OK, you might've heard the song, but you haven't lived until you've seen the video.
On a more serious note, I wanted to discuss something that has actually bugged me since I was in high school. It's not really anything serious, though I do believe it's a good example of a phenomenon I've bitched about before.
Now, I know that sometimes it seems like I obsess about young people and find all kinds of ways to relate subjects back to a topic like this, but let's just get something clear: that's because you're reading my InkBunny journal.
When I'm actually working out, I don't think much about, say, this issue I'm about to raise. But I generally don't bother touching on political topics (such as youth rights) unless I think there's a benefit to talking about to my InkBunny audience. Just thought I'd get that out there, and this matters to me because I ran into it when I was a teenager myself.
I've been pretty hot and cold when it came to exercise and working out. There are distinct periods in my life where I was actually very active and then I lost interest. The most significant (and damaging) period was about half-way through high school, when I quit my sports and got hit by depression. Read my last journal and you might get a hint about why.
As such, I know this isn't a big issue. I just like to talk, and so I'm gonna talk about it. See?
The first good period, I was a kid and just ran around like kids do. Used to love rollerblading, which has gone downhill in popularity over the years but it was still a thing in the 90s - I can count the number of kids I've seen rollerblading in the last 3 years on one hand.
I started gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do, but for various reasons I didn't take it seriously enough and never progressed to any meaningful point. This is saddening to me, because I've since met kids about that age (7-9) that take their sports very seriously, and this is part of the reason for posts like this: I absolutely support them and all kids that want to get into a sport or an active lifestyle seriously, and it irks me because there's a surprising amount of resistance to the idea of a responsible, active, dedicated young athlete that wants to be the best they can be.
It upsets me a lot to know that I never really seized on my chances, and I will stick up for any young person who wants to make something of themselves academically or athletically, provided it's their will, not the will of their parents.
I got lazy briefly, then I got back off my ass and started to play soccer, AFL, street-hockey, swimming and running. I remember I actually startled some of the jocks when I won a race in school - these other tweens were seriously like "wait wut, you won?!"
Like before, at this point I was seeing some startlingly dedicated young athletes. Many of my classmates were actually locally-famous for their sports.
Eventually, I took up a martial art (the exact school of which I'm wary of mentioning), when I was about eleven, which bolstered my interest in physicality a lot. I wanted to start cross-training in another, but my parents resisted the idea (grr!).
At the same time, things started to get messy. Hate to rag on schools again, but high school's structured, forced, "for your own good" approach to sports/PE utterly decimated my interest in sports I used to have a casual love of. I was never a great swimmer or swum competitively like so many of my classmates did, but I used to love it; until being forced to do it in high school.
PE should be play time at school, that's all. In my opinion, it should be approached like another break from classwork, only it's made certain that it's employed in a physical manner. Forcing students to perform to a certain level in a sport they have no interest or aptitude in, but have no way out of, is pretty much what's wrong with schooling in a nutshell. The difference between swimming lessons (which are compulsory here, remember what I said about our aqua-sports obsession?) in early grades to the lessons in high school was that the fun was sucked right out of them.
I didn't feel like I was being taught to swim, or having fun in an active way. It was "school", a chore and I wasn't comfortable there. The serious, competitive swimmers seemed to enjoy it, but that's the problem: it resembled more training for a competition I wasn't in, like deadly-serious practice for some inter-school football game, instead of an activity.
You have to break yourself into that mentality to enjoy it, which isn't easy. I know, I did it for soccer in the tenth grade and walked away with "man of the match" honors as the goalie, blocking every single strike. I think one bastard got past me that entire term.
But, to cut the reminiscing short, at one time there was talk of doing light weight-lifting and calisthenics. This actually interested quite a few of us, myself included, but nothing much came of it. It was a bloody shame, and when I mentioned it to my mother, I suddenly found myself introduced to the sorts of bullshit people believe about this. It's only gotten worse since that evening.
Basically, there are people who believe that any weight training for youths under a ludicrously high age will cause "permanent damage." This belief extends beyond that, to the level that some idiots even say that rigorous exercise and calisthenics are harmful to children! It's no joke that I've actually seen people claim that focused exercise is bad for children.
Oh, football, swimming, etc, that's all fine... unless, of course, they do it with any sort of dedication or frequency. But not weights. Or doing stuff like situps.
Okay, I'll be honest: this has something to do with Astray's next chapter, and that's why it's been on my mind. OKAY?!
To be rather blunt about it, amongst the people who actually do youth's/children's strength training, every single myth has long since been dispelled.
You will not stunt your growth with weights or pushups (or with coffee!). Richard Sandrak, who was a heavy bodybuilder from the age of 4, is of average height and what he did is not what people recommend for youths anyway.
Nor is any damage guaranteed.
In the face of a rising childhood obesity rate, which is not good at all and something we really need to care about, people shouldn't be using ignorant arguments to scare parents away from letting their kids do minor workouts. It's a great habit to get into, it's very beneficial. Definitely not saying "work your kids to death with shoulder presses of half their weight".
But encourage exercise and definitely don't stop them if they want to do it. Minor weights won't cause any damage at all.
Most importantly, slam the idea that being physically active or fit precludes you from being intelligent or academic right in the bin. Vice versa, too.
If your kid is a bookish little guy or girl, great. Don't you dare imply that they're wasting their time to them. But encourage them to spend a little time on their physical health too. Calisthenics and light weight-training (done responsibly) has good benefits for a younger person, especially since their major disadvantage is physical strength. It's good for your body, it's great to be a little stronger and more durable than average, and it's good for your mind too.
Most people I know who basically act like they're too smart to kick a ball around aren't very smart at all. There's nothing intelligent about letting your body go to waste.
But hey, it's your time to spend.
Just don't get in the way of those who'd rather spend their free time in a meaningful manner, whether they're your age, eight, or fifteen.
"Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent the "diseases of affluence" such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, helps to promote or maintain positive self esteem ... Health care providers often call exercise the "miracle" or "wonder" drug - alluding to the wide variety of proven benefits that it provides." - Wikipedia