Gavin Metz is a Certified Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and holds a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology from Anderson University in South Carolina. Working for the past 2 years as a Head Coach Instructor at WinStrong Crossfit in Winter Garden, Gavin also spent 3 years at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy in Howey-in-the-Hills, FL, running their Junior Golf Academy Fitness Program.
Gavin and I have known each other now for a few years, having originally met playing soccer. Not only is he a good soccer player, he’s a great human being.
I met up with Gavin to have lunch and talk to him about getting kids, ages 6-12, involved with exercise in a fun and encouraging way. There are so many parents doing a great job at modeling fitness and healthy eating choices these days, and you can tell from some of the fun posts on Instagram, and other sites, that the little ones get inspired and try to imitate their moms and dads. I was excited to pick his brain!
Where to workout?
The first thing we spoke about was where to take the little ones to get them out of the house. He named off a few specific places like the West Orange Trail and Green Mountain Scenic Overlook, but stated that any place that has room to run or even a playground with a jungle gym would be great.
How Long Should a Workout Be?
30-45 minutes. Start the kids out, especially during the hotter months, with 30 minutes. You can increase the minutes as their bodies (and yours) get more used to it. You could also choose to do your workouts either early morning or early evening when the temps are cooler. He also suggested that 4-5 days a week is a good number of days to plan for kids fitness.
What are Good Exercises for Kids 6-12?
I asked about weights with kids in this age group as I’ve heard a number of times that kids under 12 shouldn’t be using weights. Gavin said some weight is ok, but anything with weight should be supervised and shouldn’t be too heavy. For parents to get their kids exercising, there’s really no need to incorporate weights.
With no hesitation he rattled off a bunch of non-equipment exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, bear crawls, crab walks, burpees, and running/jogging.
He pointed out that exercises that include environmental tasks help create better body awareness. If you have things like a jungle gym, this is a great way for kids to get their whole body involved.
How to Make Exercising Fun for Kids
We’re talking kids here, so fun should always be a factor! There are a few ways to keep things interesting as you introduce fitness into their lives.
Tell them you’ll take them out for a frozen yogurt or smoothie afterwards if they complete the time. Maybe you buy them a new shirt at the end of the week if they complete the 4-5 days.
Betcha-Can’t Game – The betcha-can’t game is a series of challenges where the parent says, “I betcha can’t do 10 sit-ups and 10 push-ups in a row.” In this game, the parent does the challenge first and then has the child attempt it.
Water Balloon Workout – Before heading out, fill up a bunch of water balloons and put them in a cooler. Split the water balloons evenly and distribute half to them and half to you. Stand a distance apart from each other and have a set of exercises you each have to do before you can throw a balloon at one another. The challenge might be that you have to do 10 sit ups before you can throw one balloon at the other person.
Spin the Wheel Workout – Create a spin wheel on a pie chart that has a number of different exercises. Take turns spinning the wheel to find out which exercise you have to complete.
Super Soaker Obstacles – With enough space and obstacles, pack up some super soakers and make a game out of it. You might have to run through a series of obstacles and shoot something with the super soaker once you’ve completed it.
Remember to Hydrate!
Orlando’s climate makes it easy to be active year round, but it does get hot during these summer months, so be sure to pack more than enough water before getting out and getting active.