How many of us as adults wish we would’ve started exercising when we were younger? The extra pounds that inevitably come with age could have potentially been kept off and we would’ve gotten a head start on developing our fitness. It’s also much easier to keep up with a habit when you grew up with it.
But should kids workout? And if so, when is a good age to start?
You can find a sport to put your kid in pretty much as soon as they start walking, but it’s not always a good idea. Specializing in one specific sport at an early age can lead to overuse injuries by the time the child is a teenager, and young children can get stressed by competition. Instead, toddlers and preschoolers should focus on free-play and having fun [Link].
It’s been rumored that lifting weights can stunt children’s growth, but according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), there’s no evidence of that [Link]. This is provided that children are lifting weights appropriate for their age and under careful supervision. Kids shouldn’t be working with maximal loads or high intensity exercise, but light weights in the range of 12 to 15 reps done with proper form are safe and beneficial.
The age kids should start resistance training is often a question of maturity more so than physiology. Can the child listen to and follow directions? Can they behave in an orderly manner and follow safety protocols? Usually around the age of seven or eight kids are mentally prepared to start lifting weights [Link]. However, it is important to note that children younger than that might not have the coordination or balance to properly execute certain movements [Link].
Americans have increasingly struggled with sedentary lifestyles, and it’s not just the adults who are stuck behind a screen. Almost 42% of high school students spend three hours or more on a computer or playing video games [Link]. And nearly 25% of teens report watching three or more hours of TV a day [Link]. Spending hours a day sitting isn’t good for anyone, and incorporating daily exercise benefits kids as much as it does adults. Working out can help adolescents fight obesity, build strength, improve cognitive function, and grow stronger bones.
Soul knows the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle early on. That’s why we have a Youth Crossfit class that incorporates play, bodyweight movements, and light weights. Kids ages six and up can workout and have fun under close supervision.
Whether it’s sports, bootcamp, dance, or gymnastics, kids should enjoy whatever physical activity they partake in. And if parents set the example of exercising regularly, their children are more likely to absorb that mentality.
Depending on your stance, maybe you believe that kids should just be kids and not engage in formal exercise. But working out and lifting weights is a safe option for children, and regardless of what form it takes, no one will argue that kids and teenagers benefit from being active. We encourage children to find a physical activity they enjoy so they grow up strong and healthy and grateful they started early.
When people think about what’s important for a successful gym, the first things that usually come to mind are the equipment, state of the facility, and classes. These features are like the bones of a gym–an important part of the structure. But they’re not what gives the gym life. For that, you need to find the heart of a gym.
What exactly does that mean? Well, the heart of a gym is what gives it a pulse. It’s what sets the vibe and makes it feel like home. The heart of a gym is in its culture.
Gym culture thrives on building relationships and fostering community. And it’s that connection that turns new clients into long-term members.
At commercial gyms there tends to be a less personal culture due to the size of the business, high employee turnover rate, and high client load. Both employees and new clients can feel the pressure of the sales-driven atmosphere. But many people are willing to overlook this for the convenience of cheap memberships, multiple locations, longer business hours, and lots of machines. Like the Starbucks of the fitness world, big chain gyms appeal to the general public. They are fine for someone who has general fitness goals and wants to be in and out of the gym.
Private gyms are smaller and more intimate. The culture will vary from place to place, but there is a generally a more personal touch. Private gyms are usually more expensive, but in exchange you get specialized programs, a higher level of attention, and a less crowded gym. Due to the smaller size, the culture of an independent facility can really shine.
If you want to workout in a place that you really love, pay attention to the culture with these pointers.
- Customer service: How long do they take to respond to you? How do they treat you? How attentive are coaches and management? Clients are the backbone of a business and should be placed as top priority. The way a gym’s staff interacts with prospects and clients says a lot about how much they value them. Take note.
- Ambiance/vibe: This is the feeling you get when you first step in. It’s the atmosphere influenced by the decor and layout, the different personalities in the gym, and the way they receive people. A good gym should have an environment that makes you feel comfortable and at ease. Coaching style also plays a role in setting the vibe. For example, are coaches hardcore in the way they push their clients or are they gently encouraging? Neither is right or wrong; it just depends what you’re looking for.
- Values: These are the set of principles that are important to the gym. Values act as a framework for the way staff interacts with clients and how they work together as a team. You might see a set of values printed on a poster on the wall, but if it’s not obvious, just ask. Their values should align with yours. For example, one of Soul’s values is to be the best part of our clients’ day. It’s a tenet that influences all aspects of the way we do business.
