An 11-year-old boy, who works out without supervision at a gym, says, “I am fat, so my parents enrolled me in the gym. My mom tells me that it will inculcate the habit of exercising in me.” Many fitnesscentres allow young kids to join so as not to lose out on membership fees. A manager at a gym says, “Our cut-off age is 14, but we do take children on special request from parents.” Experts, however, warn against such a practice. “We do not recommend children joining the gym before they are 14, as their bodies are still developing. But we do allow them to enroll for special classes, especially if they are battling obesity and other weight related diseases. However, they should not be left unsupervised for even five minutes,” says Divya Himatsinghka, a gym owner.
According to a leading body building website, it is advised that working out at the gym is ideal after 14 years of age, as puberty strikes and natural growth is over by then. Fitness expert Neeraj Surana adds, “It is not healthy for children to exercise. They should take up a sport. Wrong exercises can deform their soft and supple bones.Lifting weights might even stunt their height. Even if children join gyms, they should only do cardio and freehand exercises.”
However, there are some children who do it to look good. Fourteenyear-old Nivedita has been going to a posh gym since the past one year. “I work out to be in shape, look good and be healthy,” she says. Her father Nanda Kumar, adds, “What motivated her is passion. Nivedita started exercising because she was playing golf, and needed strength and stability . We consulted a doctor before we enrolled her.”