Monday, September 6, 2010

Play is the Way Choulex Fitness Programme

Starting on October 6th I will be running a youth fitness programme in the Salle de Rhythmique in Choulex, next to the Mairie. The programme will focus primarily on making fitness fun for children and helping them to discover physical learning through throwing, climbing, jumping, running and crawling. They will learn aspects of working together in a group and for those children that mainly speak French, it allows them to improve upon their English speaking skills!

The course is for children from the ages of 6-9 years old and will run every Wednesday at 9am to 10am, except on holidays. There are only 10 spots available for this inagural programme so don't hesitate to sign up your child or children below!

Monday, June 21, 2010

La Chat Kermesse 2010 Fitness Challenge Champions

On Saturday the 19th of June 2010 La Chat had its annual Kermesse. The ill advised weather reports didn't keep people from coming out and enjoying the food, great atmosphere, people and festivities. I was fortunate enough to be invited by the lovely ladies at the PTA, Linda Spencer and Paige Finger, to run a Fitness Challenge Booth. We had over 40 kids participant to be the 2010 Kermesse Fitness Challenge Champion in their respected event.

There were three diffent activities set up based on age groups. For the 6-9 year old we had an obstacle course which consisted of a crab walk, jumps over cones, a ball toss and finally a sprint to the finish. The 11-14 year old category had a triple standing broad jump for their event and this was the event with the most participants. Finally for the 15-18 year olds we had a press up competition. Participants were to try to get as many press ups as they could within 60 sec. This competition also got some participants in the 11-14 category that wanted to test their press up strength endurance and proved to be very exciting at the end of the day.

All in all it was a great day with the rain holding off until the end of the day. I wanted to thank all the kids that participated for their great attitudes and effort. Congratulations to the Fitness Challenge Champions which are listed below along with the following top 2 best efforts.

15-18 yr old Boys Press Up Champion
Ewan Ogilvie with 38 press ups in 60 seconds

11-14 yr old Boys Press Up Co-Champions
Luke Smith and Alex Hughes with 40 press ups in 60 seconds

The next two runners up in this age category were Daniel Zito with 34 press ups and Adrian Alejos with 31 press ups.

Our next event was the 11-14 Triple Broad Jump:

There was a lot of great competition but the overall winner was Lewis Thomas with a jump of 7m 29cm.

The runners-up were Marc Rolink with a jump of 6m 84cm, Erik Bergquist with a jump of 6m 81cm and finally Daniel Wariag with a jump of 6m 80cm. I just wanted to mention a great jump by an 11 year old boy name Sam Oswald of 6m 25cm. Great job guys.

Our last category was the 6-10 year old Obstacle Course.

Our Girls Champion was Kiah Williams with a great time of 20.68 seconds
with Jessica Stanton (20.88 seconds) and Rosie Ashworth (23.07 seconds) very close behind.

Our Boys Champion was Clemens Finger with another excellent time of 22.90 with James Goodwin (23.38) and Alberto Ferro (29.45) hot on Clemens heels.

Congratulations once again to all the participants. If you hadn't received your certificate please contact Linda Spencer or Paige Finger.

I hope that I can come back again next year and see all the great kids having fun and crown the new Fitness Challenge Champions!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Youth Fitness Challenge for the Kermesse at La Châtaigneraie

Just letting you all know that on Saturday June 19th I will be at La Châtaigneraie International School in Founex for their annual Kermesse.  I will have a Fitness Challenge booth set up with different activities for all different age groups:  Push Up Challenge for 15-18yr olds, an Obstacle Course for the 6-10 year olds and a triple broad jump for distance for the 11-14 year old children.  I might also have some group activities/game session planned throughout the day to get everyone moving and feeling great.  If you are in the area please come by and enjoy all the festivities on a day that promises a great time for the whole family. Email me at for more information. Hope to see you there!

Helping Our Children Find Their Way!

My lovely wife was driving in town yesterday where she came across a blind man in the middle of the street. He was tapping his cane on the road, frantically searching for the sidewalk. He wasn't in a cross walk but literally out in the road with a bus coming from the opposite direction of my wife and a bus behind my wife. Needless to say they were sandwiched between some traffic. My wife immediately put on her hazard lights got out of the car and proceeded to guide this blind man to the safety of the sidewalk. He was so appreciative of her help and he continued on his way. With traffic still waiting my wife got into her car and continued on with her day.

She told me this story today and we both immediately thought how that situation is a metaphor for many life situations. Let me explain using the example of teachers and coaches.

We can all lose our way in life and need some help and guidance from a helping hand. Someone who just comes into our lives and is willing to hold back buses and traffic until they help you to get where you need to go.

Children can lose their way just as easily as adults especially if they have had negative experiences in the past with teachers/coaches or adults in authority. Many times kids get pressured into participating in sport by their parents or teachers because of several different reasons. They might lack confidence, they could be overweight, it is the sport that their parents did when they were kids. But what is it that our kids want. Do we take the time to ask them what they want to do? To instill a lifetime love of fitness it is critical that we give our kids the right guidance into activities that are fun and physically and mentally engaging.

