As a personal trainer, you have the expertise and the chance to change lives by helping to reduce the childhood obesity rate. Too many children suffer the consequences of being overweight, from being teased in school to being less physically fit. It doesn’t have to be this way. If several trainers in each community would give just one day each week to this cause, it could have a significant impact on this generation and the children in their own futures.
In this article, you’ll learn about some of the facts of childhood obesity and why you might want to take action, how to organize fitness events, work with parents, and motivate kids to sign up for fitness programs. This kind of involvement will always come full circle as you become better known in the community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 2% of all high schools “required daily PE or its equivalent for students in all grades…for the entire year.” With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that there is an obesity epidemic in this country. Also, over half of these schools made fried foods available as a choice for the school lunch program. With the lack of exercise that children are receiving, combined with unhealthy food choices due to peer pressure or economic factors, kids just don’t have a fighting chance.
What was your reason for becoming a personal trainer? Do you have a love of fitness? Did you feel that it would be fun and rewarding? Are you trying to make a difference in people’s lives? What if you now have the opportunity to take your knowledge and donate a few hours each week toward helping those who need it the most: children who are 20 to 200 pounds overweight, as early as 8 years old. Kids need role models and information mixed up with enough imagination to hold their interest; you can show them the way. Your guidance can play a vital part in reversing this heartbreaking epidemic.
A good way to get started is by holding an event at a local school. If you’re worried about the logistics, then don’t be. Any school would be thrilled to help you organize an event that promoted children’s health, and parents will be happy to jump in as well.
When it comes to planning activities, make sure that they are geared towards children. “Games” are fun, whereas “exercise programs” will make any kid want to run the other direction. You could design a simple obstacle course or hold track and field events, like the 100-meter dash. Be sure to include events for physically challenged kids as well. Boot camps for kids not only sound exciting but also promote healthy competition as well as group involvement.
Working with Parents
Whether you’ve never worked with children before or have years of experience, you’ll have to sell yourself and your qualifications to their parents. Make some postcards or flyers spelling out your credentials, certifications, continuing education requirements and experience. Parents are the key to your success and if they believe you are sincere and committed, they will take your cause “to the mattresses.”
Also, be sure to let them know that you are trained in CPR and first aid and are insurable (the school or PTA or event organizer may want to take out insurance, which is a win-win for you both). Anything that you can do to prove to parents that you’re qualified, dependable, and trustworthy will help to get them on your side.
More than a One-Time Event
Holding special fitness events for children is a great thing on its own, but you should strive to get kids signed up for ongoing classes. In fact, those classes could be held by you! Not only will you benefit financially, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re getting kids to lead healthier lifestyles.
You can make a huge difference in children’s lives by using your knowledge and skills to help them make lifestyle changes. Tell others about your plans, and you’ll be surprised to see how many people will be supportive and help to make your idea a reality.
About the Author
Anthony Jefferies is fitness instructor who also works with parents’ groups and contributes content for playground equipment companies providing imaginative structures for kids, so they can spend more time outdoors in active play.*Image: Go Play, Get Fit Youth Day by Port of San Diego/flickr*