Kids at Body Pump

I’ll admit that I’m totally guilty of judging people that I don’t know. I’m not saying I’m vicious, but I am human.

That said, one place were I find myself refraining from judgement is at the gym. I know it takes guts to try something new, and I know it takes a hell of a lot of determination to simply get yourself there.

Also, I’m usually so focused on not making an ass out of myself that I don’t may much attention to other people.

So, this brings me to yesterdays Body Pump.

A woman had brought her 10(ish) year old daughter to the class. To top it off, the little girl was drinking, what I’m assuming to be, Starbucks coffee (it was in a Starbucks cup, and I eavesdropped overheard her mention it being coffee.)

Let’s be clear: I am highly aware that everyone parents differently; there isn’t one “right” or “wrong” way to parent. I also know that I do not have children yet. Although, when I see situations like this, I do think to myself, if I were a parent, what would I do?Β 

I’m not making the assumption that this woman is a bad mother. It just felt wrongΒ to see a little girl at a weight lifting class, java in hand.

I am a huge advocate for healthy, active children, but in my mind active children are riding bikes, jumping rope, swimming, going on walks, etc.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had several mothers mention to me that their 4 – 6 year old daughters are already expressing signs of being self conscious about their bodies. This makes me wonder, is there a “right” or “wrong” way to talk to children about working out and being active? It it beneficial for little children attend fitness classes designed for adults?

I’d love, love, love to hear your opinion.


  1. says

    I think it depends highly on how mature (mentally and physically) the girl was! Some 10-year-olds are in full blown puberty while some are more physically immature. Hopefully she kept her weights light and had previous training in proper form!

    As for the coffee… Maybe it’s just an occasional thing her mom lets her have. And it’s possible that it was decaf!

    • leisha says

      actually had a chat with our instructor about taking my 12 year old over the school holidays. the reasons being is that my dd has low corordination and low muscletone etc. sports can ne hard for her and she gets picked on due to her problems.. so its hard for her to improve and maintain some self confidence. the insructor is happy for her to do ot.. sligjtly odigid.. it 1 kg weights or hand weights.

  2. says

    Oh my goodness. This brings me back to a recent episode of my strange addiction. Family of 4, the mom was a professional weight lifter and the dad was one of those strongest men competitors. The 7 year old was lifting twice his body weight. I think that’s a bit much. The occasional family friendly body pump class isn’t to bad as long as they keep to the warm up weights. And maybe the coffee was decaf. I will let my oldest have a treat like that every once in a blue moon.

    Before I became a mother I was totally judgmental and would think “would you shut that kid up” while they screamed in the grocery store. I am now that parent and have sympathy for those moms.

  3. Brittany Johns says

    There’s a difference between being a competitive athlete at that age and working out to better your appearance. I doubt this child was a competitive body pumper so I’d like to think she would’ve been better off playing a sport suited for her age. Growing bodies are more susceptible to injury when pushing the weight lifting limits. I was a connective tennis player at her age and suffered through knee problems later on without weights, just from the impact of being on the court. Also there’s something I really hate about children that young already buying into the need for coffee, more importantly starbucks. It’s become an infatuation with the brand, not with coffee, it’s safe to assume it was a sweetened drink, and they she didn’t need the caffeine after a late night at work so why buy her the coffee?

  4. says

    I don’t have an answer for you, but I have had the same thoughts. I have a 6 year old niece that is currently coming home from school crying because she is being called fat [and she isn’t!]. And sometimes, when she is getting dressed in the morning she says, “I can’t wear that, it makes me look fat”. I wonder how much of it is brought on by her hearing her mom say things like that and how much of it is because of the kids bullying her at school. Either way, I count myself as very lucky to have a mom who I never heard say anything negative about her body image and not to have that kind of experience at school. I don’t have kids yet and I’m so worried about these things. Just sharing!

    • Jamie says

      I just learned something from your post so Thank you! I am infatuated with loosing all my baby weight, which is only about 10 pounds, now that my 3rd son is almost 18 months…I am nowhere near overweight, just big for me. My boys are always hearing me say I can’t eat that because I am on a diet….or talking about how I need to loose weight. But they also hear me talk about the importance of healthy choices but allowing yourself to indulge every now and then. So I plan on working to make sure my boys hear positive reinforcements of good choices and not so much about how I need to loose weight. :) Thanks again!

