Recently, you might have seen internet chatter about a ten year old boy, CJ Senter who developed his own exercise videos. He is on a mission to encourage boys and girls his age to get off the couch and exercise.
I am quite impressed by CJ’s ambition! I reviewed CJ’s website and a sample video. In the short video, CJ is instructing other children in some basic bodyweight exercises and stretching. It was for the most part appropriate exercise for children. The video was professionally produced, and easy to follow.
That said, there are some potential pitfalls with CJ’s program.
Who am I to judge? Well, I played youth sports just like CJ does. I started working out with weights and other forms of exercise at about the same age. I played various team and individual sports throughout my life and continue to do so. I truly believe that my early exposure to strength training and athletic activities helped me perform at a higher level later on.
As an adult, I earned a bachelors and masters degree in Exercise physiology and Physical education. I worked as a professor of exercise physiology, teaching undergraduate courses and supervising internships. I have a third degree black belt in American kempo. I have taught martial arts for over ten years to children and adults alike. So, I guess you could say I’m a little into fitness!
When instructing children it is a great advantage to have an assistant instructor/student close in age to the enrolled students. This peer participation can be as simple as calling each student up to the front of the class to instruct one type of punch, kick, or block. It is a great confidence booster, and the kids love to watch and follow each other. Sometimes I have an older more advanced student between the ages of seven and ten assist in teaching classes of varying ages and of lower belt ranks.
Notice I said “ASSIST”. Continuing adult supervision and instruction is always critical. You need to ensure that the proper instruction, facts, form and techniques are provided.
Admittedly, CJ’s videos are not classes. Parents shouldn’t expect that level of instruction from a video. However the website does not state that the moves, techniques, and the like were overseen and deemed appropriate by an exercise physiologist. There is no indication that the activities are safe, fun and if performed properly, of benefit to kids taking part.
No question, we have to work hard to improve our children’s health. We need to reduce childhood obesity and type two diabetes plaguing our nation’s children because of inactivity and poor eating habits. Children can certainly be motivated in new and innovative ways by someone their age. However, there needs to be a professional, such as an exercise physiologist or physical educator, to implement programs that are fun, safe and effective.
I hope CJ teams up with an exercise physiologist to give his program a safe seal of approval. I know that would put me at greater ease and would help the parents who might purchase his DVDs as well.
What do yout think? Should children be instructing childen? What role do adults play in your children’s fitness routines?