It’s that time of year where everyone starts crowding into local gyms, armed with good intentions and healthful resolutions.

This is a great time for you to start teaching your kids about setting healthy goals and mapping out plans for success. You can even take them to the gym with you.

Many fitness centers will allow your kids to work out with you starting as young as 10 years old. The Greenville County YMCA requires children to attend orientation sessions first, and your children have to stay with you. You’ll have to decide whether they’re mature enough to join you and all the other grown-ups.

Some people don’t like to wear a lot of clothes when they work out, so you many want to consider your gym’s cover-up policy. Also, gyms are kid-free sanctuaries for some parents. Make sure your children are respectful of the fact that this is an adult zone, not a playground.

What can kids do in a fitness center?

You want to make sure that your children are getting the same mix of fitness that you strive for — a mix of cardio and strength training.


My kids love walking on a treadmill. You have to be careful that they don’t overdo it, and make sure they wear the stop key so that the machine will automatically stop if needed. They can also use the stair climbers and stationary bikes, or run a lap.

Strength training

Don’t worry, your 10-year old isn’t going to end up looking like John Cena. Kids won’t bulk up until well into puberty, but they will get stronger. The American Academy of Pediatrics includes strength training among its suggested exercises for kids — but as with anything, you need to teach them the safe way to do it. This is where that fitness center orientation comes into play. Have a certified trainer show you and your children how to properly do a few exercises with free weights and use weight machines, and then continue to monitor your children to make sure they keep doing the exercises correctly.


Make sure your kids are warming up prior to exercising, and stretching when they’re done. Stretching the muscles that you’ve worked will help muscles recover more quickly and reduce the build-up of lactic acid — the source of post-workout muscle soreness. Too much pain after the workout, and your child may decide that exercise isn’t for them.

As with any other sport or exercise, don’t push your kids into doing a gym workout. However, if you have a child who isn’t interested in sports, weight lifting and stair-climbing are great alternatives to playing soccer or baseball. It’s non-competitive, they can go at their own pace, and it’s something they can continue doing for the rest of their life.

Talk to Jenna

Jenna Kochenauer is a news anchor on WORD 106.3 FM radio. Follow her @JennaOnTheAir. Read her blog at

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