It’s a trend that we probably first noticed with the bodybuilding kid C.J. Senters, continued on with the Fierce Five (median age of 16) and now is spreading to the triathlon circuit: young athletes seem to be making their mark on more serious athletic events than ever. Clearly, it’s not just team sports either. The number of teens participating in road races and triathlons continues to grow, according to USA Triathlon.
To learn more about this trend, and how students balance their coursework with their workouts, we spoke with Fiona Chesley, a 15-year-old who aims to complete her 18th triathlon at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 16 to benefit the pediatric cancer research program at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Most kids stick with team sports like basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, etc. What drew you to triathlons?
I’ve played many sports, but none seemed right. I enjoy competing in sports with a finish line. There isn’t a coach on the sidelines telling you if you’re right or wrong—it’s all you. You’re the one who has to find all of the determination deep within and put it to use.
What does your training regimen look like, and how do you fit it in with school and your social life?
It helps that racing is a family affair for me. Typically, I swim with my stepmother and run with my dad when he gets home around 6 p.m. I also go to the YMCA and do weight and ab workouts when I have time. Sometimes, I train and bike with the Cal Tri team.
Time for the lightning round…Fill in the blank:
- My role model is: “Chrissie Wellington, the four-time world Ironman champion. She is a great triathlete and has inspired me to do an Ironman someday!”
- My top motivation trick: “When I’m not in the mood to exercise, I play long games of Ultimate Frisbee with friends. It’s loads of fun and an easy way sneak in a workout.”
- My go-to pre-race meal: “The night before a triathlon, my family has our favorite pasta dish: fusilli pasta with butter, ham, peas and mozzarella cheese.”
- My dream competition: “I aim to do my best at every race, but I eventually want to compete in the triathlon at the Olympics.”
More from FITNESS:
- 8 Ways to Get Your Kids Fit
- Is There Such a Thing As Too Fit, Too Soon?
- Run With Me: Get Your Kids on the Path to Fitness
Watch this video and try to keep your jaw off the floor! Claudi and Giuliano Stroe, ages 5 and 7, might just be the strongest grade school kids we’ve ever seen. While we feel accomplished if we can knock out a few standard pull-ups, these two adorable boys from Romania are completing the so-called “human flag” (picture them hanging horizontally from a floor-to-ceiling bar) and doing a pull-up motion from that position.
Like this 10-year-old bodybuilder we told you about last summer, this pair trains…and they train hard. They began exercising when they were 2 and now hit the weights with their dad for two hours every morning.
Which brings us to today’s hot topic discussion: Do you think that it’s healthy and inspiring for these kids to start so young? We’ve all seen the startling childhood obesity statistics, and these kids are certainly not following that trend. But there is something to be said about letting active kids be kids (not mini-adults) with their jump rope rhymes, Capture the Flag games and bike rides—away from the gym.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Now tell us: Do you find these fit kids to be motivational wellness all-stars or do you think it’s too much too soon?
There’s a lot of talk about hearts lately, seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day. Here at FITNESS, we’re strong believers that if you take care of your ticker from an early age, you’ll set your whole body on the right track for the rest of your life. But an interesting report recently published in the journal Pediatrics got us thinking: Should these healthy habits involve more than serving nutritious family dinners and making exercise a priority as a family?
If several medical professionals quoted in the report and in The New York Times have their way, cholesterol screenings may soon be the norm for anyone age 9 and older. They claim that pinpointing genetic and lifestyle risks (family history and childhood obesity, among others) for high cholesterol at a young age can increase life expectancy and promote healthier habits.
But opponents are worried that making these screenings mandatory, rather than just suggesting them for high-risk youth, would be more than just expensive for the health care system. False positives can occur and some fear that doctors may try to “treat” obesity and high cholesterol with a pill rather than promoting healthier ways to manage weight struggles.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Now tell us: Do you think pediatricians should screen all kids, from 9 and up, for high cholesterol? Or do you think tests will lead excess stress from false positives and over-medication?
