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Friday, 22 June, 2001, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Mini muscle power at the gym
New Generation gym
Children can now work out with their parents
Children are being encouraged to swap videos and computers for fitness machines at the gym.

A third of Britain's schoolchildren are overweight.

A gym in the Black Country is hoping to tackle the problem in its area by unveiling a range of mini exercise machines for under 10s.

Around 300 children have already signed up to the Next Generation gym in Brierley Hill where they can pump iron next to their parents.

The gym aims to promote the benefits of exercise at an early age.

Weights can prevent injuries but if they are unsupervised, that's when you have a lot of the overuse injuries.

Dr Ralph Rogers

Health and fitness manager Kate Lester said: "A lot of children are not very fit or healthy at the moment.

"Most of the time they are sat behind a television playing computer games so it's a case of getting them in and doing something with them."

The idea of introducing children to the gym started in America 10 years ago and looks set to take off in Britain.

Jackie Underwood's daughter Katie, 7, is a member of the gym.

Properly supervised

She said: "She is very conscious of her weight and it seemed like a good time to introduce her.

"She was shown how to use the weights properly and it was better than her trying to do something at home and not doing it right."

But while doctors welcome the idea of more children exercising, they are also concerned that the concept could lead to children injuring themselves.

Dr Ralph Rogers, a sports therapist, said: "Weights can prevent injuries but if they are unsupervised, that's when you have a lot of the overuse injuries."

The Next Generation gym insists that children are properly supervised at all times and are given a six hour training session before they become a member.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Health
NHS 'faces 16bn obesity bill'
06 Sep 00 | Scotland
Obesity threat to child health
10 Jul 00 | Health
Warning over UK obesity levels
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