Forcing a child to do a sport or activity that they don't want to do could have long term negative effects. If they get a bad taste in their mouth from an experience they had with a bad coach or teacher then they could be put off from participating in physical activity in the future.

Let us take for example two classification of kids that participate in activities which I learned from Brian Grasso founder of the IYCA: Athletes/children that have Low Motivation/High Skill and those that have Low/Motivation Low Skill. Both of these classifications of athletes are more than likely forced by parents to participate in an activity that they might or might not want to participate it.

The Low Motivation/High Skill child has great skills and technical ability and things come easy to them and might not feel like they have been challenged. Our goal with this type of kid is to challenge them through inspiration. Inspire them to do great things and make sure they feel like they are being challenge in each activity.

The Low Motivation/Low Skill child needs a bit of a different approach. These children are the quiet ones that don't speak much and kind of hide in the corner. They might not have much ability and thus lack confidence in themselves. If we try to get these kids going by raising our voice, regardless if it is positive or negative, they tend to make themselves as small as possible. If we use a direct approach with these kids and make them feel comfortable by speaking directly to them and not singling them out of the group, they will feel more at ease. You need to take the personal approach with these kids.

Eventually we want all children to have High Motivation/High Skill so they can enjoy physical activity and a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

We can, metaphorically speaking, guide our children to the sidewalks of physical and emotional development and not be like those teachers/coaches in the past that couldn't help them, i.e. the cars that would beep at the blind man to get out of the road or to signal him to look out but not deliver any meaningful help!

This experience has re-emphasised to me the importance of being a positive guiding factor in the life of others, especially our children!

And in the end we are happy to have helped these athletes/children succeed in their long term development but sad to see them leave us when they enter the next stage of their life. Such was the feeling my wife had when she left the blind man, "happy to have helped him but sad to see him go, potentially facing the next street crossing alone."

Go Stop Some Traffic and Guide!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Drugging Children

I just saw a frightening video the other day about children in Foster Care systems being given pharmaceutical drugs for all sorts of strange reasons.  Some of the kids were even as young as 3-5 years old!  This is a must watch video.  The more awareness we have the more we can create change.   Just because children don't have parents doesn't mean they can be treated like lab rats!

We would love to have your comments!

FITfully Yours,

Friday, June 4, 2010

"No Yelling on the Bus!"

If you are familiar with the movie Billy Madison then you recognize the photo on the left of Chris Farley, the bus driver that is fed up with his job and takes out his anger on the children on the bus!  Even though his role in the movie is hilarious, this character seems to be a more constant figure in the lives of our children.  Especially in the realm of sports and fitness.

Lately, I have witnessed many situations in sport where kids are being shouted out by their coach, or even more sad by their parents, for failing to live up to their demands. For instance, making a mistake within a competition, not performing a drill correctly or not paying attention and talking when the coach is talking. All of these things have merited a proper tongue lashing.  But what point are we trying to get across to our children by yelling at them.  Are we trying to frighten them into compliance?  Does yelling really send the right signals to a child?  NO. My belief is that it clearly does not have a positive effect.

By building up the confidence of our children through inspiration and encouragement we give them the tools, (to steal a line from Dave Schmitz a.k.a. the Band Man,) to "make their best better."  This is a more positive way to approach a child not just in athletics but in all areas of their lives.  If a mistake is made in a drill or during a match then perhaps the coach should look to themselves first and see how they could have done better in preparing the child to avoid the mistake.  Sometimes coaches throw a whole lot of drills at a child and show it to them once or twice, yet expect the child to perform the drill perfectly without having taught them the base skills to ensure their success in the drill.  By improving our coaching/teaching skills we directly improve our students/athletes skills.

We also need to get past the "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" mentality and teach our kids that having fun and putting forth a great effort rates higher than getting a trophy.

A child interprets incessant yelling as pure negativity and eventually it won't have the scare tactic effect on them anymore. But what it will do is possibly fill them with anger, resentment and a host of other negative feelings toward that person who constantly berates them.  As an adult how effectively would you do your job if your boss was constantly yelling at you when you messed up.  Is that an effective way to communicate?  Wouldn't you respond better to some constructive criticism and be more inspired to learn from your mistake and do better next time.  This is the same approach we need to have when teaching children and adolescents anything new, especially sports.  By creating an atmosphere where kids feel safe, i.e. not threatened by a dominating adult figure, and where they know that you have their best interests at heart, you have already been successful in opening up the proper channels to let effective learning blossom.

I just wanted to end this post today with a great quote I read from Angie Sage:

"...yelling doesn't make a thing any more possible."

FITfully Yours,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Art of Play

This post was inspired by a few great articles from Brian Grasso and the IYCA (Interanational Youth and Conditioning Association) on their blog.

When it comes to kids we as adults have a tendency to over coach or be over protective of our children.  We as humans learn through our experiences physically and emotionally.

Kids learn how to develop their neuromuscular system through trial and error.  Just watch a baby try to learn how to walk!  They will experiment with different ways of trying to walk until they find the right amount of stability and balance to create movement.  Babies have built in programming to tell them what they need to do at certain stages of their growing period.  If one of these stages is skipped then it could have effects later on down the line.  We must crawl before we can walk.  The same applies on through adolescence.

