Mini Treadmills: Anti-Obesity Tool or Death of Playtime?

In Grass Valley, Calif., a group of former psychical education teachers formed a fitness company for older children ages 6 and up called Kick Start Fitness for Kids.

Phyllis Rogers, a partner at Kick Start Fitness for Kids, said the exercise and "exertainment" equipment fills a fitness void for children who don't like traditional sports.

"I can tell you as a former P.E. teacher, out in activity or a game you have 25 percent of those kids engaged," said Rogers, who added the rest of the kids are just not interested, not in shape, or not socially comfortable participating.

Fitness Can Be Non-Competitive

In a Kick Start Gym, "it's a non-competitive environment. First and foremost," said Rogers.

Kim McMahon, a parent in Arizona, said her sons, 8-year-old Sam and 11-year-old Sean, have blossomed at the local kids' gym.

A child sits on fitness equipment designed for an older age group of 6-15.

Three times a week, the McMahons visit the Fitness Institute and Kids Fitness Institute of Scottsdale, Ariz. which offers kids-size equipment, games like Dance Dance Revolution, bikes hooked up to video games and a staff to direct and occupy the kids age 6-15.

"It's so hot here the kids can't go outside they tend to stay inside more and tend to be obese more," said McMahon.

McMahon said she was especially concerned for her son Sean, who is autistic and not good at social team sports.

"For years I have wished that I could find someplace for him to work out for him it has done a tremendous amount for his self esteem," said McMahon. "He told his friends he goes to the gym. They're looking at him impressed and say 'you work out?' He said 'yeah!'"

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