For the first time ever I saw a child in the commercial gym where I do most of my workouts. My initial reaction was like a safety alert as our gym offers child care and so it really got my attention seeing a little person so close to the free weight area. I'm immediately thinking "child on the loose!" Probably a combination of my nursing background, being a mother and now a grandmother. I'm basically the safety officer of my family, along with my son-in-law the fearless firefighter.
But turns out she was with a woman I assume was her mother, and both were working with a trainer I've not seen too many times until recently. I'm guessing she's about 8 years old. She was a cute girl with pretty brown hair wearing an Under Armour heat tech shirt that was way too small, only emphasizing her weight problem. The trainer had her mother on the back extension machine (hope he didn't put the child on it!) as I was just finishing up some hanging leg raises for some final ab work. My husband confirmed he saw the trainer working with both of them but we left a few minutes later and I did not get to observe anything further.
I cannot get this little girl out of my mind. Or her mother. Or the trainer for that matter. What is he teaching them? What kind of program will he put them on? What was the trigger point that prompted the mother to seek some help? (The mother was out of shape and overweight, but not obese). On one hand it's exciting to see a mother and very young daughter working together to try to dig out of this problem, and on the other hand it really saddens me that it comes to this. There is so much they need to know and I hope that trainer is equipped and motivated to help them.
I never had a weight problem as a kid. I went through glasses and had braces on my teeth for a period of time. I was not a cute kid and was somewhat nerdy, but I never had to add the literal physical and mental burden of fat to the list. I was a skinny tomboy. I spent my time riding my bike, walking the dog, climbing trees, digging the dirt, doing cartwheels, playing kickball and running just because I liked the wind in my face. I did not grow up with athletic parents and never played an organized sport. I was of the generation that gained weight after a few years of marriage. My husband and kids are very athletic and have not had to battle the weight issue.
What is it like for kids now? Can we imagine how cruel it might feel as a child to be teased for being fat ? It's not a new problem, but somehow this quick event triggered some serious emotion for me about it.
Where do fitness and balanced nutrition fit in the priorities of families, especially those with small children? I'm afraid it's not only low on the list, it's not even on the radar for many. We've heard the issues of TV, video games, lack of recess, schools that suffer lack of adequate resources for appropriate programs, sedentary parents, etc. But what are we going to do about it? When are we going to realize that we're not just destroying our own bodies, but we're setting the example for and contributing to a life of physical destruction for our very own children?
Kudos to the woman for getting herself and the child to the gym and making the effort to seek some real help. I hope so bad I see them again!