From a young age children need to be encouraged to play by pushing, pulling, kicking, not other people :), and throwing.  The playground is an ideal place for this development to occur.  I was at a playground the other day and had a great time watching a young girl discover the strength and balance of her body by pulling herself up the top of a playground apparatus.  One other child attempted to do the same but was quickly stopped by an intervening parent.  I understand the dangers of some of these places but an overprotective parent could prevent their child from receiving the right physical stimulus to develop into happy, well functioning adults.

Youth fitness and conditioning needs to be a long term process.  You can't just skip certain developmental processes.  You must build a great foundation and then add onto that solid foundation.  Talking in architectural language, you can't build a second floor without first building the ground level and first floor.  The same reference can be applied to academics.  It isn't possible to all of the sudden take Calculus without first learning the fundamentals of general math and all the subsequent levels preceding Calculus.  Going from 3rd grade to 12th grade doesn't work because the child is unprepared for the academic work load at that level.

In Youth Fitness, having a 6 week "make you faster and stronger" programme shouldn't be the "be all end all" in their training programme.  Children need to build their base fitness levels and then layer skills on top of that to make them successful in any activity they wish to pursue, sports related or not.  Some of these skills include, balance, agility, coordination, spatial awareness and strength.  A weak foundation in architecture and in youth fitness development, will eventually lead to a crumbling building/body later down the road.

So the take away point is that we should place an emphasis on nurturing the stages of youth development and not to rush them or delay them in any shape or form.  By building a strong foundation of fitness skills in the lives of our children we are helping them to create a successful future as active, happy, injury resistant adults.

FITfully Yours,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Obese Kids Grow Up To Be Obese Adults

I am sure that you have heard many times and even said the following phrase yourself, " our children are our future." This phrase reminds me of the movie "Children of Men" which is set in an apocolyptic future where the youngest person on the planet just died at the age of 18. There are absolutely no children on the earth due to an infertility disease spread throughout human kind. There is no hope for a future in that world. Can you imagine a world without children? It seems a very unhappy place.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), "globally, in 2010 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 42 million. Close to 35 million of these are living in developing countries." That is a staggering statistic. Overweight children under the age of 5! This is not a good start to their young lives and puts them at a high risk to develop heart disease and diabetes at an earlier age, which could eventually lead to an early grave. The good news is nearly all of these cases of obesity can be prevented by including two critical elements in their lives, proper nutrition and increased exercise/activity.

In terms of nutrition, children, especially young children, are subjects of their environment and eat what their parents give them. Therefore it is the responsibility of the parents to provide a sound nutritional regimen for their children, which in turn educates them to eat well when they become adults. Many of us develop eating habits from the environment that we grew up in. My personal experience in America was one of cheap fast food and growing up with two other brothers who battled with me over the last piece of chicken/pizza/pie etc.. My mom did cook some great things but we didn't have a diet high in fruits and vegetables or whole wheat grains and nuts. So some of the habits that I have had to change over the years have definitely been portion control and eating fruits and vegetables at every meal. However I was very active in both sports and outdoor play. Cutting out sugary drinks such as soda is a great start to getting kids on the right track nutritionally. The sugar content in some of those drinks are off the charts and when several are consumed during the day it is a recipe for obesity. The main point that we should realize is that kids and adults need the same things nutritionally, so if a parent is eating an unhealthy diet it is more than likely that their children are as well. Kids should be eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. One common complaint that we hear from parents about veggies is "but my kids don't like vegetables." It takes about 12 encounters with a food before we really can decide whether we like it or not. For example, if your child doesn't like cooked broccoli then experiment with another way of cooking it. You can also add a little sauce to disguise the taste,however, by including those fruits and vegetables at every meal your kids will get a good start and the more color on the plate the better. And that doesn't mean ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise:)

Kids these days are living a more sedentary life and are moving less than their parents and grandparents did. On average children need to be moving at least 60 minutes a day in activites of regular, moderate- to vigorous-intensity. With the rise in technology we find kids sitting in front of computers and television screens more than they are outside playing a sport or on the playground. Not a whole lot is being done by schools about increasing activity. Sure, kids have the occasional P.E. class but 45 minutes once a week is not enough. Humans are built to run, jump, climb, crawl, and throw, on a daily basis and from an early age. Taking part in a sport at an early age is obviously fun for the competitive child but it is the playground where they will achieve their greatest physical benefits. What child does not enjoy going to the playground or park to play and run? It is often the parents who deny them this enjoyment because they are too tired to go outside or simply cannot be bothered. Unfortunately we live in a world where we fear for our childrens safety and it is sometimes a lot easier to have them indoors watching TV than in an environment where they may get hurt .

By instilling a sense of excitement and energy about health fitness and exercise into our children, we are helping to lay a foundation for a long and healthy life. If we as adults provide the right environment for that to happen our children will thrive as happy healthy adults and thus make the bleak future offered by the film "Children of Men" nothing but a fictional story.

FITfully Yours,