Exercise & Physical Activity for Teens
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Exercise & Physical Activity for Teens
Can anyone recommend a personal trainer for my daughter, a high
school senior in Oakland. She played soccer for over 10 years but
quit last year because of school demands. On her own she won't
really push herself to exercise but really needs it. School offers
minimal physical activity and school work is demanding and
sedentary. When she played soccer she was in so much better shape
and managed studying and other mental activity much better also -
but she doesn't make the connection. I tried a personal trainer at
my gym but was too expensive and it's hard for her to get to the
gym on her own. Even someone to run with (would need to get her up
to a high level first), do stretches, upper body, etc. would be
great. If she could meet someone near Bart a few days a week that
would be perfect. Thanks...
mom wanting healthier habits
The Downtown Berkeley YMCA has over 700 teen members. We are
definitely able to provide personal training, but we also have
Teen Fitness Classes and many teens taking part in other fitness
classes as well. If you are interested in taking a tour with
your daughter, please don't hesitate to contact me at
510-665-3238 or the email provided.
Help! Our son has had weight issues since he was about 5 (he seems to
have inherited the tendency to be overweight from his birth mother),
but since he began to go through puberty last year, he has become
obese. We are worried about his health. He eats pretty healthy, but
does not like sports, but prefers to sit at a computer and play
on-line games. I am looking for creative ways to get him moving more,
doing something aerobic to burn calories. We are a one-income family
with limted resources so we can't afford a personal trainer or a
membership at the Y. I know I should be able to get him walking, but
he just doesn't like it. His social life is nil. Are there any
parents out there with overweight kids who have the same problem? Any
advice is appreciated.
Please contact me! I am the Director of Youth & Family Services at the
YMCA. You say you can't afford it, but we have a good financial assistance
program and I can
work with you to find good activities and solutions for your son that you can
afford. You are
right, personal training would still be expensive. But there are lots of
other options. Your
family are welcome to be my guest for a day and try it out! Our new youth
fitness areas were
designed with the obese child in mind. 510-665-3238 or email.
I recommend calling the Berkeley YMCA to inquire about teen memberships. We
family membership, but a couple of years ago my son's friend got a teen
hat he could go on his own. I don't remember the exact cost, but it seemed
reasonable at the time. Also, the YMCA has need based scholarships that you
My son loves the Hilltop YMCA and goes regularly to workout (they have staff
show you how to use the equipment) and play basketball. He made a really
there on the basketball court, and he has persuaded a couple of his high
school friends to
join as well. We love the YMCA because it is such a friendly,
They also have reasonably priced athletic trainers on staff who could set up
a work out
program for your son. Some people pay for ongoing sessions, but others pay
for a session
or two, just to get started.
Have you checked with your son's pediatrician for recommendations? (If your
overweight, it would be a good idea to have some medical oversight for any
Best of luck to you and your son.
Happy YMCA mom
Have you considered bicycling? It's a great way to get out, burn
calories and have some quality time together. Try the Bay Trail to
avoid traffic and have a flat ride. Sometimes we'll ride down to the
Bay Trail, do an out and back and then bus home!
The Berkeley Barracudas swim team (at King Pool) has also been great
for my overweight child. There are other heavy kids, the head coach
started swimming as a chubby kid, and we haven't heard of any bias.
Good luck and have fun!
(Trying to be) Active Mama
Hi - My son is an entering junior at Berkeley High. He has some
athletic talent but has never really enjoyed sports, whether team or
individual. We encourage him to ride his bike each day to school
(about 1.5 miles each way), which he will often do, and he walks a dog
about 15-20 minutes, 3 times a week. This year he has no mandatory
PE, so he has no PE class on his schedule.
For his health, I believe he needs to find a way to exercise more
intensely at least 3 - 5 times a week, and he agrees with me in
theory. But so far he is unwilling to follow through, because he
hates the way any activity would cut into his limited available time,
and then there's no exercise he's tried so far that he really likes.
He does like hiking and backpacking, but he's unwilling to do that
each weekend with us because he loves his time with his friends in
town. Any suggestions? Any one been in a similar situation?
(Over?) concerned athletic mom
The Berkeley Y is close to Berkeley High and has am enormous array
of options for everyone. The Y has a couple free days coming up,
September 19 & 20. The public is invited to check it out. Please
note; not all the regular classes offered at the Y are showcased on
the 19th and 20th. The full Y schedule is on-line. Your son could
inquire about classes that sound interesting to him, that may not be
available on the 19th and 20th. The facility is wonderful.
I think you may indeed be the over-concerned mom. Though I agree in
principle that exercise is important and highly desirable,
particularly in growing young people, I'm not convinced that it should
be required beyond what they are required to do in school (and that
isn't much...). Let me just say that as an adolescent, I was a couch
potato and bookworm. AND I was overweight. Is your son overweight?
Obese? It doesn't sound as if he is, and he's probably pretty
healthy. Anyway, I am an exerciser now, big-time. Pretty much every
day, and I love it. I feel bad without it. But it is definitely
something that an individual has to decide for him- or herself. You
can't really MAKE a person exercise, anyway. Have you ever seen the
groups of kids who are out and about town in their gym clothes,
supposedly jogging for their gym courses (this is a common sight in
Albany)? Some of them are racing, some of them are dutifully jogging
along, and others are lolly-gagging and strolling laughing in the back
with their friends. You can continue to introduce your son to new
things if he is willing: windsurfing or kayaking, mountain-biking or
rock-climbing... but if he is not willing you face wasted $$, wasted
time, and frustration. I would continue to offer him the good example
of your own joy in exercise, continue to ask him to walk the dog and
ride his bike and walk rather than being chauffeured, continue to
invite him on outings, and one day he may get off his tush.
still a bookworm, but former couch potato
Even though the school doesn't, you can require him to do a sport.
