Timeout New York Kids

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Out of the playground and into the gym

null In the fight against childhood obesity, the inevitable has happened: more than half a million kids today learn their exercise regimens from personal trainers, the Associated Press reports. Previously considered the luxury of wealthy adults or serious athletes, trainers are now instructing children as young as six. The numbers are based the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association's findings. The association reports that 824,000 children between the ages of six and 17 (about 13% of trainers' clientele) were paying for personalized training sessions in 2005. Athletics professionals are assisting kids who don't get sufficient exercise during school hours or those who need to otherwise spruce up their coordination or strength. ''I also just want to get him in the habit of making exercise part of daily routine,'' said Kathleen Ballew, mother of seven-year-old Jordan. Some experts say that training sessions may be a wise investment if an otherwise couch-prone child needs motivation to keep fit. However, they also point out that the usual kid-preferred activities of bike riding, walking or jumping rope could provide sufficient exercise for developing bodies. The battle against child obesity is both crucial and long overdue, but the thought of personal trainers for kids still makes us a bit uneasy. If this luxury continues its surge in popularity, what will the effect be on kids whose families can't afford personalized sports skills training? The humiliation factor of gym classes may further rise for some naturally unathletic preteens. Not to mention, the sudden demand for personal trainers can't be a positive reflection of what our kids do during their after-school hours. If hide-and seek, jump rope and tree climbing are no longer a natural part of our children's voluntary play regimen, perhaps we should unplug those Xboxes for the time being.
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