Kids’ fitness
Start them young

A growing number of initiatives are springing up in response to the challenge of childhood inactivity, from staff training to new classes. Alison Bledge reports, in the second part of our series

By Alison Bledge | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 6




Glen Staite-Loveridge Group Junior Activity Manager Places for People Leisure

 

Glen Staite-Loveridge
 

“Our recently launched ‘Move with Peppa’ programme at Places for People Leisure has proved a tremendous success in its first three months, with 85 per cent of sessions at full capacity across the six initial launch sites. The sessions, designed by movement specialists TUMUV, have now been rolled out to a further 24 sites, ensuring every Places for People Leisure council contract now has access to Move with Peppa sessions.

“Harnessing the magic of the Peppa Pig TV show, the sessions across the six weeks are linked with memorable episodes of the programme, creating excitement and inspiring activity for the two- to four-year-old target audience. One of the sessions, designed to develop agility, is based on the first episode of the series – ‘Muddy Puddles’. In this 45-minute class, the children perform a series of movements including jumping, hopping and dance using custom-made muddy puddle floor markers.

“We’ve been delighted with the success of the programme at our initial launch sites. It’s captured the imaginations of our younger audience and it’s been fantastic to see parents and siblings coming together. The design of the programme complements our ethos as a social enterprise.”


 



Fun tasks focus on developing movement


Richard Merrick Fitness & Wellbeing Manager Freedom Leisure

 

Richard Merrick
 

“Overweight and inactive teenagers remain a cause for concern in our society, with around 15 per cent of school leavers classified as obese. There are several reasons for this, but ‘non-sporty’ kids disengaging from team games and physical activity as they progress through senior school is a major factor, especially among teenage girls.

“Having run three two-day courses during December 2014, we rolled out teen fitness staff training across the Freedom Leisure portfolio at the start of this year. The qualification, Adapting Fitness Instruction for Adolescents, was developed and accredited by Active IQ, with the course designed to equip learners with the knowledge and skills needed to adapt fitness instruction to teens. Specifically, it addresses how physiological and psychological issues faced by teenagers affect their ability and motivation to exercise. 

“All new members of staff are now trained in the qualification to ensure we have ample coverage at all our sites and can meet the demand for teen fitness supervision.

“I believe it’s a real opportunity – indeed an obligation – for community leisure centres to provide classes and supervised gym sessions that are both appealing and suitable for teenagers. We have ample space in our gyms and studios and can tap into the natural lull in our timetables between 4.00pm and 6.00pm.”


 



Physiological and psychological factors may affect teenagers’ motivation to exercise
PILOT PROJECT:


HEAD OF WELLBEING

In a bid to help combat rising levels of poor physical and mental health among pupils and teachers, Nuffield Health called for UK secondary schools to put themselves forward as potential candidates for a ground-breaking pilot, which will see a ‘head of wellbeing’ seconded to the school. Nuffield Health has committed to lead, fund and evaluate the initiative – the first of its kind – which includes the development and implementation of a two-year health and wellbeing programme.

The competition closed in April having received hundreds of entries. The winning school will be notified this month, with the two-year pilot beginning in September. Nuffield Health will invest significantly into the school, providing state of the art fitness facilities and developing a wellbeing strategy in collaboration with the school. As part of its services, a 12-point Health MOT will be offered to all teachers and a unique health check to pupils, with a particular focus on nutrition, exercise and emotional wellbeing.

 



The chosen school will gain a ‘wellbeing head’


David Parker Founder IMOVE Training & Education

 

David Parker
 

“IMOVE Training has worked with children as young as six years old and up to the age of 18 for almost 10 years, but it’s only in the last three years that the main business focus has been children and adolescent fitness. We help young people develop strong and healthy bodies, and aim to nurture a good perspective on maintaining activity into adulthood.

“We offer a variety of fitness sessions designed to develop fundamental movement skills and athletic motor skill competencies, while improving physical fitness such as mobility, strength, muscular strength and endurance, power and aerobic fitness. Every session includes elements of lifting, jumping, landing and skipping.

