For most children and youth, physical activity provides an opportunity to have fun. In addition, exercise promotes the basis for good health and an enhanced quality of life for the future. However, there are a small number of children and youth who may be at risk when participating in an exercise programme. It is therefore important for the personal trainer to do fitness tests and get the youth, guardian or parent to complete a screening form as part of a fitness test.
Children and youth fitness assessments provide a wealth of information for personal trainers. With the objective data which is collected from these assessments, you can identify young clients’ strengths and weaknesses and set realistic, attainable goals. It makes it easier to create appropriate and individualised exercise programme which are based on actual results. Youth fitness assessments also serve to regulate the level of risk prior to exercise participation. It focuses on establishing a baseline against which to compare the child’s progress.
The data can be used to educate the youth about their present fitness status as compared with well-known norms for others of the same age as well as gender. Physical education teachers and school personnel can use the data to evaluate and design their own physical education programmes. On Occasion, test results can even be used to motivate kids to embrace a physically active lifestyle in order to improve their fitness and health as adults.
The nitty-gritty of fitness testing for children
Fitness testing for children focuses on establishing a baseline on which to start the training.
Tools which personal trainers will require for fitness testing include:
- Skinfold calliper or other body composition tool
- Spring-loaded Gulick (anthropometric) tape
- Stethoscope and blood pressure cuff
- Cones or a marked course
- Treadmill track
- Step or cycle ergometer
- Sit-and-reach box or yardstick or roll of tape
- Exercise mats
Regarding your studio space, it is vital to consider the overall testing environment, particularly when it comes to minimising anxiety. To help children relax, try hanging up posters or pictures of cartoon characters or athletes who are exercising in a comparable setting. If time permits, show your young charges each piece of equipment in advance as well as demonstrate how they will utilise it.
During the proper assessment, it is best to take all measurements while standing at the child’s side as opposed to bending down to the child’s level because measurement error may occur when the tester is cramped or crouched.
An alternative is asking the child to stand on a steady platform or box so that he or she is at your level. Have a parent or co-worker present in the room when taking measurements on a child in order to avoid any situation which could be considered as being inappropriate. Having a parent nearby can also reduce the child’s apprehension during testing which will improve the validity of the test results.
Once the child or youth’s fitness levels have been ascertained then the appropriate exercise programme can be worked out for the participant. The programme must appeal to the participant on many levels, in other words exciting, easy to do, offer achievable goals, challenge different ability levels and most importantly it needs to be fun.
If you’re a qualified personal trainer and want to diversify your business to start training children, then we really recommend that you do our Exercise and Children Course. For more information, please follow this link.