Monday, August 05, 2002

Fitness videos get kids moving

Panels test styles from yoga to 'Elmocizing'

By Llee Sivitz
Enquirer contributor

        Children's TV watching often increases during summer months, to the dismay of many parents. Here's something youngsters can watch that will get them moving: kids exercise videos.

        They're not easy to find in video, book or music stores, even libraries. The largest video selection is on the Internet.

        Not many children's videos are made, says Jill Ross, owner of Collage Video ( ).

        “It's hard to appeal to children,” she says. “They are used to high-quality productions (TV shows), and exercise videos are usually low budget and not as glitzy.”

        Also, the age range listed on the video does not guarantee success.

        “Some children are more coordinated than others,” Ms. Ross says. “And usually, (a relative) picks out the video, and may not know what appeals to the child.”

        Nevertheless, some fun kids exercise video titles exist. Weasked two Anderson Township families to test four videos. Here are the results:

        • Yoga for the Kid in All of Us (Current Wellness; $14.95) by Yogamazing — 5 to 10 year olds.

        Children: Spenser Brown, 5, found the stretching poses difficult. Sean Daniher, 7, enjoyed doing them with his mom. Though yoga was new to her, Mackenzie Brown, 8, “got some exercise.” Megan Daniher, 9, was inspired to try the yoga poses on her own. Ian Daniher, 11, saw the stretches as a good warm-up for his tae kwon do classes.

        Moms: Holly Brown thought it was a good workout, but said her children needed further instruction to do the poses properly. She felt it moved too slowly for Spenser, but was great for the older kids. Nanci Daniher thought the video tried to do too much. Nevertheless, it sparked her interest in yoga.

        • Tae-Bo Junior (Tae-Bo; $24.95) by Billy Blanks — 4 to 14 year olds.

        Children: Spenser and Sean liked the karate kicks, as did Mackenzie, who also liked the punching moves. Megan said she might watch the video two times a week. Ian said he would use it every other day for his workout.

        Moms: Ms. Brown felt the moves made Spenser slightly aggressive. Kids, especially siblings, she advised, need a big space for this type exercise. She saw the 30-minute tape as a good way to get her kids moving and herself warmed up before running or walking. Ms. Daniher said Mr. Blanks is a “cool guy” who motivates kids well. She especially liked his explanation of muscles and what the exercises did. She recommended doing this tape with children a few times to make sure they use the correct technique.

        • Elmocize (Sony Wonder; $12.95) by Children's Television Workshop — 2 to 5 year olds.

        Children: Spenser liked the singing and hopping. Sean does not like Elmo and didn't like the tape. Mackenzie considered it for “little kids,” like her 1-year-old cousin. For Megan, it had too many puppets and not enough “real people.” Ian said it wasn't really exercising but rather “wiggling and moving,” which he didn't care for.

        Moms: Ms. Brown thought the video best suited for ages 1 to 4. Although Spenser said he would do it again, she doubted he would. She noted that proper technique was not mentioned, which is fine for 2 or 3 year olds, but a drawback for older children. She questioned the need for this video when you could just “put on some music and move around.” One plus: Elmo tells kids that exercise is important. Ms. Daniher compared it to a Sesame Street episode with alternating segments of activity and watching, but it was unclear which were which. She didn't feel this video had much exercise value, but would be welcomed by any child who loves Elmo.

        • Fun House Fitness: Fun House Funk (Warner Home Video; $12.95) by Jane Fonda Workouts — 8 to 12 year olds.

        Children: Spencer and Sean enjoyed the hopping and jumping, but Sean admitted the moves were difficult. It was challenging, too, for Mackenzie, who liked the girl instructor showing each move and “putting it all together” at the end. Megan enjoyed the excerpts from the Fun House TV show, and felt she got some exercise when she “figured out what they were doing.” Ian called the video fast-paced, but he could not follow it very well. He said it would be two years before the dance moves appealed to him, but felt the excerpts of Fun House were geared toward his younger brother.

        Moms: Ms. Brown thought the idea was great, but the dance moves were too hard. “Having taught elementary school, I know this age group could not follow those moves,” she said. Ms. Daniher agreed: “I can see my daughter wanting to conquer those moves, but I see it taking her six months.”

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