C.J. Senter is a 10-year-old kid who has been on a fitness kick for half his life, and he is motivating other elementary school students to get fit.
This exercise guru from Locust Grove, Ga., has his own workout DVDs and is on a mission to get kids to build a physique like his. But few adults could ever hope for his six-pack abs.
C.J. started working out at age 5 for a pee-wee football tournament, and an exercise obsession was born. When he saw an infomercial for P90X, he begged his father to let him make a workout video of his own, marketed towards children.
"You can go outside and have fun, but some kids, they'll just go outside for like 10 minutes and come back in," C.J. said. "But if you just do a workout, your body will sweat more.
"Sweating, it lets, you know, you're losing weight," he continued. "You're really working."
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly a third of all American children and adolescents are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for heart disease, Type II diabetes, asthma, and other ailments. C.J. might be the right role model to draw kids out of their sedentary lifestyles.
"I just want to get my message out to kids so they can get on their feet and have fun and learn new exercise," he said.
Heard Mixon Elementary in Covington, Ga., uses C.J.'s tapes with its 450 students as part of physical education class, and many of the children there seemed motivated.
"He inspired me because he was taking care of his body and exercising every day, and that inspired me that I need to exercise, too," said Andrew Mills, age 9.
Surprisingly, some of the kids were also body conscious.
"I got a lot stronger," said James Kirby, age 11. "Last few weeks I've lost about 10 pounds. ... I was a lot chubbier.
While any anti-obesity message might seem like a good thing, doctors who specialize in sports medicine say kids can dangerously overdo it.
"In my practice now, I've seen doubling of injuries to young kids, age 10 or 9 or 8, with overuse injuries because they're doing more now," said Dr. Robert Gotlin, director of Orthopedic and Sports Program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Gotlin said that while tendonitis is the most prevalent ailment he has seen in active children, he has also seen young patients with bruising, as well as bone and ligament injuries.
"The problem with ligament injuries in children is the fact that ligaments in kids are very, very strong," he said. "So what happens is they don't tear but they pull the bone. And the ligament can actually pull the bone off the bone."
Having written about kids and fitness, Gotlin recommended children could work out up to an hour per day, with water breaks and mixing up their exercise -- such as aerobics, lifting weights. He offered a word of caution to children looking to get buff like C.J.
"What we have nowadays is children playing multiple sports or doing multiple activities," Gotlin said. "C.J., running track, playing football and working out ... that's overuse set-up, because he's doing three different things at one time."