Read Chantel’s fitness blog written for the Academy of Fitness Professionals…
- Running Kids Exercise Classes
What’s Involved In Running Kids Exercise Classes?
It’s the best feeling in the world, empowering children with the insight and ability to commit to regular exercise. This sets them up for the future, instilling great lifestyle habits that they can adopt through their early years, into their teens and on into early adult hood and beyond.
If you’re thinking of running your own business, or expanding a current fitness business and are passionate about improving children’s lives through exercise, then offering kids exercise classes is a great option. The classes take many different shapes and forms such as circuit training for kids, core strengthening exercises for kids, HIIT workouts and kid’s aerobics. Children’s fitness franchises are also growing in popularity. These enable you to run a kids exercise business in a set locality using tried and tested methods.
There’s no doubt this a truly rewarding experience. You’ll see class participants build their knowledge, grow in confidence, develop their social skills and reap all the health benefits regular exercise has to offer. But it doesn’t stop there! Under your expert guidance your class will also learn about human anatomy, exercise choice and techniques, together with the importance of correct joint and bodily alignments.
Here’s my personal story of what made me choose to qualify in kid’s fitness, along with my top tips to getting started and ways to set up a successful coaching business.
Why Fitness for Kids?
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, especially as it involved leaving my fashion career after a lengthy twenty-three years. But, I am the happiest I’ve ever been and can only say I wish I’d switched careers and become a kids fitness coach years ago!
My love of personal fitness and passion for helping children geared me in this direction. I’d reached a time and stage in my life, after being a fashion designer for many years, of wanting and needing a change. So, in short, my internal fitness passion plus the love of exercising with my own kids made me follow this dream.
From a young age my son and daughter always came on their bikes with me whilst I ran. This made my run more enjoyable, plus it gave me the opportunity to talk with them, as well as guide them and inform them about street safety. They loved it so much they asked frequently to come with me. Then, eventually when I felt they were ready, their bike ride became a power walk / jog along my side. So it was a no brainer for me to help other kids, having seen and experienced the huge benefits this had on my children.
Even to this day my daughter, Emmy is by my side in my kids fitness sessions. She has become so fit now all the children look up to her and she loves it. My son also is now studying in this field. Eventually, he’d like to be a sports massage therapist or sports physiotherapist.
So if you’re thinking about it, do it, you will not regret it. Plus, you are helping the children out there physically as well as mentally, teaching them with your wisdom and learning.
Sadly, children today have become less active and this is impacting their lives both in the here and now and for the future. I believe offering kids exercise classes is part of the solution and offers a growing market for enthusiastic fitness entrepreneurs.
Taking the plunge
For me the first step was to complete my course and become fully qualified in kid’s fitness. I knew that once I’d passed I’d be able to offer children’s exercise classes and really set my business on the right track.
Since completing my level 2 kid’s fitness qualification I have been working as a kid’s fitness coach, steadily expanding my client base and classes. My qualification has given me the basic foundation and confidence to grow as a Personal Trainer and, as the course teaches, always better myself, re-evaluate and keep learning and researching.
I now offer private fitness sessions in children’s own environments. Saturday slots are extremely popular and I run back to back sessions helping a wide range of clients. Plus, I also work some weeknights and run group sessions which are mainly aimed at teens, giving them a full body 45-minute workout. The focus is on cardiovascular exercise, strength training and core work. I deliver correct techniques and stress the importance of this over to the children I teach. I truly love every second whether I’m running private sessions or working with groups. It gives me the biggest buzz ever!
Turning Kids Fitness into a Growing Business
Focus on the kids workout
After I qualified I put together a great kid’s fitness session packed with upbeat music, and I practiced instructing in front of the mirror. For me this was the best way to fine-tune everything before I delivered my first class for real. I focused on my teaching style, the exercises themselves (making sure they had the right balance of being achievable yet challenging) and even my choice of playlist.
It’s important that each exercise transitions smoothly and safely into the next. For example, I will not let my clients work on a mountain climber unless I know their core and stomach muscles have been engaged and worked on first.
I have worked really hard on the order of exercises in the classes I run as I believe this sets the session up well for success. Lots of thought and common sense is definitely needed to achieve this but it’s time well spent. You’ll be running kids exercise classes that are fun, safe, challenging and deliver results. For me, this was the recipe for success. Gradually word spread and I was able to work with more children and expand and grow the business.
