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Trendy Exercises to Get Kids Fit and Active
Posted on Aug 05, 2013 by Rob Kellaghan
A guide to new exercises for kids that are gaining in popularity.
School is out for the summer yet for some young kids and their parents it can develop into a very lazy and boring time of the year. Daytime temperatures are too high to permit much outdoor activity, and being cooped up indoors quickly leads to boredom. Parents, on the other hand, are loathe to leave their kids to lounge around the house or spend hours in front of the TV or computer. What to do?
After spending day upon day at school and studying, summer holidays offer kids an outlet to play and get active. Traditional sports and exercises, however, no longer hold the same allure for modern kids as they did in times gone by. Sports clubs, gyms and schools are now being forced to get creative in how they provide physical education and sporting activities for kids. Outlined below are some of the more novel ways kids are getting active this summer.
Although yoga for kids was first introduced at the Bodytree Studio in Abu Dhabi back in 2007, its popularity has risen to such an extent that it now holds regular classes for kids of various ages. Yoga appeals to both kids and parents because it helps children learn and understand more about their mind, body and soul. Yoga sessions and how they are structured require the child to develop balance, posture, coordination, strength and flexibility. They also help to sharpen a child’s level of concentration and improve their ability to promote inner calm. An essential element of yoga classes is deep breathing exercises which can also help to provide relief from stress and anxiety.
Another benefit of children practicing yoga is the relaxed environment and friendly atmosphere found in each of the classes. Teachers are supportive of all students regardless of their experience or ability, and the lack of a competitive element to the classes is seen as a big positive by many parents.
Young kids, especially boys, just love recreating their favorite action heroes when playing with friends. While these play fights are natural and occur every day in cities around the world, the underlying elements these play fights help to promote - confidence, athleticism, coordination, balance and strength - are central to martial arts and they now appeal to more and more children and their parents. In the UAE, martial arts classes have always been popular but now kids as young as four years of age are being enrolled in classes.
Martial Arts is the generic term for the various codes of self defense that originated in East Asia. They include karate, taekwondo, judo, tai chi and kickboxing among others. In each of the codes, martial arts classes are usually given by one teacher (or master) who provides students with insights into self defense tactics which also promote development of the mind and body. Kids who practice martial arts from a young age learn to develop respect for their teachers and elders, improve coordination and concentration, increase body strength, develop an appreciation for teamwork and gain some new friends along the way.
Pilates has become a very popular fitness class at many gyms and now parents are seeing the advantages of having their children practice it too. Similar in some aspects to yoga, pilates is a series of exercise routines designed to improve coordination, strength, endurance and flexibility. These exercises are done either using mats, equipment or simple body posture techniques and they are specifically aimed at improving a person’s posture, core body strength and general health and well being.
For kids, pilates classes typically take the form of the instructor detailing a number of pilates positions which the kids must replicate. Background music is also added to increase the sense of fun and help the children to integrate fully into the class. Also, instructors will typically aim to introduce as many positions as possible to keep classes varied and interesting. Most gyms and sports clubs in the UAE that hold pilates classes for adults are now offering kids classes too.
Sometimes described as martial arts with music, capoeira is a Brazilian art form that fuses dance, acrobatics, music and martial arts techniques. The adult version is extremely popular in the United States and it is now finding enthusiasts around the world, including in the UAE. Classes at most gyms are divided up into age groups, with the youngest being for those aged three to five, and typically last up to one hour.
The benefits of capoeira are also similar to those of yoga and martial arts. Classes aim to increase a child’s endurance, strength and flexibility, improve coordination, increase body awareness, encourage social skills and promote creativity. Overall, participating in regular classes of capoeira will improve a child’s physical fitness and general well being.
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