July 09, 2021 4 min read
There's no question, regular physical activity can help your daughter feel more energetic, improve her focus and promote a better outlook on life. We all encourage exercise and activity, and look for ways to get our kids moving, but what if she asks you, “Can I join a gym?”
For young girls, tweens and teens, there’s no right time to start going to the gym - although many of them won't allow kids to join under the age of 10-12.
Finding an active pursuit that she enjoys can take time and patience (and a lot of wasted fees and uniforms!) but it's worth the investment to land on a sport or fitness regime she can dedicate herself to.
If she decides the gym is the way she wants to raise her sweat, there are a lot of benefits that come from the combination of cardio and strength training options, as well as the fitness-loving community that a gym can provide.
Cardiovascular training burns energy and improves fitness levels. Cardio makes the heart strong – it increases blood flow, increases lung capacity, reduces stress and improves bone density.
Getting your daughter involved in cardio activities doesn’t have to be something she eventually turns her nose up at. In fact, she’s probably already participating in a range of cardio activities already. Getting her and her friends involved in running, swimming, walking or just general play are all acts of cardio can have amazing benefits for her overall health and wellbeing. The gym is just another way she get a cardio benefit.
Regularly participating in strength training builds muscle, and improves bone density and strength.
For young girls, tweens and teens, strength training is safe, but should be done under supervision and instructed as it's not recommended as their only form of exercise.
Consider educating your daughter around strength training and starting her off with low-impact strength exercises such as pushups, sit-ups and squats. You can always include resistance bands to increase the intensity. If your daughter wants to include weights into her routine, keep them light and slowly work up as she gets stronger.
Even among the selfie takers and the grunting lifters, there's a sense of belonging and community that can come from a gym that's difficult to find outside of sporting teams and clubs. Gyms often invest a lot of time in developing this community kind of environment with friendly competitions and social events like walks, BBQs, involvement in fun runs and other events. If you're a member of the same gym, these can become great family activities to do together with your gym tribe.
Gyms are melting pots of people from all walks of life - young, old; different shapes and sizes and all ethnicities and preferences which can be a great window into society's diversity as well as showing your girl that it 'fitness' doesn't look like it does on Instagram.
If you’re looking for exercises to get your daughter involved in, there are a range of cardio and strength options that are fun and fulfilling, both in and out of the gym.
Start her on home workouts
For young girls and tweens, visiting a gym may be out of reach for age reasons or the cost might be out of budget.
If your child is showing genuine interest in participating in gym workouts, there are great homeworkout videos you can watch together to implement into your routine. Consider YouTube personalities Sarah’s Day, The Fitness Marshall, Yoga with Adriene or our very own 15-Minute Family Movement Sessions (there are 20 of them to choose from!)
Try a specialised gym program just for teens
For teens, visiting the gym can be a fun and exciting experience, especially when done with friends. Gyms such as Fitness First Australia offer teen programs along with F45, so consider introducing your teen to these when she asks about attending a gym.
SO... CAN SHE JOIN THE GYM?
It can be hard to work through what's pressure and conformity and what's a healthy interest in fitness but either way, when she asks, "Can I join the gym?", it's an opportunity to be her support as she wrestles society's insidious beauty standards or to help her establish a healthy routine and passion for movement.
Working with her to ensure she wants to go for the right reasons is the clincher.
STRUGGLE VS SUPER POWER
Supporting a girl to develop a love of exercise and the wellbeing it brings can be a lifelong gift. On the flip side, if she's struggling through gym sessions purely to burn calories or get 'insta-toned', that's something to nip in the bud early.
Have a discussion with her about how she can develop a healthy, self-loving mindset that motivates her to go to the gym to strengthen and reward her body, and prioritise her health.
This kind of thinking breeds confidence... and confidence is a super power.
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