According to government studies, children are exercising less, and in the past 20 years, the number of overweight children has doubled.
A kids club certainly worked for 11-year-old Michelle Benard. She's lost 20 pounds since she joined in February. "I feel more confident. I get to make friends more easily."
For $75 a month, Michelle's club offers 6- to 16-year-olds what adults get, but with a pint-sized twist. The machines are made especially for kids, and designed to prevent injuries. But some pediatricians say new-fangled weight machines and preteen kids do not always make the perfect workout mix.
Dr. Eric Small, who specializes in pediatric sports medicine, says, "If they are not supervised, by overexerting themselves on hydraulic equipment, they can suffer sprains or strains or muscle injuries or tendon injuries. They shouldn't be doing it every day, and the reason for that is they will get an overuse injury."
Dr. Small warns parents and preteen kids against pinning unrealistic expectations on weight machines of any kind, adding, "At a young age, it is probably not going to make them better athletes or assure them a scholarship to college or becoming an Olympic gold medalist."
There is only one company that is manufacturing the children's hydraulic machines. They began selling the machines last April and say more than 30 health clubs have purchased them. But only a handful of the clubs are for children only, and those are very popular.
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not have a formal position on these new hydraulic resistance machines. However, the academy does not recommend that children under the age of 11 use free or stacked weight systems at all.
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