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Of course pizza, wings and guac will be in the spotlight this weekend, but who knew Super Bowl Sunday is the most popular day of the year for carrots? — The Wall Street Journal
- It’s not too late to make a difference on National Wear Red Day (today!). Send a free virtual Valentine and Macy’s will donate $2 to the American Heart Association. — Go Red For Women / Macy’s
- Score! Try this fun exercise challenge to stay active like the players on the Super Bowl squads. — SparkPeople
- Diet, exercise and body image can be “weighty” topics to discuss with youngsters. Here are a few tips to do so compassionately. — Fit Bottomed Girls
- Don’t forget how awesome you are. “The best predictor of future success is past success.” — MizFit
- Two women are taking a 60-day challenge to go without makeup and primping. Could you do it? — Healthy Tipping Point
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Written by Alexa Cortese, web intern
We love ways to combine fitness and charity, so when we heard about Konami’s second annual DanceDanceRevolution competition in West Virginia, we had to get the scoop on what the event was all about. Aside from raising awareness on the fight against childhood obesity, a Guinness World Record was broken, and students walked away with up to $2,500 in scholarships!
Carrie Swidecki, a second grade teacher from California broke the record for the longest marathon on a dance and rhythm game with an incredible time of 15 hours, 17 minutes and 44 seconds. Students and other participants had fun while staying active, which solidified the main theme of the event: Helping children to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.
Those who organized the tournament hope that their efforts will help to lower the number of overweight and obese children in this country, an epidemic that has steadily risen in recent years. The good news is that kids who attended the event now realize that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, but can be extremely fun and entertaining, as well!
Now tell us: How do you help your kids get active?
We know that all of you moms out there put one thing first: your children. You want them to be strong, fit and healthy. So why not take them along on your next fun run?
Skirt Sports, the creator of the original fitness skirt for women, has now launched the Skirt Sports Girls collection to help outfit your daughters so you can have fun together! The cute designs and bright colors inspire kids to be active with the women they look up to, and with phrases like “Catch Me if You Can” and “Future Marathon Runner,” they’re sure to strike up a conversation!
The apparel is reasonably priced between $30 and $45, and you can choose between the Wonder Kid Tee, Happy Kid Skirt and Wonder Kid Dress, all of which emphasize the playful side that you want your daughters to embrace.
Head over to their website to check out the new line of fun, fit clothes—then get moving together!
More ways to inspire fit youngsters:
Football season may be over, but that doesn’t stop our favorite NFL players from being active for a good cause. Through the NFL Network’s Keep Gym in School program, physical education programs in local schools receive grants to provide better classes to students. So far, the program has awarded more than $500,000 to 45 schools nationwide.
This year, the NFL Network also named its first PE Teacher of the Year. The recipient is Dana Griffith, a middle school physical education and health teacher at Berkmar Middle School in Lilburn, Georgia. Ms. Griffith was given this award for her efforts in getting the whole community involved in their children’s fitness. We talked to Ms. Griffith and got tips to inspire everyone to be more active:
How do you keep phys ed in your school fun and engaging?
Students set their own fitness and sports goals which are measured against their own progress. We show them how to monitor their heart rates for they can practice what they learn in class wherever they are. My students voted to have a fitness center available where they can work out and play before and after class. It has a Wii, Playstation and other games so that they have fun while exercising. If it’s not fun, the kids won’t keep doing it.
Not everyone’s a fan of sports. How do you get your kids involved?
One of my favorite sports is Lacrosse, so that’s one of the sports we play. Unlike basketball or football, lacrosse is new to most students, so the playing field is even and no one feels left out.
How can parents keep kids active when they get home from school?
Fitness has to be a priority for the whole family. Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to find free or low-cost activities that everyone can enjoy. You can also start healthy traditions, like playing a game of touch football after holiday dinners. We have a popular mother-daughter aerobics class at our fitness center where we offer nutrition and other fitness tips too.
What do you have in store for the next school year?
We want to add a track behind the school and open it up to the community and create running groups. My students also voted to add a climbing wall. I’ve noticed that young girls lack upper body strength even for their age group. Rock climbing is definitely more fun than doing push-ups. Every year we ask students for their feedback: what they like, what they want to change. This way, they feel more involved and in control of their fitness, too.
Now tell us: How did your school PE experiences impact your fitness habits today?