Gyms for tubby toddlers

12:0AM, Sep 29th 2011

Pint-sized exercise rowers may be coming to a child care centre near you

Image: Thinkstock

Picture a child care centre, lots of under five year olds running around, sand pits, books and toys, paint easels and teeny tiny tables and chairs, but can you visualise the room filled with child-sized gym equipment?

According to Angela Camardi from Playsafe kids, childcare centres in an attempt to combat childhood obesity are encouraging exercise and fitness by setting up little toddler gyms with age-appropriate fitness equipment.

"Everyone's worried about childhood obesity. It has to be supervised, and it's child-safe, so I don't see how that can be different from a (slippery) slide," Camardi said.

It's true, childhood obesity in Australia is on the rise and if kids are moving more (and eating less) it has to be a good thing, right? But as some child centres are charging membership fees for toddlers, as the The Daily Telegraph reports, some equipment companies say, "mini-gyms for toddlers is going to far and are potentially dangerous if not monitored"?

Camardi said that there are also plenty of parents of children aged between three and five who order the gym equipment from Playsafe.kids.com.au to set up in their own home, where there is no joining fee. You can buy pint-sized exercise rowers, a weight bench with 2kg weights, exercise bike and pony, air walkers and non-motorised treadmills.

As children love to imitate their parents by watching everything they do, if this is the way parents choose to exercise, children should embrace their own machines. However for many, having the space for a home gym, or the money to spend on gym memberships is not possible. So it goes without saying that parents exercising by walking, biking, running should involve their kids.

Regular trips to the park or oval, playing games like skipping, hopscotch, hide-and-seek are just as likely to get their heart rate up as well as yours. You can even do weight resistance exercises like push-ups and chin-ups on playground equipment, and it's free.

At what age would you allow your child a gym membership? Enter your comments below.

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