YMCA Has New Program for Obese Kids

Reporter: Shannon Samson

For its centennial project, Evansville's Rotary Club donated $28,000 to the YMCA to build a youth fitness center.

The U.S. Department of Education paid for not just cardiovascular, but weight lifting equipment because there's new research that shows kids can get the same benefits as adults when they pump iron.

It's equipment that used to be reserved for adults only, but now the YMCA is allowing kids to hit the weights in its youth fitness center that features equipment sized just for them. What's changed? Health and Wellness Director Mardi File says, "There used to be a theory, the growth plates, that children shouldn't lift weights because it would damage their growth plates and in studies they've done over the last 15, 20 years since children have been lifting, they haven't found any damage to the growth plates."

They direct the kids to use proper form, with lower weights and higher repetitions. In fact, until more kids reach a higher level of fitness, the free weights are off limit. Staff members enforce these rules and encourage kids to include at least twenty minutes of cardio in each workout. Plus, they help with motivation. For a reward, kids can play physical video games, such as one that lets kids box a computer opponent.

You won't find any televisions in the cardio room and that's no accident. Mardi says kids get enough TV at home. "We faced all the equipment toward each other and we play the music soft and hope that they can interact with one another. So their friends are here and they can talk and you know how that helps the time go by."

As time goes by, hopefully the weight will come off. Experts say as kids young as six can participate in the new program if they can follow directions and be consistent with the safety techniques. It's really when parents think they're emotionally ready.

YMCA Fit Kids is an 8-week fitness and nutrition program for children 9-16 years of age who are at risk of being overweight and/or obese.

Fall Sessions:

Location I: YMCA Downtown Dates: Oct. 18-Dec. 8 Times: Mondays & Wednesdays 3:30pm-5pm

Location II: Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Newburgh Dates: Nov. 2-Dec. 16 Times: Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:30pm-8pm Fee: $85 YMCA Members $115 Community Members Financial Assistance available for those who meet income criteria.

Contact the YMCA for a registration form at 423-9622.