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Teaching Aerobics Classes to Kids
--by Muriel Webb
Teaching aerobics to kids presents a unique set of challenges. While the class structure is generally the same as an adult class - Warm-up, Aerobic session,
Cool Down, Toning, and Stretch - you have to remember that kids tire a little easier and get bored a little quicker. The key is to keep the class fun for them, as well as educational.
Use current, recognizable dance music to get them interested. Throw in some dance moves, but nothing too complicated or daring. Use the add-on method to build
an aerobic routine. During each class, try to throw in a move they learned in a previous class so the routine feels familiar and they feel comfortable. When adding on new moves, walk them through it slowly at first, then pick up the pace. Once you are done with the aerobic session and have cooled down, move on to toning. Before toning, give the kids five minutes to get a drink and prepare for the next step.
In toning, perform many of the same exercises adults use. Arm circles, leg lifts, and ab curls, for example. The only difference is intensity of each move and the number of repetitions per move. Since children don't really need to work on developing "big" muscles, try 8 reps and 2 sets of each exercise. Also, don't forget to tell them what each exercise is for and give specific examples of why they should do those exercises. Many children play sports, so be sure tell them how the exercises will enhance their sport performance. You'd be surprised how excited that gets them!
When you move on to the floorwork (abs and legs), check that they have the right form so that no injuries will occur. And again, let them know the purpose of each exercise and the benefits.
When class is over, ask for questions. They usually have a lot of them. Some
about nutrition or others about daily exercise. Since children are often in different development stages at different ages, be very careful not to make any suggestions about "diets" or specific exercises. What may work for one child will not work for another - but they'll all be listening. Give them general advice about nutrition and exercise, then speak to them personally about any specific problems.
--Muriel Webb is a YMCA of the USA certified instructor/coordinator from the South City YMCA in St. Louis, MO.
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