A new trend in the fitness/social media realm is to see kids weightlifting.
Like, full on weightlifting. Shoes, singlet, all of it.
And it’s amazing.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing a kid do any sport is amazing. But weightlifting is something you don’t see very often. If you attend a local gym that programs weightlifting, you know how hard it is. And that makes seeing a child do it so much cooler!
I’ve had the chance to compete in a couple weightlifting meets within the past 5 years, both meets have had kids compete as young as 7-8 years old. No one in the crowd was talking about how bad it was for their growth, or how they’re going to get hurt. They only cheered and encouraged. That can likely be contributed to how invested that crowd is in their own physical health, the youth, and the one word that comes to my mind when thinking of youth weightlifting/fitness/sport: possibility.
In the social circle that I am in, I don’t know of any parent that wants their kid to be worse off. And I hope that can be said about a majority of parents, “I want my kid to be better, stronger, and smarter than me.” I really believe that finding that “one thing” for your child as they are growing up sets the framework to be better, stronger, and smarter than the previous generation.
That “one thing” doesn’t have to be physical. They can range from speed Rubik’s Cube to slam Dr. Seuss poetry. Kids need a singular focus to forge character traits that will stick with them for life. In my eyes, I see three traits that kids should nurture for themselves.
The first being diligence. Being able to stick to something that is challenging and being able to show up on time. That could be practices, school, work meetings, friend arrangements, you name it. Instilling a sense of responsibility with time and task management is universal for everyone and lasts a lifetime.
Next, physical literacy. This means being able to move the body in a controlled, safe way. Jump, run, swim, fall, and most importantly play (which could be argued that play is a combination of the previous listed elements). Kids who can move well from an early age, move well for a lifetime. Safe, proper, and explosive movement is the gift that keeps on giving. Ask any professional athlete what their childhood was like, I bet it sounds something like that. No, just letting your kid play won’t turn them into a professional athlete, but it will allow them to explore avenues of physical challenge. It may even be as simple as being able to climb a tree with their friends so they don’t feel left out (take it from a kid who had a big fear of heights).
The last being realism. The cliche goes, “win or lose, there’s a lesson.” That’s absolutely true. We may not know the outcome of a basketball game, a big test in math, a risk in taking a new job, but we can control our effort going into that event and accepting the outcome with dignity. Story time, I played basketball for about 11 years growing up. I lost a lot of games. A lot. Probably because I didn’t practice a lot as I got older. The competition got better and I stayed the same. I can’t deny that result. In hindsight, I’ve absolutely learned that, as a kid, I should’ve practiced more. I, along with all of my other teammates and friends, lost because of it.
So, diligence, physical literacy, and realism. They’re all tied into one thing: possibility. Possibility that our young ones can have a better, more productive life with a more productive body. To me, that’s putting 5 cents into a bank account and being able to take 5 dollars out whenever I want, sounds pretty nice right?
Now, this piece isn’t me telling how to parent your children, I get my first crack at parenting come late November. This should be a reassurance to you to invest in your children even more. If you’re reading this and you attend a gym, see if they have a Kids Club. See if the trainers or coaches are willing to work with children. Fitness is fun, fitness is hard work. Sports or no sports, fitness will be available for their lifetime. Set the foundation.
Find a gym with a Kids Club near you. Turn 5 cents into 5 dollars every day, and then watch your kid snatch more than you right in front of you with perfect form.