I was reading an article on Yahoo! Sports today about a 10-year-old who calls himself “The Workout Kid”.
The author of the article, Eric Adelson, knows that a 4th grade workout machine can be cause for concern, but says C.J. Senter is different.
With nightmares from my first sighting, years ago, of a child bodybuilder firmly entrenched in my brain, and even more skeptical after seeing a photo of C.J. rocking a 6-pack harder than most guys in their twenties, I continued to read.
Granted, when most people hear “child prodigy,” they rightfully raise an eyebrow and wonder who is pulling the strings. Add a workout DVD by a fourth-grader with sculpted muscles to the mix and “cute” can turn to “concerning.” But it turns out the story behind “C.J. The Workout Kid” is a lot more inspiring than insidious.
Inspiring? Inspiring me to call Child Protective Services, maybe, but I don’t know how inspired I am by a 10-year-old obsessed with his muscles.
C.J. began working out at the age of 5 when his football coach told the team to exercise. As C.J. tells it, he did a few push-ups and sit-ups and loved it. He’s been working out ever since, doing his own routine three times a week. He even teaches a class of mostly older kids at a nearby gym in Locus Grove, Georgia.
Sounds a little obsessive for a 10-year-old but C.J. tells Adelson he loves being fit, he doesn’t diet, and he doesn’t bench press because “it’s not good for kids”.
Dad’s gotta be pushing C.J., right? Carlos Senter says nope, he’s spent most of C.J.’s life in shock, beginning when the little guy climbed out of his crib at 7 months old.
C.J.’s workout DVDs are in such demand dad hired a PR rep but claims he gives most of the discs away for free to help encourage kids to workout. Wait. Did he just say “PR rep”? He sure did. He must need the agent to help him hand out all those free DVDs. Still, Carlos says as long as C.J. is happy, he’s happy. C.J.’s ultimate goal is to play for the NFL and it looks like he’s well on his way, having been named MVP for the state of Georgia as an 8-and-under.
I’ll admit, the article portrays C.J. in a really solid light. Not at all like this kid, called Little Hercules, who really freaks me out. And then there’s 7-year-old Giuliano Stroe, who, as MSNBC reports, “spends much of his playtime in his family’s gym, lifting weights and toning his muscle-ripped prepubescent body.” He is the proud holder of two world records for walking on his hands with a medicine ball between his legs… um… okay? And the highest number of “air push-ups” which you’ll see in the Youtube clip below.
Guliano claims his son became “obsessed” with working out when he was 2. He’s also making money off his son now. Tokyo-based Fuji Television Network paid him 1,000 (roughly $1,400) for a 30-second clip of his son in action. He declined to speak to Bloomberg Businessweek because, he says, he only does TV interviews now.
Can you say SUPER douche? There is also Youtube clip of Guliano bench pressing twice his weight, which, as C.J. The Workout Kid can tell you, is not a good thing for a child to be doing. Also, if that video isn’t evidence of child abuse, I don’t know what is.
Apparently the Stroes are icons in a rapidly growing child bodybuilding world. Taylor Hamilton, a senior research analyst for market research firm IBISWorld tells MSNBC, “Youth memberships have become one of the fastest growth areas for the fitness club industry.” Over the past five years pre-adolescent and teen memberships have increased by 2.9 percent annually — and the 6-to-11 age category has almost doubled since 2005.
Jeff Martin, director of youth programming for CrossFit Brand X tells MSNBC that his business has doubled in the past three years and most of the new clients are underage. “We have kids coming into our gym now who are 2½, 3 years old.” Martin doesn’t set an age requirement, he just “caters to people who have the money”. The mini-muscleheads work out to compete in a growing circuit of national bodybuilding events.
It’s hard to criticize the movement when there is an epidemic of obese children sweeping the nation and yet, it’s just gross. C.J. may appear to have it all together but something’s not right when a 10-year-old is sporting a 6-pack and worrying about how ripped he is. Guliano’s dad is no better than the horrible Toddlers & Tiaras moms that spray tan the skin and bleach the teeth of their toddler daughters. There is no way in hell all that exertion can be good for growing bones, not to mention the obsession with the perfect physique. Let’s just hope TLC doesn’t catch wind of the growing trend…
What do you think: Are these America’s Most Talented Kids?