Exercise programming for kids is not about losing weight, it is about building a stronger and healthier child. I have plenty of adult friends that did not play any sports as kids because their interests were music or art. Today, most of them train and exercise, but it is hard for them to prioritize exercise in their life because it was not a habit during their childhood. Just because your child has little interest in soccer, gymnastics, dance, or martial arts does not mean that they do not need physical exercise. Before moving onto the exercises I am presenting, I want to also say that exercise is only one means of avoiding childhood obesity. I am going to skip reciting the statistics on childhood obesity and diabetes in America. Exercise has far more use in a person’s life than keeping their weight down. Exercise is about building and maintaining a healthy body for the rest of your life. It is about improving a child’s health from the inside out- circulation, mental focus, confidence and more. I want to give children the correct movement habits so they have confidence to also become active in any sport at any time in their life.
I started ballet and martial arts at a very young age. Because I was so dedicated to my individual sport I never played team sports as a teenager because I didn’t have the time. But because I was involved in an exercise routine along with my martial arts and ballet, I was able to easily pick up volleyball, softball and wakeboarding as an adult. It was the combination of martial arts and exercise that gave me the ability to have a solid foundation so that I had the strength and conditioning to learn new things as an adult without getting hurt. On the flip side, kids that are involved in a sports, should be doing strength and conditioning separately. By incorporating fundamental strength movements in their weekly routine, that they will need for the rest of their life; you will improve their athletic skill sets and help them to avoid injuries.
Here are three exercises that I believe are critical to developing overall strength and appropriate for kids over 6 years old. They use suspension straps. The first exercise is a bridge in a plank. The second is a squat and the third is a body weight row.