“We offer a full children’s fitness timetable at Next Generation Club in Swindon and now have nearly 100 participants attending IMOVE sessions throughout the week. The exposure and success has meant our programmes are also expanding into local schools. Sessions are booked per half term, with pay as you go during school holidays.

“Our most popular sessions are Junior Strength and Junior Running. In my experience, children of all ages and from different backgrounds – whether regularly playing sport or sedentary – really enjoy weight training. For the sporty child it can build strength and power for further success; for the sedentary child, the gym offers a safe environment, free from the pressures of competition, to develop confidence and personal success.

“The big question: if a structured and supervised fitness training session is good for children, at what age can a child start? The consensus is generally based on levels of maturity rather than their actual age: children must be responsible, able to listen and take instruction. That generally means children aged 10 and over, although we’ve found girls as young as eight can take instruction. As a coach, you may have to approach the session slightly differently if you’re working with young boys whose learning style is not necessarily geared towards listening.

“Certainly fitness training can be started at school age – definitely secondary school age – but not every school has a gym. Unfortunately most fitness clubs don’t allow children under the age of 14 to participate, which is a missed opportunity.”


 



Every session includes elements of lifting, jumping, landing and skipping


Alan Pearson MD SAQ International

 

Alan Pearson
 

“SAQ International has worked with thousands of schools and organisations over the last 20 years to deliver consultancy services, functional activity programmes and equipment. The three main programmes for SAQ – which stands for speed, agility and quickness – are Fundamental Movement, Jab and Move (JaM) and Early Essential Movement.

“The Fundamental Movement programme ensures children are taught to move efficiently and correctly in all directions, as well as controlling and manipulating objects – for example, catch and strike. This builds confidence and has a positive impact on their behaviour and their ability to read, write and concentrate. JaM is a functional boxing programme that brings together self-defence, physical training, hand-eye co-ordination, power and speed. Lastly, Early Essential Movement is based on key research regarding a child’s early development, focusing on developing neuro pathways of the brain to ensure optimal child development.

“We get an incredible response to our programmes from teachers, especially after showing them research and results from our work with failing schools in London. Physical activity has a far greater impact on the children’s ability to learn, improve confidence, self-esteem and behaviour than it does on obesity. 

“SAQ International has worked with Virgin Active on a global basis for over 16 years and we’ve partnered with the operator in the UK for the last three years. Fundamental Movement has been introduced in over 65 Virgin Active Academy sites.”


NEW CLASSES:


BORN TO MOVE

The Les Mills Born to Move programmes have been scientifically proven to engage, enthuse and encourage a love of movement and physical activity among children between the ages of two and 16 years.

There are five separate movement-based programmes for the five different age groups, starting with two- to three-year-olds through to teenagers. Classes for the younger children build foundation fitness skills through imagination, exploration and movement set to specially created music. Classes for older children use current chart hits and focus on building dance, yoga, martial arts and athletic skills.

Les Mills Born to Move is a result of five years’ research, development and testing and is supported by a comprehensive teacher training system. Each class is carefully crafted to meet the unique developmental needs of the specific age group.

 



The new classes set movement to specially created music
STUDY:

PEER POWER

The University of Bristol launched a study in April to assess whether peer-led intervention could address the steep reduction in teenage girls doing physical activity.

Funded by the National Institute of Health Research, PLAN-A involves Year Eight girls from six schools in South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Students nominate peer supporters to receive training on communication skills, how to be active, and how to overcome barriers to activity. The girls then informally diffuse positive messages about physical activity to their peer group.

The results of the study, which is being led by Dr Simon Sebire, will be available in spring 2017.



Jenny Patrickson Commercial Director Active IQ

 

Jenny Patrickson
 

“The issue of physical inactivity in the younger generation is a growing concern and we believe education is key in tackling this. By learning how to engage, deliver and manage activity and behaviours among young children and their families, we can impact on the health and wellbeing of future generations. If we can educate young children and their relatives, together they can take this knowledge and experience into the rest of their lives.

