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Personal Trainers for Toddlers?

Exercise is good, but do little kids really need to join gyms and hire personal trainers?

According to the Contra Costa Times, around the Bay Area, kids as young as 3 are “learning some of the same exercises — modified for their ages — their parents are doing.” They are working with personal trainers, taking yoga classes, doing Zumba and even signing up for kiddie boot camp.

“Parents want their kids to be introduced to a gym and have the tools for exercising later on,” Robert Jackson, personal trainer and co-owner of the gym Forma, told Contra Costa Times. Forma has about 50 children, ages 6 and up, as clients. Their parents fork over up to $75 an hour for one-on-one training sessions.

With all the talk of the childhood obesity epidemic, some wealthy parents are willing to pay money to make sure their kids get the activity they need.

What ever happened to good old-fashioned playing? Bike riding, playing tag, and hula hooping?

In some cases, parents foot the bill for professional training so that their kids could get an edge in team sports. Other times, parents hope that having a trainer will help boost their child’s self esteem.

“We’re giving him all the tools he needs to succeed,” said dad Nelson Galambos, who signed his son Zakery up for personal training to help him excel at ice hockey. “Not only does it keep him busy and out of trouble, he excels. It’s a wise investment.”

Some parents have the mistaken impression that it’s safer for their kids to exercise as a gym than play outside.

Mom Staci Thompson, who used to teach physical education, said that when she was a kid, she used to play outside with friends all day and her parents would leave the door unlocked. Now she brings her 3-year-old daughter Sierra to the gym to exercise, noting that she locks the door as soon as she gets home. “It’s just not the same as it used to be out there,” said Thompson.

With cuts to school’s phys ed programs and the disturbing rise in childhood obesity, are drastic measures needed to get kids moving? Or is this just a misguided effort guided by privileged parents who are making their kids neurotic?

What do you think? Would you sign your toddler up for personal training sessions?

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/snapeverything/

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