- Community: There are people who like working out alone, and there are people who thrive on group workouts and the connection they feel from seeing the same faces everyday. Gyms build community by bringing members together through things like group outings, barbecues, partner workouts, and in-house competitions.
At Soul we value positivity and individuality. We always strive to give great customer service. Our coaches are always pushing for client progress, whether they’re an elite athlete or recreational lifter. It’s not just all work though. We host holiday events, in-house competitions, and active group outings.
Remember that it’s easy to get distracted by nice equipment or a fancy juice bar, but it’s the intangible things that make or break a gym. If a facility’s friendliness and good vibes impress you right away, then you’ve found a place that has a great culture.
Strength training is more mainstream than ever. It used to be practiced by a niche of bodybuilders and athletes but has now spread to the masses. And it’s no surprise, considering strength training’s many benefits, such as stronger bones, increased muscle mass, injury prevention, and everyone’s favorite–being able to eat more. Maybe you’ve even been working out with weights, putting in the time to learn the form and different exercises. You can see your body starting to change and want to know how to make the most of your training. Or maybe you’re experienced with lifting but have hit a sticking point you want to break through.
There are three pillars of strength that drive progress no matter where you are in your lifting journey. They apply whether you’re a weightlifter, powerlifter, or recreational lifter. When there’s a gap in one of these areas, your strength will most likely suffer. These pillars are your foundation; they support your training and growth.
Progressive overload is defined as “the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.” In this case, stress is a good thing. It’s what helps us grow and get stronger. Following the same routine and lifting the same weight for months or years does not provide enough stimulus to create body change or improve performance. For muscle growth or increased strength, we need to incrementally increase the weight we lift or add reps. It will be easy for a beginner to add weight, but more difficult the more advanced you get. That’s why smart programming is crucial. There are many different programs you can follow such as 5×5 or 5-3-1. At Soul, we offer our own programming to help you reach your strength goals.
Things To Consider:
- Have you been lifting the same weight for a while?
- Does your programming account for progressive overload?
- Do you have a method to test your progress?
- Make sure you have a solid program for your goals.
- Write down how much weight you lift for each workout.
- Implement a method to gauge progress, such as periodically testing your one-rep max.
As Mark Rippetoe said, “You don’t get strong by lifting weights. You get strong by recovering from lifting weights.” It can be tempting to push yourself to your limits. That’s what people do in the gym, right? Well, the uninformed ones do, while people in the know give their bodies time to recover. The downtime between lifting sessions is important for your muscle tissue to repair itself. If you have not given yourself ample recovery time, then you won’t be able to hit your lifts. You should give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover from a workout. Recovery also includes getting enough sleep and doing stretching/mobility work.
Things to Consider:
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you frequently injured?
- Are you taking care of your tissue with mobility work/stretching/massage?
- Are you not hitting your lifts?
- Make sure you are stretching after each workout.
- Find a qualified sports therapist or masseuse to treat injuries or soft tissue issues.
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
- Give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover before working again.
Nutrition is important for every aspect of living well, and it plays a huge role in your performance. What you put into your body is fuel for your workouts, so choose wisely. You want the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs to give you energy for your workouts without storing extra fat (unless your goal is to gain weight). That amount is going to be different for everyone, and we recommend getting a coach to help you figure it out. Carbs are particularly important for sustaining energy during a workout, while protein helps you build muscle, keeps you sated, and helps stabilize blood sugar. Healthy fats are important for nutrient absorption and optimum brain and heart function. When you consume the right amount of these three macronutrients, your energy level is high, your mood is stable, and workouts feel solid.
Thing To Consider:
- Do you feel lightheaded or drained during workouts?
- Are you missing lifts?
- Do you have undesired weight gain or weight loss?
- Do you feel heavy or bloated during workouts?
- Eat appropriate amount of carbs and protein pre- and post-workout.
- Time pre- and post-workout meals accordingly. You want enough time to digest but not so much time that you’re hungry again.
- Aim to get appropriate macros for your goal. There’s no need to be obsessive but you should at least be in range.
- Eat mostly nutrient dense food, such as vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Remember, it’s not just about showing up to the gym and throwing around some heavy weights. There’s a method to gaining strength and muscle, and building these pillars will ensure that you make steady progress. If you think you might need help in one of these areas, one of our coaches will be glad to assist you. If you’d like a consultation, please email us at: email@example.com