“To meet this need, Active IQ launched a new qualification in January 2015 to provide learners with the knowledge and skills to deliver safe, effective and stimulating physical activity sessions for children under the age of five. The Level 2 Certificate in Delivering Behaviour Management and Physical Activities to Children Under Five addresses the common core set of skills and knowledge developed by the Children’s Workforce Development Council. We have 49 centres approved to deliver it.

“The qualification, which gives learners the skills needed to promote healthy living to families and children, is open to everyone – no previous experience or qualifications are required. It’s ideally suited for fitness instructors or PTs looking to expand their skills, or as an entry point for those wanting to specialise in this area.”




Steven Ward Executive director ukactive

 

Steven Ward
 

“The modern day child is surrounded by a glut of technology and entertainment platforms that can engage them for hours without moving from their seat. Such inactive lifestyle choices are lending themselves to what Lord Sebastian Coe has dubbed ‘the least active generation in history’.

“March 2015 saw the formal integration of Compass – the nation’s leading representative body for children’s physical activity providers – into ukactive. The merger was prompted by our increasingly overlapping membership, and our fundamental belief that we must focus our efforts on correcting physical inactivity among children in all settings, including schools.

“This has culminated in the birth of ‘ukactive kids’, a new wing of the organisation that specifically focuses on championing children’s physical activity in the UK (see also p24).

“The first ukactive kids report to be published this year highlights the lack of awareness and emphasis on children’s activity and fitness throughout primary education, and will recommend how we can help the next generation be more active. Primary data for this report was sourced by sending out over 200 Freedom of Information requests to English primary schools and academies. The arrival of ukactive kids marks a seminal moment in the history of ukactive. We’ll do our utmost to halt the growth of this inactive generation, so our young people can have a brighter and healthier future.”


 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2015 issue 6

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Start them young

Kids’ fitness

Start them young


A growing number of initiatives are springing up in response to the challenge of childhood inactivity, from staff training to new classes. Alison Bledge reports, in the second part of our series

Alison Bledge
Classes harness the magic of the popular Peppa Pig TV show



Glen Staite-Loveridge Group Junior Activity Manager Places for People Leisure

 

Glen Staite-Loveridge
 

“Our recently launched ‘Move with Peppa’ programme at Places for People Leisure has proved a tremendous success in its first three months, with 85 per cent of sessions at full capacity across the six initial launch sites. The sessions, designed by movement specialists TUMUV, have now been rolled out to a further 24 sites, ensuring every Places for People Leisure council contract now has access to Move with Peppa sessions.

“Harnessing the magic of the Peppa Pig TV show, the sessions across the six weeks are linked with memorable episodes of the programme, creating excitement and inspiring activity for the two- to four-year-old target audience. One of the sessions, designed to develop agility, is based on the first episode of the series – ‘Muddy Puddles’. In this 45-minute class, the children perform a series of movements including jumping, hopping and dance using custom-made muddy puddle floor markers.

“We’ve been delighted with the success of the programme at our initial launch sites. It’s captured the imaginations of our younger audience and it’s been fantastic to see parents and siblings coming together. The design of the programme complements our ethos as a social enterprise.”


 



Fun tasks focus on developing movement


Richard Merrick Fitness & Wellbeing Manager Freedom Leisure

 

Richard Merrick
 

“Overweight and inactive teenagers remain a cause for concern in our society, with around 15 per cent of school leavers classified as obese. There are several reasons for this, but ‘non-sporty’ kids disengaging from team games and physical activity as they progress through senior school is a major factor, especially among teenage girls.

“Having run three two-day courses during December 2014, we rolled out teen fitness staff training across the Freedom Leisure portfolio at the start of this year. The qualification, Adapting Fitness Instruction for Adolescents, was developed and accredited by Active IQ, with the course designed to equip learners with the knowledge and skills needed to adapt fitness instruction to teens. Specifically, it addresses how physiological and psychological issues faced by teenagers affect their ability and motivation to exercise. 

