Whenever I see a dad drag his 11 or 12 year old son to the gym, I’m reminded of the dog owner who forces his golden retriever to join him in a three mile jog.
I really do feel bad for each kid. Every time, he looks bewildered and intimidated, as if he’s joining his dad for a night at the theatre. I guess the dad thinks he’s showing off when his son spots him on some heavy lift. But you’d think plain common sense would stop the dad from pushing his child through a workout meant for grown men.
The science of weightlifting for children and teens is pretty clear: Heavy lifting can cause changes in the way bones develop and stunt growth. It also doesn’t take a brain surgeon – or a physiatrist – to realize that kids aren’t physically ready for serious bodybuilding.
Of course, there’s also the basic issue of more bodies cluttering the gym, particularly those that have no experience with gym etiquette. Kids tend to camp out on equipment they’re not using, getting in the way and making themselves a nuisance. I really can’t blame the boy for taking a mid-workout snooze on the incline bench – he’s signaling dad that he’s had enough, and he is truly wiped out. But still, we’ve got enough of a challenge getting the adults to behave, why add kids to the mix?
Then there’s the parent who has her seven year old tag along. This is generally rare, but does happen on holidays when the gym daycare is closed. Needless to say, a small child rolling around on the gym floor is a major disaster waiting to happen.