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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 13:26 GMT
Workout for four year olds at gym
Youngster on treadmill at Gymkids
Gyms for children began opening in America in the early 1990s
A gym with a difference has opened in Swansea with children as young as four being able to work out.

The owners of Gymkids say they want to encourage children to be more active and tackle rising rates of obesity.

The gym has treadmills, step machines, weight benches and bikes, designed to be used by youngsters.

Some health experts say while any move to increase children's fitness levels should be welcomed, parents needed to place an emphasis on routine exercise.

Ann-Marie Williamson, who runs the businesses which opened on Thursday, said:

"They are in a safe internal environment - their parents are allowed to stay and I think there are not many outdoor facilities for children.

"We are not looking for children to be conscious about their weight but to maintain their fitness and have a healthier lifestyle.

It needs to be a nice balanced programme
Mary Sheppard, Fitness Wales

"If children can use the habit now there is a good chance they can take it into their adult life and prevent themselves from becoming obese and dying before their parents."

Paediatrician Dr Peter Saul: "I'm all for anything that's going to increase fitness in kids. I think though the best thing really is try and encourage children to take exercise in a natural routine environment.

"We need to be encouraging kids to play football, netball, run around, athletics - that sort of thing.

"There are some vulnerable children - children with obesity, with some physical disabilities or who have other medical problems sometimes need a bit of extra attention and it may well be gyms like this have a bit of a role there."

Fitness Wales director Mary Sheppard: "Children need to be active but they are not watered down adults so we need to take account children like fun and enjoyment.

"I think there is value in getting them to be active and have habits they are going to take into adult life but it needs to be a nice balanced programme."


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"It's gym equipment that's totally suitable for children"



SEE ALSO
Computer games on exercise bikes
26 Jul 06 |  South East Wales
Warning over child obesity push
28 Feb 06 |  Health
Making a healthy lifestyle fun
28 Feb 06 |  Health

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