Your adolescent is getting taller, eating more, and gaining weight. It happens parents, our kids grow and eat more while moving less. Between school and therapies who has time for the gym, right? Well, unfortunately, we tend to place fitness in the back burner when in reality it should be in the forefront.
Our health should have as much importance to us as education or physical therapy or speech therapy. Adolescence is a great time to begin incorporating health and fitness and I will be discussing some quick pointers to help with that transition.
First: The selection of a gym
There are many options out there that offer free joining fees and personal training and towel service and the list goes on. My recommendation is finding a facility that is family friendly and offers a variety of children programming. Many facilities that have a focus on family programming will more than likely have gym members used to seeing families out on the workout areas. This will help when you are using weight machines while trying to figure them out, and before you know it you have a line of people waiting to use your machine.
Other than a family friendly facility, you will want to have a good variety of family programming. Exercise classes are usually included in your membership fee and are a good way of jumpstarting your fitness journey.
Participating in an exercise class has its benefits:
- you have an instructor giving you direction
- you are working out with a group
- and you are less likely to give up quickly
Research shows that when you workout with a group you are less likely to give up, have more fun, and learn quicker (ACSM 2012 Benefits of Group Exercise).
Second: The selection of wardrobe
Yes folks, I said wardrobe. Exercise clothing plays an important part in your fitness. Materials used for workout clothes are different than your ordinary t-shirt. Synthetic materials like lycra or polyester are used to help in wicking sweat from your body and reducing any type of chaffing on the skin. Now, I am not saying you have to go and spend hundreds of dollars on the best name brands. What I am saying is look at the tags and make sure you stay away from cotton materials in your workout clothes.
The proper clothing will not only be more comfortable but you will also look the part of an athlete (this helps our confidence levels). From your socks to your shirt, you want materials that are a blend of lycra, polyester, or bamboo from any brand (not necessarily an expensive brand).
Third: The selection of your purpose for going to the gym
In this case, the purpose is to increase the activity levels of your teenager. For that you will need to make sure you have options for them at your gym. You are looking for activities that can be done as a group and some that are done alone. For example, having a variety of exercise classes for you all to do will help when motivation is high. When your teenager doesn’t feel like socializing you can do activities that can be done alone, like shooting a basketball around or jumping on a stationary bike or even lift weights. Most facilities have great options for both group and single activities.
Lastly, you want to do some test driving before buying the car.
Once you find your gym you want to ask for some passes so that you can give it a try. Your teenager may not buy into the gym thing right away but your week pass will at least allow you to try at no cost to you. Be consistent when using your pass and make the most of it. Try out a class, lift some weights, swim in the indoor pool, or jump on a bike.
The key point here is consistency. Give yourself a goal of attending the gym Monday through Friday and trying something different so that your kid sees you participating as well. Once the week is over you can reassess the situation and see what your teenager thinks. Their input may surprise you and/or help you in finding a different gym that will fit your needs.
Attending a gym for the first time can be overwhelming for us, as parents, and even more so for someone with Asperger’s. Remind yourself to be patient, take your time finding your gym, and enjoy the journey to a lifetime of good health and increased activity.
By Alfred Chavira
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