Exercise for Kids

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Exercise classes for overweight girls

April 2008

I am looking for exercise classes in the Berkeley/Oakland area for overweight girls (ages 7-10) who are less flexible. I'd appreciate any advice.

Check out Junior Jazzercise! The classes get kids moving, are fun and affordable. I go to the adult classes at El Cerrito studio, but there are Jazzercise franchises all over so check their website (www.jazzercise.com) for Junior classes nearest you. jody

Exercise for Non-Athletic 8 Year Old

Oct 2007

My son is 8 years old and not into sports. I don't need him to be athletic or into sports but I am concerned he is not getting enough exercise. We tried soccer - he got bored - and karate - he got tired of it. Does anyone have any recommendations for sports groups or clubs for kids who aren't into organized sports? Is there a forgiving little league group out there? Or wrestling for kids? Thanks. anon

Oh! Oh! I know a great Little League organization. You don't say where you live; it's in Albany. My son, who despises soccer (too rough and tumble) karate (too formalized, too much actual TOUCHING) and other sports, adores baseball now. The first years are very gentle -- the coaches pitch, it's all about positive re-enforcement, sportsmanship, skill-building, team spirit, etc. Nobody strikes out, they just get a lot of tries to hit. The parents are supportive and not pushy. As the kids develop skills, they are given more responsbility; they can strike out, the kids pitch (until the fourth ball is thrown, then the coach comes in, so no walks), etc. And then finally they play by ''normal'' rules, but by that time much of the anxiety has been disspelled and skills are in place. It is a great organization, I endorse it strongly. little league mom

Have you tried: gymnastics (there are non-competetive boys' teams at Head Over Heels in Emeryville); circus (who can resist the trapeze?!); hip-hop dance (again, there are lots of boys in the classes at New Style Motherlode on College Ave in Rockridge); family hikes on the weekend? darcy

Why not gymnastics? My 7-yr old and 4-yr old both love it -- they don't do organized sports (yet), either. They go to El Cerrito Gymnastics, at the Community Center on Moeser in El Cerrito. There are a variety of times and days, mostly Mon, Wed, & Thurs, and the instructor, Rory, is great. Christine

You may want to try fencing. My 11yo son has been fencing at the Sport Fencing Center for over two years and I've seen a great change in his confidence and sociability. And he definitely gets a workout. While fencing can certainly get competitive, this center's main focus is on a love of the sport and the personal challenge. Kids compete around the Bay if they choose to, but it's not a pressured thing. And the owners/coaches are great at keeping it fun but also teaching good sportsmanship and courtesy. Check out http://sportfencingcenter.com/. And just keep trying and searching. There are so many choices when it comes to being active. Don't give up! ruth

It sounds like your son may be non-athletic or perhaps not very much into team or contact sports. I think alot of people think their children, boys in particular, need to participate on sports teams. But, exercise does not mean only team sports. Why not try a solo sport like walking or running, or try hiking. Lake Merrit Joggers and Striders has runs for children. There are also some great activities to do while hiking, like letterboxing, a treasure-hunt style activity. In this way, exercise can be disguised as a game. exercise enthusiast

Exercise for overweight 6 year old

Feb 2004

I would like ideas on how to increase the physical activity level for my oldest child who is just 6 yrs old. She is about 15 pounds overweight and it is all on her tummy. Clothes that fit her at the waist are a foot too long. To me she is perfect but I realize that societal pressures aside, there are real health threats that she will face if her weight continues to increase at this rate. I need more concret guidance than her doctor is providing. I am well versed in which foods to serve. I serve healthy foods but she eats HUGE portions of them. Exept for refusing to serve her seconds or snacks(which I would hate to do), I am hoping to have her burn more calories. Has anyone had luck with organized sports, if so where, when, how? Are there aerobics or gym classes for kids a after school? exercise videos?? A fun indoor exercise activity? Soccer? Running club? Reward charts for eating less? I am serious - anything! It is hard for me to take her on walks because I have two younger ones who HATE the stroller but cant really keep up at at pace that will break a sweat. Thanks for your input. mom of an overweight kid

Have you ever thought of martial arts for weight management? I teach children and we spend lots of class time running, doing push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, etc. The enviornment is fun, always changing and the focus is on fitness, safety and self defense. FYI, I have one adult who lost 30 lbs in 6 months! Best of luck. terri