“All new members of staff are now trained in the qualification to ensure we have ample coverage at all our sites and can meet the demand for teen fitness supervision.

“I believe it’s a real opportunity – indeed an obligation – for community leisure centres to provide classes and supervised gym sessions that are both appealing and suitable for teenagers. We have ample space in our gyms and studios and can tap into the natural lull in our timetables between 4.00pm and 6.00pm.”


 



Physiological and psychological factors may affect teenagers’ motivation to exercise
PILOT PROJECT:


HEAD OF WELLBEING

In a bid to help combat rising levels of poor physical and mental health among pupils and teachers, Nuffield Health called for UK secondary schools to put themselves forward as potential candidates for a ground-breaking pilot, which will see a ‘head of wellbeing’ seconded to the school. Nuffield Health has committed to lead, fund and evaluate the initiative – the first of its kind – which includes the development and implementation of a two-year health and wellbeing programme.

The competition closed in April having received hundreds of entries. The winning school will be notified this month, with the two-year pilot beginning in September. Nuffield Health will invest significantly into the school, providing state of the art fitness facilities and developing a wellbeing strategy in collaboration with the school. As part of its services, a 12-point Health MOT will be offered to all teachers and a unique health check to pupils, with a particular focus on nutrition, exercise and emotional wellbeing.

 



The chosen school will gain a ‘wellbeing head’


David Parker Founder IMOVE Training & Education

 

David Parker
 

“IMOVE Training has worked with children as young as six years old and up to the age of 18 for almost 10 years, but it’s only in the last three years that the main business focus has been children and adolescent fitness. We help young people develop strong and healthy bodies, and aim to nurture a good perspective on maintaining activity into adulthood.

“We offer a variety of fitness sessions designed to develop fundamental movement skills and athletic motor skill competencies, while improving physical fitness such as mobility, strength, muscular strength and endurance, power and aerobic fitness. Every session includes elements of lifting, jumping, landing and skipping.

“We offer a full children’s fitness timetable at Next Generation Club in Swindon and now have nearly 100 participants attending IMOVE sessions throughout the week. The exposure and success has meant our programmes are also expanding into local schools. Sessions are booked per half term, with pay as you go during school holidays.

“Our most popular sessions are Junior Strength and Junior Running. In my experience, children of all ages and from different backgrounds – whether regularly playing sport or sedentary – really enjoy weight training. For the sporty child it can build strength and power for further success; for the sedentary child, the gym offers a safe environment, free from the pressures of competition, to develop confidence and personal success.

“The big question: if a structured and supervised fitness training session is good for children, at what age can a child start? The consensus is generally based on levels of maturity rather than their actual age: children must be responsible, able to listen and take instruction. That generally means children aged 10 and over, although we’ve found girls as young as eight can take instruction. As a coach, you may have to approach the session slightly differently if you’re working with young boys whose learning style is not necessarily geared towards listening.

“Certainly fitness training can be started at school age – definitely secondary school age – but not every school has a gym. Unfortunately most fitness clubs don’t allow children under the age of 14 to participate, which is a missed opportunity.”


 



Every session includes elements of lifting, jumping, landing and skipping


Alan Pearson MD SAQ International

 

Alan Pearson
 

“SAQ International has worked with thousands of schools and organisations over the last 20 years to deliver consultancy services, functional activity programmes and equipment. The three main programmes for SAQ – which stands for speed, agility and quickness – are Fundamental Movement, Jab and Move (JaM) and Early Essential Movement.

“The Fundamental Movement programme ensures children are taught to move efficiently and correctly in all directions, as well as controlling and manipulating objects – for example, catch and strike. This builds confidence and has a positive impact on their behaviour and their ability to read, write and concentrate. JaM is a functional boxing programme that brings together self-defence, physical training, hand-eye co-ordination, power and speed. Lastly, Early Essential Movement is based on key research regarding a child’s early development, focusing on developing neuro pathways of the brain to ensure optimal child development.