  5. Jamie says

    Body Pump (one of my favorite classes EVER) is NOT for 10 year olds at all. The gym I use to go to wouldn’t allow them in the class until they were 12 years old at minimum. If you watch these ‘children’ do the exercises most of them do not have proper form and risk injuring their joints and muscles long term. As far as the ‘coffee’ is concerned, as a former youth counselor, I learned that many of our tweens and teens over used caffeine drinks all day (and night) long. We have created such a frantic lifestyle trying to fit ‘something to do’ in every spare minute we have and our children are suffering the consequences. My oldest son, who will be 9 in October, WILL NOT be doing Body Pump when he turns 10 and WILL NOT be partaking in Starbucks until he can buy it for himself. Call me a bad parent, non-understanding, cheap, whatever… job as a parent is not to be my child’s ‘friend’ until he is a grown adult….my job is to help mold him into a God serving, law abiding, honorable, respectful, health conscious young man….when that’s all said and done we will be friends and I will have helped raise an outstanding young man. :) Too many parents try to be their children’s friends which is part of what’s wrong with the children today. Off my soapbox now! :)

  6. says

    My word! I would say that is definitely not right to bring your child that young to a bodypump class. I actually am astounded that she is drinking coffee. Being a teacher, I really don’t think children need ANY more caffeine to wind them up! Might just be me, and I won’t judge the mom, I just think kids need to be doingthe activities you mentioned, or playing witha friend. I hope that the mother couldn’t find someone to watch her and thought shed bring her just for the day!

  7. says

    I think it’s definitely a good topic for discussion, but one thing to note is that it seems like you are not SURE the daughter is 10… she may have been older and just looked younger. There are some teenagers in the youth group that I teach who look like they are 10, but are actually 16. I can’t speak from personal experience about looking younger than I am – I have always been a giant – but I know that there certainly are people who do!

    • Colleen says

      You’re totally right, Lizzie! I’m not certain how old she was, but from her appearance and the discussion she was having with her mom, I can guarantee she wasn’t over the age of 12. But, as always, I could be TOTALLY wrong!

  8. says

    This initially worries me! 10 is too young for a child to be in a gym, I’m thinking from a safety & a self-esteem standpoint. The only way I could see it being ok is if the daughter really wanted to see what her Mom was doing & that’s why she tagged along. This is going to provide some interesting discussion for sure!

  9. says

    I have no idea what right and wrong is when it comes to parenting–I mean, I have an idea because I’m a sensible human being, but I guess no one truly knows what’s best for their children until they actually become a parent. HOWEVER, I would not take my 10 year old daughter to BodyPump. Or give her Starbucks.

  10. says

    Like many people have said before me, I am not a parent yet, but I know for a fact that I would not allow my kids to join a gym or even accompany me to the gym (to work out) until they are well into their teens. In my opinion, kids should be rollerblading, riding bikes, playing tag, participating in group sports, swimming in the neighborhood pool, etc. That’s what I did as a kid, and those were some of the best days of my life!! Ha! It’s great to want to teach your kids about fitness and healthy living, but I think there are more appropriate ways to do so.

    And as far as the coffee thing – I suppose there are worse things she could’ve been drinking! :)

  11. Lauren says

    It’s great to have this discussion! Disclosure: No kids but oldest sibling of 9.

    I’d argue that a coffee is a better choice than sugar AND caffeine laden pop/soda, which most ten year olds indulge in on the regular. (I know I’d put down multiple 2 liters of pop with friends during slumber parties in elementary school. The horror.) I find this to be appropriate as a treat and not an every day thing.

    I’d also argue that Body Pump (and any exercise) is a much better alternative to junk food and television. While the outdoor activities listed above (rollerblading, swimming, riding bikes) may be best, most research shows that strength training is appropriate for kiddos as long as there is a focus on safety and technique. If this is an occasional activity they do together, I take no issue with it.

