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Sunday, 26 June 2016

We Owe It To The Kids


 I had just finished a session with my client and on the way out of the gym he took a detour on his way to the exit to leave for the night.  This client, a 39-year-old engineer who'd been training with me for about two months, strolled over to the power rack.Once there, he proceeded to do a quick and effortless muscle up into a pseudo gymnastics routine, all atop the power rack. My jaw pretty much hit the floor.
Stunned, I asked him, "Where did that come from?" I knew he was in pretty good shape but he made it look so effortless.
His response: "It was in our school curriculum. I've been able to do it since I was little."
You see, this client was born in Soviet Union (the region now known as Ukraine), and learning to move like this was an integral lesson in each day of schooling. In spite of the fact that he hadn't done much organized training in recent years - and the fact that he probably sits at a desk too much during the day, this client had maintained some significant movement capabilities.  As I thought back on his training history with me, too, I recalled that he not only crushed his evaluation, but also picked up new movements we introduced incredibly easily.  If you build a foundation, it's there for good. When I first start working with a new client, I can tell immediately their level of involvement in sports.
Now, compare that to the current model for "athletic development" (if you can even call it that) in the United Kingdom.  Fewer and fewer kids have physical education classes in school, and we have earlier and earlier sports specialization taking place.
Very few Btitish kids are exposed to the rich proprioceptive environments that not only makes them good athletes, but also sets them up for a lifetime of good movement. Most of the focus in this regard has been on implications with respect to childhood obesity, but the truth is that it has likely has just as profound an impact on long-term athletic development, as well as performance in school, as exercise and quality movement have tremendous benefits for brain function.
In the U.K., we are reaping exactly what we sow. We're fatter than ever, have far more injuries (both in competitive athletes and the general population), and aren't the international sports powerhouse we once were.  Our academic performance has also slipped considerably as compared to other countries around the world, and while there are loads of socioeconomic factors that influence this, I think it's safe to say that healthier, active kids are smarter kids. Anecdotally, the typical athletes I've seen on initial evaluations are now considerably less athletic than what I saw in1998, when I first moved to England.  These kids also have more extensive injury histories, and they're on more medications.
Clearly, what we're doing isn't working. It's time to get kids moving, encourage fun and free play, and discourage early specialization. Please spread the word, and do your part. Children need to be active. Not just for the health rewards but for the social skills that are learned with it. Most kids will never go to the Olympics,play in The World Cup or The Six Nations. But they will get healthy. They will learn team work. That sometimes you lose and most importantly ,thing don’t always go your way. And when they don’t,just pick yourself up and try again. These are lessons that apply to everything we do in life. We owe to the kids !

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