You and your toddler should be getting regular exercise, but going to the gym may not be the right choice. Taking your toddler to classes at a gym isn’t quite the same as using gym equipment though. I still encourage you to sign up for parent-and-me tumbling and exercise classes, but taking your toddler to a junior gym may not be sending the right message about living a healthy life.

I’m not sure how popular these junior gyms are in the United States, but in England and the rest of the UK, junior gyms are getting fairly popular with some families and there are over 6 junior gyms available with more expecting to open up soon.

What Are Junior Gyms
Junior gyms are basically gyms for children, but they don’t look like some of the toddler- and child-friendly facilities you might have seen. They have all the same equipment as a regular gym, except that they’re for children. Children as young as five are allowed to use weight machines, treadmills, and other similar equipment under the supervision of trainers. These gyms also have trampolines and sports courts as well. These sound like a pretty good idea, so what’s the problem?

Problems with Kids and Gyms
Exercise is not the problem, it’s the routines and exercise regimes that many children are started on at these gyms that pose the problem. The gyms are open for every child, but they’re also utilized by children being groomed for professional sports. Though the gyms aren’t available for toddlers, very young children are working out and going through daily exercise programs under the tutelage of professional trainers.

Some parents and professionals have expressed concerns about this level of exercise for children. Even in the US where these gyms aren’t as prevalent, parents need to be careful about over exercising their children or putting them on overly rigorous workout schedules.

The best exercise for toddlers and children is natural exercise. Sports are also healthy, but you should keep your toddlers and children away from weight training and other types of circuit training. Promoters of the gyms say that they’re supporting healthy lifestyles in children as well as offering opportunities for social interaction with other children, but there are others ways to do this.

Len Almond of the British Heart Foundation's National Centre for Physical Education says that “children should absolutely not be doing weight training or resistance work.” However, some aspects of the gyms are very healthy. They allow children to have access to sports and other healthy forms of entertainment, but parents should remember to keep their children away from heavy lifting and other resistance exercise machines.

Should children really work out at the gym?. (2003, May 30). Mail Online.