    I’ll end this opposing viewpoint with a props to the mom for spending one-on-one time with her daughter.

    • Colleen says

      GREAT points, Lauren! Yeah, soda or coffee – pick your poison! :) Gosh, when I think about what I consumed during sleep overs, I cringe a little bit πŸ˜‰

  12. says

    Ooof – such a difficult topic. I think kids can greatly benefit at any age seeing their parents/guardians taking good care of themselves. They typically mimic what they see, so as long as parents are mirroring healthy habits, it seems okay (of course, every child is unique and should be monitored for signs of taking healthy habits to an unhealthy level of obsession).

    As for the coffee – I’m inclined to think like you….grown ups drink coffee. :) I believe there is also some research out there detailing how young people’s bodies don’t process things like caffeine as “well” as adults (although sometimes we adults don’t do so hot with it either!).

    Thanks for encouraging us to have these conversations!

  13. says

    Wow. I totally would’ve judged that lady (gotta be honest). Kids should not be drinking coffee — I don’t even like when I see kids downing Mountain Dew and Coke when they’re out to dinner! I don’t agree with kids attending “grown-up workout classes” either. A family walk, or even yoga at home with mom, seems okay, but I think that intense exercise should wait. I used to do Richard Simmons’ tapes (haha) with my mom when I was little because I saw her doing them, but I wasn’t do any of the moves full out, and his were pretty tame anyway. I think it’s great to demonstrate healthy habits, but some things are for adults only. If I were in that class, I would’ve been kind of upset that a little girl was taking up a spot in the class!

    • Colleen says

      I agree! Family walks, kids yoga, etc – all great! Your comment about the girl taking up space in class made me laugh out loud!!

  14. Chelsie S says

    I am definitely not an advocate of children drinking coffee in the least. In fact, I think that kids drinking any soft drinks with caffeine is wrong as well.
    But with regards to body pump … it looks like I disagree with the majority of people here. When I was five, my Dad set up my bike in the basement on wooden blocks next to my parents’ stationary bike. I loved to spin when they did. We biked as a family together after dinner every night during the spring, summer and fall. We played baseball and badminton and football as a family. We were always outside playing. And yes, I did workout videos with my mom and went to the gym with her a few times (even before middle school). I used the lightest weights and did what I could. We were healthy and active as a family. My parents displayed very healthy habits for us. It was never about being thin or losing weight — it was about being active and feeling good getting sweaty and dirty. I can understand where the others are coming from saying that they would not bring their children there nor would they like for other children to be there. But competitive child athletes and dancers go through far more rigorous workouts, so any arguments that it’s “too tough” are moot.
    I think that in the end, it comes down to intent. If she brought her daughter to body pump to keep her thin and toned — all wrong. But if they were just looking for some fun Mommy-Daughter time, I really don’t see that there is that much wrong with that. It might be an unconventional view, and it might very well be why I’m not ready for motherhood, but I’m standing behind it.

    • Colleen says

      You make wonderful points, Chelsie. I think it’s awesome that you and your family valued being active from the very start! I so appreciate you giving your feedback – I really didn’t think about body pump vs extreme sports. You’re so right!

  15. says

    I work with kids in a public library, and I try my hardest to refrain from having an opinion of other people’s parenting methods when I don’t have kids myself, but it’s hard…and some things are just wrong! I’ve had to tell parents that it wasn’t appropriate to bring their kids to the exercise classes we book at the library and let them run around the lobby by themselves.

  16. says

    I’ve never taken a body pump class before but I HAVE lifted weights and I see kids (they at least seem like kids to me, they may be low-teens) in the weight room who have NO idea what they’re doing and are likely to get injured for trying to lift too heavy. I think 10 is too young BUT I do support teaching PROPER weight-lifting technique and keeping kids active. It’s a tough conversation…

    • Colleen says

      It is a tough conversation! I was thinking about it long after I left, and I was like, “Oh what the hell, let me blog about it and see what everyone else thinks” Also, you need to try out Body Pump!! :)

  17. says

    Oh man, I’m with you. I’m not a mom, so while I don’t feel it’s exactly my place to understand what goes into raising children etc etc….seeing a little girl at a fitness class with a Starbucks in hand would’ve just broken my heart. When I was 10 I was going home from school and playing with my American girl doll, or if it was nice out, I’d go outside and work on my forts. Body pump? No way.

