Baby Gyms: Now I've Heard Everything
At first glance, I thought the term "baby gym" referred to gyms where a superb level of childcare was provided for members intent on rediscovering muscles that had been largely ignored during baby making phases.
Baby gyms - where indeed the participants are babies and toddlers, and indeed the main purpose is exercise - are popping up all over the United States and Canada, with big plans for hitting China next. Someone needs to capitalize on the growing 35% obesity rate in America. You can imagine fears of extra pounds being put to rest as parents sign up their unsuspecting offspring for aerobics, never mind the small fact that they can't yet stand.
Today on my favorite radio show, Q, host Jian Ghomeshi interviewed Darlene Bolhuis, the creator of Gymtrix, a library of videos designed to put your toddler through the paces of exercise. Its website lists potential benefits of these videos as accelerated physical activity and the prevention of obesity. Ms. Bolhuis told Ghomeshi she believes in physical literacy, in the same way regular literacy should be encouraged from an early age. If you teach a baby how to kick a balloon with his foot, the idea is he will have a better idea of what to do when he walks onto the soccer pitch.
Read: give your kid an advantage! This concept preys on those parents desiring Tiger Woods or Sidney Crosby proteges to fund their retirement.
In his New York Times article, Sports Training Has Begun for Babies and Toddlers, Mark Hyman highlights this is not an isolated incident - there are other companies making similar DVD's, such as athleticBaby and Baby Goes Pro, not to mention a plethora of gyms set up under the guise of altering skyrocketing obesity rates. They encourage parents to start the gym habit with infants as young as four months old.
All this on the heels of the outrageous Baby Yoga video that made headlines in January, showcasing a Russian woman carelessly handling an infant as though it were a yo-yo, the premise being this is actually beneficial for babies. What is this world coming to?
Encouraging a healthy generation of children can be accomplished by good eating habits and normal, age-appropriate exercise. Think fewer Doritos, more hiking. Leave the infants to discovering their fingers and toes, and the toddlers to doing what they do best: playing.
Photo credit: Ann Johansson for The New York Times