Best indoor exercise I've found for my boys so far is gymnastics at Head Over Heels in Emeryville. Ice skating at the Oakland Ice Arena is another winner. Outdoors, the local pool and soccer games seem to be the best energy-burners. Have fun with it and good luck. Sara

When my then 7 year old son was getting pretty chunky our pediatrician said cut back on electronics...so we did. Naturally our son started running around a LOT more, cause that's what kids do. So, if that is an issue for your daughter, that may be one easy (maybe not so easy) thing to do. There are gymnastics classes around...Windmill Gymnastics in Richmond, Head Over Heels in I think Berkeley or Emeryville. Dance classes, martial art classes, swimming....lots of things kids can do.

My son, now 13, fences now and really loves it and it's hard work and a lot of exercise. Good luck to you. been there

There are nice gymnastics classes at Albany Village, and I think that there are also kids' programs at the YMCA. My daughter enjoyed ballet classes in the Julia Morgan Center in Berkeley. A few tips: For snacks, offer fruit, carrot sticks, organic cheerios, and the like--forget anything with partially hydrogenated oils in it. You might want to involve her in the process, so that she too gets used to reading food labels before deciding what to buy. Gradually wean your daughter away from huge portions. (Or make the huge portions things that are good for her, like fruit salad.) If your daughter is used to drinking sodas, such as Coke or Pepsi, or even fruit juice, now's a! good time to cut them out entirely. Instead, offer one percent milk or water. Best of luck--your daughter will have a happier life because of what you're doing. anon

You don't say where you live, or your child's grade, but I can recommend Albany-Berkeley Girls Softball League for a nice spring-time exercise opportunity. It starts at first grade, on Saturdays. In second grade and up, it's two afternoons plus Saturday, a couple of hours each time. The first graders (''micro'' league) assume no athletic experience at all. They really teach basic skills, and the fun of team play. Check out http://www.abgsl.org/

Also-Jim Beatty has some great after-school movement classes at his ''Ha Ha This-a-way'' program, on Eighth St. in Berkeley. Mostly, find out what she'd like to do/try. Ballet, tap-dance, gymnastics, martial arts, creative movement/clowning,... Does her school offer anything after school? Your community center?

Other ideas: will she swim? ride a bike? jumprope? play ball games of any kind with your younger ones? play on the jungle- gym at a nearby playground?

I'd definitely stay away from star charts, etc. I think you're on the right track getting her to exercise more at something she enjoys, rather than focussing on eating less food. You might try serving fancy-looking portions on small plates, and generally using smaller utensils and portions (she can always have seconds, but start everyone with smaller portions). I'd resist the urge to keep her totally away from desserts, etc - in moderation, with lower calorie healthy foods, they can be part of a goood diet.

Keep letting her know how beautiful she is, while providing healthy foods (no ''diet'' foods, please!) and opportunities for fun exercise. enjoy life

My advice would be not to worry about it too much. Obesity has been linked to health problems (although more so in adults,) but if your daughter eats a healthy diet, there is a good chance she is simply going through a plumper phase, and she'll soon shoot up in height. My child has yo-yoed between being off the charts for weight and even being underweight, but has always evened out in the end. Those charts are based on averages for ages, and are therefore supposed to be a long-term indicator of problems, although often a fairly inaccurrate one.

If you are concerned because your daughter seems too sedentary, I would encourage you to take her lead and see what kind of activity she likes, but keep it v! ery low pressure. Help her develop confidence in what she likes to do (soccer, roller skating, gymnastics, etc.) but keep the emphasis on fun, not exercise. I would be very leery of restricting food consumption or rewarding abstinence from food. You want her to understand when she is hungry and stop eating when she is full, and frankly, she is the only one who can know how much food her body needs at any given time. Good luck! good eater

When my daughter was seven and overweight, she lost weight with the following schedule: soccer in Albany Berkeley Soccer club ( http://www.abscsoccer.com/) - two practices a week and one game every Saturday, once a week ice skating class at the Berkeley ice skating rink (http://www.berkeleyiceland.com/), and once a week tennis class. She found buddies to skate with, and on Sundays, she would go to the ice skating rink. Tikva