Children coming to my exercise classes has never been an issue because it had never happened until a couple of months ago. I co-own a women's fitness company, and one day one of the mums bought her three-year-old boy to my Kettlebell class. Panic washed over me; she hadn't phoned to ask me and here he was following in behind her.
Every scenario possible ran through my head in the time it took for her to walk to the other side of the hall. Was he going to be good and just sit there? What if he runs across the room and trips over a Kettlebell? What if he makes a lot of noise and the other ladies disapprove? What if he distracts his mum to the point that she has to keep stopping?
With child obesity on the rise it was quite refreshing seeing a young boy try and mimic his mum doing burpees. If they hadn't have come he would probably be at home watching his mum lay on the sofa in front of the TV because she couldn't get childcare. If more children got to see their parents exercising the child obesity rate might reduce. Most people could say they were influenced by their parents growing up, unfortunately for me my parents were not very active, which was possibly why I was always slightly overweight.
Is it Practical to Have Children Watching Exercise Classes?
No probably not. The health and safety of it all probably isn't worth people's time, and the distraction could annoy other participants. Some people go to an exercise class to get away from their own kids, so having to deal with other children in their downtime could prove an issue. However, I still can't help but think the more children see their parents being active, the more likely they will be active.
With personal training clients its slightly different, as one on one training can be easily controlled. If a client asked me to bring her child along I wouldn't mind, as long as they didn't keep interrupting her. If it was affecting her training then I would have a chat, but if it's a choice between the client not coming at all or the client coming with their child, I would pick the latter any day.
Pros and Cons
Pro - If childcare is an issue then taking your child to the class with you allows you to still go.
Con - Too many parents bringing their kids could result in overcrowding and the class being overshadowed by the disruption.
Pro - As a parent you are setting a good example for your child to follow suit.
Con - Some parents see exercise as their down time so in fact don't want children present.
Pro - On the other hand, it could be a way of spending more time with your children if you work a lot and you still want to exercise.
Con - Will it overshadow an instructor's ability? Will people only be going to classes simply because they can take their child and vice versa. Will it lose an instructor clients?
In summary there are pros and cons to allowing children to watch exercise classes. There are various exercise classes that allow parent and children workouts but these are limited. If you are someone that wants to do a specific type of training like Kettlebells then that isn't going to work.
Personally I don't mind the odd one or two every so often coming along and when they do join in I feel like I'm making a difference in a family's life, rather than just one person. Maybe the gyms could install the crèche's with a window overlooking into some of the studios. The kids are supervised and can still watch their parents exercising. Maybe external exercise classes could have a rota system for parents so there aren't too many children coming at once.
Maybe I'm just living in a dream world...
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