Gymnastics? Tennis? Martial arts? How old? Group or solo?

Matching kids with exercise classes and activities can be a challenge. Here are some questions that can help you decide what type of class fits your child.

How young?

Annmarie Mangin of Abington, PA has taken her twins John and Sheila to nearby Romp and Roll and The Little Gym since they were 10 months old. “It was important for me to get them active at a young age for the socialization and the excitement,” she says. “Plus, I learned so much about what they were capable of doing and learning.”

Catie Haig, owner of The Little Gym in Jenkintown, PA says kids begin at 4 months, with the help of a parent or guardian. “Their brains are sponges in the early years, so the earlier you can expose them to the multi-sensory stimulating environment, the better,” she says.

Is the class matched to your child?

AC Gymnastics in Williamstown, NJ, uses age and gender to match kids with classes. “We try our best to keep our students in classes with other kids at or close to the same age,” says head coach Jesse Rappaport. “We have classes and programs designed for all types of abilities.”

The Little Gym has gymnastics programs and music for each age group. Haig says that matching kids with classes depends on the child’s development, motor skills, previous social activities and personality.

What about martial arts?

Your child might get a kick out of martial arts. Ron Succarotte of the American Martial Arts Institute in Bear, DE says that most schools, regardless of style of martial art, teach physical skills that are matched to each child.

“Kids that do not tend to excel in group sports do extremely well in martial arts,” says Succarotte. “Success is measured by personal goals and work the individual puts into training.”

What does tennis teach?

Denard McLendon, director of tennis at Frog Hollow Racquet Club in Lansdale, PA, says that tennis is a great sport for all kids, as it teaches agility, balance, coordination, fitness, problem solving, and sportsmanship. “Ability is determined by pre-clinic evaluations. Kids must meet certain prerequisites to participate in clinics that are not entry level clinics,” he says.

Group or individual?

Rappaport finds advantages in group activities. “I think when dealing with kids and groups it’s better to maintain a faster pace with circuits and other training methods. I prefer larger classes because I can set up more things to do and the kids do not get bored. However, if you are looking for one-on-one training, we do offer private lessons.”

Why should parents participate?

Try to be involved in your kid’s classes. “I do take part in the classes,” says Mangin. “Part of that is due to the kids’ age. It’s been great to be with them to see the joy in their faces, to learn from the instructors what we can continue to teach them at home and to see their progress.”

 “The parent-child classes help younger children learn to socialize, share, and gain comfort in a group setting at a younger age,” says Haig.

Larry Atkins is a freelance writer. He teaches journalism at Temple University and Arcadia University.

Categories: Classes, Fitness