What grinds my gears about kids joining the gym with little to no coaching or proper supervision is that strength training is a skill like any other. Kids are still growing and have no experience using weights safely and don’t fully understand the principles of their development (physiology and loading parameters).
I’ve seen teens deadlift incorrectly, bench press and back squat well beyond what they are capable of. This sets them up for injury. During the teen years, boys mainly, have major growth spurts and their body awareness drops. They look like a wet noodle when they train (not good). Girls have more flexibility but lack the body awareness needed to help them to develop core and overall strength.
We as a society discredit the need to be taught and educated on how to move in the gym. This has been influenced by ‘wives-tales’ and a societal system not having adequate access to strength training programs for youth that isn’t Personal training (which costs $$$).
We put our kids through 13 years of school to get educated, so why wouldn’t we educate them about quality movement and getting them stronger?
We talk about the growing obesity rates in Australia yet we don’t allow kids to start strength training at a young age.
What I see that needs to happen to make a difference is:
Coaches need to develop programs to allow kids to train under proper supervision in small groups (>8).
Insurance companies need to stop charging coaches and fitness businesses extra to train youths when they’re supervised under qualified and experienced coaches. This holds them back paying the premium to get the appropriate cover.
Schools should bring in programs that allow strength coaches to teach them for a sustained period of time (2 terms). This will allow the kids’ interest to begin to rise in strength training and see the development they make from the program.
Parents should invest (not a cost) in their kids when it comes to strength training development. It will pay off later down the track as their children are less likely to suffer soft tissue injuries. This will keep them out of the doctors, physios, time out from their sport, etc.
Let’s look after them now so they can look after themselves better in the future!