and other design factors make equipment and other exercise options attractive to kids. Children will gravitate to these with little or no encouragement. This is an extremely important component of creating an exploratory exercise environment that kids enjoy.
When kids willingly seek out options for exercise, the interaction created with equipment or the environment should function to develop strength, balance, body and spatial awareness, social cooperation, and other key components of fitness.
These three simple secrets (the list could go on), can help get your children excited about physical activity and exercise, planting the seed for a lifetime of physical activity and health.
Parents, teachers, and many fitness professionals however may not have the space, financial resources, or just plain know-how to create a fun and effective physical activity environment with multiple exercise options.
One particular space efficient, multipurpose, and inexpensive tool I’ve discovered that meets all 3 (and more) criteria for success with encouraging and motivating children to exercise is the BOSU® Sport.
The original BOSU® Balance Trainer is essentially an exercise ball cut in half. A rigid platform on the bottom sites easily on any floor surface, and the half ball or dome is soft and bouncy, creating fun stability challenges. The BOSU® Sport is smaller than the original Balance Trainer so it is ideally sized for children.
Just by placing the BOSU® Sport dome-side-up on the ground, children are attracted to the vibrant color and unique shape. Immediately, they begin standing, crouching, sitting and exploring other ways they can move on the reactive surface of the dome.
This dome surface provides unique balance and stability challenges while children play and explore.
With a little direction, this balance, strength, and fitness challenge can be increased or decreased as children are prompted to do different movements while standing on one or two legs with their eyes open or closed.
Turning the BOSU® Sport over so the platform side is up allows for upper body balance, strength, and core challenges with variations of push-ups and lifting it off the ground in various patterns.
Pretty soon, kids are sweating and smiling while developing important skills like balance, proprioception, strength, and aerobic fitness. The best part is that they think they are playing!
If you are looking for a sure-fire way to get children excited about exercise and fitness, remember to let them play and explore, provide them a challenge, and provide appealing exercise options that aid in developing lifelong physical skills.
The BOSU® Sport is one of the many all-encompassing, effective tools that not only helps children become more fit, it creates a fun experience while they’re doing it!
Let’s get kids moving!
BOSU Sport-Kids DVD creator Brett Klika is an award winning personal training, author and and CEO of SPIDERfit Kids and spiderfitkids.com. For over 20 years, Brett has worked to provide resources and training for kids, parents, coaches, teachers and fellow fitness professionals to improve their health and live extraordinary lives.