“We get an incredible response to our programmes from teachers, especially after showing them research and results from our work with failing schools in London. Physical activity has a far greater impact on the children’s ability to learn, improve confidence, self-esteem and behaviour than it does on obesity. 

“SAQ International has worked with Virgin Active on a global basis for over 16 years and we’ve partnered with the operator in the UK for the last three years. Fundamental Movement has been introduced in over 65 Virgin Active Academy sites.”


NEW CLASSES:


BORN TO MOVE

The Les Mills Born to Move programmes have been scientifically proven to engage, enthuse and encourage a love of movement and physical activity among children between the ages of two and 16 years.

There are five separate movement-based programmes for the five different age groups, starting with two- to three-year-olds through to teenagers. Classes for the younger children build foundation fitness skills through imagination, exploration and movement set to specially created music. Classes for older children use current chart hits and focus on building dance, yoga, martial arts and athletic skills.

Les Mills Born to Move is a result of five years’ research, development and testing and is supported by a comprehensive teacher training system. Each class is carefully crafted to meet the unique developmental needs of the specific age group.

 



The new classes set movement to specially created music
STUDY:

PEER POWER

The University of Bristol launched a study in April to assess whether peer-led intervention could address the steep reduction in teenage girls doing physical activity.

Funded by the National Institute of Health Research, PLAN-A involves Year Eight girls from six schools in South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Students nominate peer supporters to receive training on communication skills, how to be active, and how to overcome barriers to activity. The girls then informally diffuse positive messages about physical activity to their peer group.

The results of the study, which is being led by Dr Simon Sebire, will be available in spring 2017.



Jenny Patrickson Commercial Director Active IQ

 

Jenny Patrickson
 

“The issue of physical inactivity in the younger generation is a growing concern and we believe education is key in tackling this. By learning how to engage, deliver and manage activity and behaviours among young children and their families, we can impact on the health and wellbeing of future generations. If we can educate young children and their relatives, together they can take this knowledge and experience into the rest of their lives.

“To meet this need, Active IQ launched a new qualification in January 2015 to provide learners with the knowledge and skills to deliver safe, effective and stimulating physical activity sessions for children under the age of five. The Level 2 Certificate in Delivering Behaviour Management and Physical Activities to Children Under Five addresses the common core set of skills and knowledge developed by the Children’s Workforce Development Council. We have 49 centres approved to deliver it.

“The qualification, which gives learners the skills needed to promote healthy living to families and children, is open to everyone – no previous experience or qualifications are required. It’s ideally suited for fitness instructors or PTs looking to expand their skills, or as an entry point for those wanting to specialise in this area.”




Steven Ward Executive director ukactive

 

Steven Ward
 

“The modern day child is surrounded by a glut of technology and entertainment platforms that can engage them for hours without moving from their seat. Such inactive lifestyle choices are lending themselves to what Lord Sebastian Coe has dubbed ‘the least active generation in history’.

“March 2015 saw the formal integration of Compass – the nation’s leading representative body for children’s physical activity providers – into ukactive. The merger was prompted by our increasingly overlapping membership, and our fundamental belief that we must focus our efforts on correcting physical inactivity among children in all settings, including schools.

“This has culminated in the birth of ‘ukactive kids’, a new wing of the organisation that specifically focuses on championing children’s physical activity in the UK (see also p24).

“The first ukactive kids report to be published this year highlights the lack of awareness and emphasis on children’s activity and fitness throughout primary education, and will recommend how we can help the next generation be more active. Primary data for this report was sourced by sending out over 200 Freedom of Information requests to English primary schools and academies. The arrival of ukactive kids marks a seminal moment in the history of ukactive. We’ll do our utmost to halt the growth of this inactive generation, so our young people can have a brighter and healthier future.”



Originally published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 6

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