By Alika Antone
As the father of four young kids, a physical therapist, and a gym owner, our children get regular gym time. And strength training is part of that. I am often asked the question “When Should Kids Start Strength Training?”
Now a lot of people hear “strength training” and automatically get visions of musclebound folks lifting heavy weights. While lifting weights can be incredibly beneficial, there are lots of ways to gain strength without weights, too.
My kiddos don’t lift heavy weights (yet) — mostly for safety reasons as they are still learning coordination and control of basic functional movements. We enjoy working on balance, coordination, footwork, agility, and power. One of our favorite exercises is sled pushing. It is hard work and challenges power and endurance. The best thing about the sled is that it is not technical at all. It is safe, effective, and the kids love it.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s position is that it is “imperative to determine safe, effective, and enjoyable practices by which resistance training can improve health, fitness, and sports performance of younger populations.”
If kids are ready for resistance training, a trained coach can help them build stamina, strength, and cardiovascular endurance — with safety at the forefront. Kids who train with or without weights may see improvements in sports and it may even help them avoid sports-related injuries. Not to mention, it is building a healthy foundation for their futures.
When I hit the gym with my kids, my main focus (beyond safety) is making sure they are having fun, working hard, and learning.
If they love something (like exercise) chances are they will get better at it. Focus on getting your kids to love the gym and what it has to offer to their body, mind, and spirit. Making sure their experiences now are safe, effective, and fun will lead to a continued love of moving their bodies for life!
"A2 has been a game changer for me. I’ve had back problems my entire life from high impact sports and now sitting at a desk for work. Dr. Antone’s wellness program has nearly eliminated my stiffness and soreness that use to bother me throughout the day. I’d highly recommend him and his team for turning your health around. Thank you A2!!"
"Last Sunday I played full court basketball for the first time in 15 years. I will qualify the contest by saying it happened on a court just out of the back door of an elder care center. The teams consisted of a 7 year old, an d8 year old, a young woman in flip-flops (I played in sandals), a woman who proudly stated she was 55 years old (I retorted with my age of 65), and a couple of other young guys that really played well. I ran the court, I played defense, blocked shots, made shots (missed a lot), got lots of rebounds, and talked a lot of smack while playing with a group of people a lot younger than me. I even made a behind the back-twisting fall-away shot, then fell and tumbled on the court. I jumped up and continued to play, and we played for about 45 minutes.
I attribute my ability to play this game that I love so much again to the excellent training receive from Kristy who is a trainer at A2 Physical Therapy. I have worked out and trained since I was very young. I played high school basketball, baseball, and I ran track. I spent 20 years in the Army with all the training requirements associated with that occupation. I played on community and city leagues, and I have trained with weights for many years. The training program Kristy has devised for me at A2 is rigorous, thorough, diverse, fun, challenging, and focused. She prepares workout plans that are age and fitness level appropriate. My work out now is so much different then it was when I first started. She both trains me individually and as a couple. I run, jump, stretch, lift, balance, squat, push, pull, and every other movement you can imagine. I look forward to going to my workout every time. Kristy is completely in charge of every workout. I am retired, and my training at A2 allows me to fill the need to accomplish something positive every day I work out. I am doing physical activity with ease that I would not have thought I would be able be able to accomplish at the age of 65 such as hiking on Mt Rainer and running 4 days per week. Kristy and A2 have really changed my life…"
"The therapy did exactly as I had hoped, it helped alleviate my shoulder pain, and stopped the numbness from creeping down my arm to my hand. The exercises I was shown had the added benefit of helping keep my neck and traps loose and not so tense all the time. A great experience that I would recommend to anyone needing physical therapy."
− C. Wesley