    • Colleen says

      I’m with you! I was playing with dolls or going on adventure hunts around the neighborhood :)

  18. says

    COMPLETELY my opinion here…
    BodyPump and classes such as these are designed with an adult body in mind… not a kids. I am fully supportive of kids being active (I would prefer my kids-someday- to be active through sports as their grow up) but if they’re going to do a structured EXERCISE i would have them participating in a specific class/training/group that is DESIGNED FOR KIDS in mind. I think weight training, cardio, etc can be good but they need to be working with someone who is KNOWLEDGEABLE about kids and fitness. Their bodies aren’t fully developed and there can be SOME damages that come along with starting with too much too fast.
    Here are some articles on it:

  19. says

    Gosh, this one is a hard one. Now that I’m having not one, but TWO little girls, I can’t help but being terrified at how she’s going to view the world because of my own actions. With that being said, some parents let their children drink caffeine – whether it’s soda, or (why a child would even want to drink it??) coffee. Personally, I wouldn’t go there with my kids. Maybe she wanted to go to the fitness class with mom so she could spend time with her or mimick her own mother’s actions. Who knows? I’m trying to give this one the benefit of a doubt. I’d rather my 10 year old be running around outside chasing her friends!

  20. Mallory says

    I sincerely hope she was just trying to mimic mom or possibly that this was a “bonding” experience. The alternative is that a ten year old girl is downing caffeine and having body issues… kind of sad. If I had seen this in one of my pump classes it would absolutely make me uncomfortable!

    • Colleen says

      I know – since I don’t have ALL the info, it’s a tough call – but I was just so taken aback!

  21. says

    I don’t know. I mean my mother never once mentioned that dieting or weight growing up, and we never had a scale to hand, and yet I ended up with an eating disorder. Not sure society was solely to blame either, but it was much more of a factor than my mother.
    And even though I’m only 22, people three years younger than me are experiencing things much younger than I did. My main worry would be about injury for the child really. I’m not sure if attending a body pump lesson would effect her mentality about weight. But perhaps it’s the reason for her asking to attend in the first place.
    I really don’t know. It’s a tough one!

    • Colleen says

      Really good points! Just because you DO or DON’T talk about weight, doesn’t mean your daughter will or won’t have an eating disorder. Thanks for bringing that up! I really appreciate it.

  22. says

    That is SO crazy!!! I think it would be good to encourage a healthy life style but I”m not sure weight lifting is the right answer… and coffee? maybe it was decaf?

  23. says

    I’m afraid that Nia is already addicted to Starbucks through osmosis…kidding! I don’t really agree with a 10 year old hanging out in a BodyPump class. My little sister (she’s much younger) did a KIDS class one time, but I highly doubt it resembled BodyPump at all. I agree with the being outside comments, and thus, I will lock Nia outside when she reaches 10 years old and hand her a bike. I’m kidding…I think? haha

  24. says

    I agree that kids (even up to 13-14+) shouldn’t be lifting weights – they should be out moving; riding bikes, playing tag, doing gymnastics or playing basketball, jumping rope, etc. NOT lifting heavy weights….sad and scary…..and I won’t even go into the coffee part….

  25. Sarah says

    I am a mother of two kids (10 and 6 yo). Yes, I exercise with my children-we run (limited distances), play sports and even do yoga together. I would never, EVER take them to a lifting class-EVER. There are just too many people with too many weights. It’s just not safe IMO. I’m not saying weight lifting for a child is wrong (I really don’t know, but I’d sure research it first before my kids actually do it). It’s the class environment/program that I question.

    As for caffeine…eh, that doesn’t offend me so badly. It could have been a special treat for the child. I know I’ve taken my kiddos to Starbucks for hot chocolate (and whipped cream) on a cold winter afternoon. I really don’t see that it’s more harmful than other junk foods (in moderation, of course).

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