For example, if he likes backpacking he might like the individual
nature of cross-country running rather than a team sport. Indoor
rock-climbing gym is another possibility. It's good to also build
exercise into his life, as you have been doing. Suggest that he and
his friends take a longer backpacking trip by themselves. They're
probably old enough for the independence.
My daughter, going on fourteen, has recently expressed interest in starting
some form of regular exercise. She is quite physical, and in good shape, but
has never gotten into anything relating to athletics or movement. I personally
believe that this has more to do with family dynamics than with her
inclinations, but I say this only to stress that she isn't disinclined toward
physical activities. One thing however, that she doesn't care for are sports,
particularly team sports. So, no soccer, tennis, track, etc. I've been thinking
along the lines of yoga, Akido, or dance, but want to find an environment that
is friendly towards and has beginning classes for girls her age (one issue that
keeps coming up is that many girls have been taking these things since they
were young, and consequently most classes for her age are at the
intermediate or advanced levels). If anyone has had good experiences
anywhere with this issue, or if you have other suggestions for other physical
activities for young teenage girls, I'd love to hear them. Many thanks.
If your daughter is interested in martial arts, there are many many
dojos in the Berkeley/Oakland area. Some of them have a lot of...
energy, but there are many that are more balanced. I was a member of
Berkeley Cuong Nhu (on San Pablo @ Hearst) for five years and I found
it to be very comfortable place. They have classes just for teens, so
starting out aren't going to get stuck in kiddie classes and after some
they will have the option to join the adult classes as well. (There are
also Cuong Nhu dojos in Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland that are all
women.) If you're shopping around, consider a dojo that lets you try a
class for free, rather than signing up for a commitment beforehand.
Run, do not walk! Check out the Iron Works,800 Potter St,
at the bottom of Ashby Ave in Berkeley. It is where the
Whole Earth store used to be. My 15 year old son asked for
a membership, and I was thrilled when I went to look.
Many young people who don't enjoy organized (or unorganized) sports
really enjoy Dance, Dance Revolution, a video game that is fun and also
provides excellent aerobic exercise. Schools across the U.S. are
with this excellent resource. At home you'd need a Play Station or
DDR program, and an electronic mat: not a huge outlay of cash for
something that provides great exercise and lots of entertainment. My
grandchildren enjoy it and so do I. At the age of 60 I'm consistently
exercising for the first time in my life--and loving it!
My daughter was never that big on organized sports either,
although she backpacked and hiked from a very young age.
She was hesitant about tree-climbing while other kids were
high up in the branches, so we signed her up at Ironworks
for climbing after school when she was in 4th or 5th grade.
She has been climbing ever since, and she is now a freshman
in college, where rock-climbing is a popular class; she
even went ice-climbing for the first time this winter. Rock
climbing has made her very strong physically and it was a
great confidence booster. You don't need to compete, except
against your last best climb, and there's a cooperative
element when you have a partner to belay you. The kids in
the Ironworks classes seemed eager to encourage eachother
and my daughter made some good climbing pals. I suggest you
call and see if there is a beginning class for your
daughter's age range if she seems at all interested.
I think your daughter would really like the yoga class I
teach for teenagers in the Oakland/Piedmont area. The class
is small, and all the girls who come are beginners between
the ages of 13 and 17. It's a warm, supportive atmosphere
and a lot of fun. It's also a small class so she would get
tons of individual instruction.
If you have any questions about it please email me.
What about fencing for your daughter?
The El Cerrito Sport Fencing Center (off of Central just
before the overpass to Costco) is a great place for young
kids and teens. Both my boys, 11 and 16 have been taking
classes there for a while. Great teachers,great group of
The owners are Karen and Darwin Martos. Hope it works out.
It is important to encourage anyone who wants physical exericise to do
it. 24hr Fitness and the YMCA have great deals and facilities. She can go
to classes or meet a time or two with a trainer and follow her own
routine. If she is not interested in competitive sports please consider
competitive options like hiking or biking. Also you can hire a tennis, or
instructor for a few private sessions and then find time on her own to
I am sure the people on this list have great ideas. Remember that most
programs have at least a one time or first week free deal, ask when you
and she can try things til she finds something that works. It needs to be
something you can get her to and that works in your budget.
There's a ton of dancing going on locally. Lots of it
needs no skill or training and is free, and she can take a
friend. Check out folk-dancing at UC, contra dancing every
week (see calendar at www.sffmc.org or look up Bay Area
Country Dance Society), Irish dancing Monday nights at the
Starry Plough (free lessons at 7:30 or 8, dancing at 9).
Then there's the ballroom dancing scene-- my favorites are
the historical recreations like the Gaskell Ball in
Oakland and the Regency-era balls put on by PEERS. And
Fezziwig's warehouse, which is part of the Great Dickens
Christmas Faire, has been attracting young people as
participants/actors (workshops start in November; google
Red Barn Productions).
found dancing late
My son was like your daughter. Then about two years ago he
started taking circus classes. If she has any interest at
all in this I highly recommend it. My son is now part of
the City Circus in San Francisco and loves it. It is a
mixed age group (10 - 18) yet are all friends and look out
for each other. The kids celebrate being unique, strong
and healthy (you won't see them all dressed alike) They
each have their talent, strengths and weaknesses and to
tell you the truth I have never seen such a supporting
group of kids, constantly encouraging and helping each
other. They have become my son's social circle and I am
sure they are a good part of the reason he's getting
through BH as well as he is. There is a circus for youth
on this side of the bay (Splash) and two in the City
(Acrosports and ....) They all offer classes. My son is at
Acrosports and he started at 14.
Happy momma of a happy 16 year old
this page was last updated: May 22, 2012
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