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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kids Jumping For Fitness

Little brother models the spongy helmet

My eleven year old grandson was beginning to get a little bit pudgy around the waist. He noticed it first since it's difficult for me to see any imperfection in him at all. I just saw this as a normal growth spurt. He started teasing himself about it, possibly to hide his insecurity. But then his cousin started teasing him about it. Now I could tell that he was hurting.

This prompted me to take a look at his lifestyle. Besides far too many sweets and snacks, he spent most of his time watching cartoons and playing with his DS since school let out for the summer. I started encouraging him to go outside and play. But he complained that we didn't have much yard to play in and the neighborhood left much to be desired for play area.

Then one day I received an email coupon for two hours of jump time at the local trampoline jumping arena. So off we go to check out this place. My grandson was the only one wearing jeans. All the other kids and some adults I might add were wearing cool clothing like shorts and tank tops. We signed the waiver stating basically that if he broke his neck we wouldn't sue them. My grandson put on the ankle support soft shoes and thick, spongy helmet the place provided.

I could see that he was a little nervous at first as he approached the arena with caution. He had jumped on his cousin's front yard trampoline many times before, but this was an entire warehouse size room for jumping. The trampoline was full of bouncing children. Sections were divided by age with a large net that draped across the room. I could see some teenage girls jumping at one end of the arena and nearby was a young couple who were jumping together while holding hands. I thought to myself, 'if this works out, I might try it'.

I glanced back at my grandson just in time to catch a grin on his face as he watched the other kids bounce and flip with glee. All at once, his apprehension was gone. He stepped out onto the trampoline and started jumping with all his might. I watched him jump and flip and jump some more. After about 15 minutes, I noticed his face looked really red. I motioned for him to come to me.

As he got closer, I could see he was very red faced, white around his mouth and his hair under the helmet looked drenched. I suggested he take a break and get some water to drink. He complied and when he took off his helmet, a river of sweat poured out onto the floor. It sprayed everywhere, even trickling a bit onto the lady that was nearby watching her child jump. She winced and I could see him holding back laughter. However, after a look from me, he apologized to her.

I made him sit and rest a bit while he downed some cold spring water. I could barely keep him from returning to jump even if it meant risking a heart attack. I know it's not likely that an eleven year old would have a heart attack, but he really was out of shape and he really was exerting himself more than I had seen in years. I finally let him go back in the arena, but I concluded that there was no way I was going to let him jump the whole two hours as the coupon was allowing.

However, I did agree to bring him back every week for a one hour session. To me it was a $12 investment in his health and well-being. And...I would never have to make him do it. When bedtime came, he was asking for the biofreeze, ibuprofen and a heating pad to comfort his sore muscles. I tried to console him by telling him that it would be less painful each time he jumped. Hooray for finding a fun way to help him get fit!

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