I am also constantly updating and amending my kids class formats. I increase repetitions and weights based on their abilities and I push them safely to achieve their next levels. This keeps each child or teenager engaged in every session, and stops them getting bored from the same routine. It’s also a great way to activate different muscle groups, which means new fitness gains can be achieved.
I focus on each child in private kids exercise sessions too. Delivering bespoke workouts that meet the needs of both parents and the child’s preferences or requests.
Reward is super important; after all everyone likes to know they’ve done well.
I find that children will push themselves further if they know they are getting rewarded, even if it’s just praise and recognition for great work. And, for group exercise classes trophies are always a big hit with smaller children. I will always explain what they need to do prior the session, and why so they can aim to achieve the trophy this week.
I also found that rapport with parents is just as important as working with the child. Keep parents fully engaged by explaining each workout and highlighting what their child has achieved today. As long as their child is happy and making steady progress the parents will be thrilled to see them adapting their lifestyle and achieving their goals.
To me it’s always and only about keeping the heart healthy and teaching each child is a privilege and real bonus.
Exercise, I am finding helps the child mentally as well as physically. It’s a chance for them to escape for forty-five minutes, let off steam and have some fun. They feel good at the end of the workout and have achieved real gains. These gains aren’t just about fitness. Many parents have informed me that the impact on their child’s self-esteem and confidence has been a real delight. For example, one of the children I coach is progressing in their sport and another child I work with has grown in confidence positively impacting day to day living.
Childrens Fitness Classes – Top Tips
Here’s my top ten tips for delivering great children’s exercise classes based on my experiences over the past year.
#1 – Find out as much information as you can about the child prior to working with them.
An in depth PAR-Q form is a must together with discussing medical issues and seeking medical clearance, where necessary.
#2 – Explore their lifestyle, hobbies, interests and passions by requesting a completed lifestyle questionnaire.
This is powerful stuff because you can incorporate this knowledge into their exercise sessions to keep them engaged. For example, if they love dancing you can add a dance move. Or, if they love basketball you can incorporate some basketball drills.
When it comes to movements like squats, if you can relate the exercise to something they’re really into, or an idol they follow, you’ll massively up their motivation. Going back to basketball, you could explain you are working on squats as basketball requires low dribbling therefore needing stronger quads, hamstrings and glutes.
#3 – Allow time for the child to feel comfortable when you meet them. Constant praising is a must, children love to feel achieved and rewarded. Interact with their parent/carer after the session and keep them well posted on their child’s progress.
#4 – Help children develop good anatomy and exercise knowledge for their future years. I have encountered many interesting facts along my journey but one alarming discovery was children across all ages who were unable to locate the lungs or heart, or know their functions. Of course these very same children have however, been taught how to add up and subtract. Surely this is something primary schools should change going forward so we ensure every child has a sound understanding of basic anatomy.
#5 – My next tip is one straight from my kids fitness training, “THE TALK TEST “. This works a treat with children enabling you to easily monitor breathing without them even knowing. Or, you can even say “count with me!”
#6 – Look presentable and walk the talk. Make sure you’re setting a great impression to the children your instructing. So, if you ask them to bring a water bottle to their exercise class and take regular drinks, make sure you do it too.
#7 – Feedback and more feedback. After each training session or exercise class find out nuggets of really useful information. Here’s some of my favourite questions to ask. What was your favourite exercise and why? What have you learnt? What was the hardest bit and why?
#8 – Arrive on time and always let the parent / carer and the child know what you will be working on and the format of the session. Allow sufficient time to check the environment, carry out a risk assessment, prepare equipment and be ready to meet and greet upon arrival.
#9 – If you’re setting up your own kids exercise classes invest in a first aid course and make sure you have insurance cover in place. Why not keep a portfolio to hand that contains your kids fitness certificate, first aid certificate, DBS check and insurance cover. That way you’re ready to show new clients you’re fully covered and demonstrate your professionalism.
#10 – My last top tip is for teenage group exercise sessions. Constantly keep them engaged by shouting out words of encouragement, playing great music they relate to and always having exercise progression and regression options tucked up your sleeve. For example, beginners planks alongside full planks means everyone is getting involved, growing their abilities and confidence levels and being active.
Smile, promote positive energy and happiness. Remember you are technically a teacher of kids exercise and your positive energy and vibes rub off on the children. You want them to love exercise, look forward to their classes and adopt these habits throughout their lives.
Article from The Academy of Fitness Professionals Ltd.