S taying active early in life is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle now and in the long run. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children and adolescents get 60 minutes or more of physical exercise each day. But only one in three children are active each day, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Youth fitness programs are a great way for kids to start creating healthy habits, while getting one hour of exercise in a fun, social environment. The kids programs at North Wall Rock Climbing Gym in Crystal Lake are a unique way for children of all ages to get and stay fit.
“It’s very important for kids to become active when they’re young, because it’s an impressionable age,” says gym manager Steve Landon. “They’re developing skills and habits that are going to last a lifetime. If they’re not challenged when they’re young, and they try to start later, it can be a lot more difficult.”
The programs at North Wall are designed to teach kids proper climbing techniques. This can include learning how to boulder, belay, top rope, tie knots and play different climbing games. The program focuses on balance, motor skills, flexibility and core strength.
And the sport offers more than just physical benefits. Kids also will flex their cognitive muscles with team building and problem solving activities.
“I think climbing is good for kids because it definitely challenges them when it comes to problem solving,” says Landon. “It’s a physical activity as well as a mental one.”
It’s common for younger children, or those that have never climbed before, to be nervous about heights. But climbing can be a great way for kids to face their fears in a safe, positive environment.
“When you’re attached to a rope, you can push past those boundaries and get more comfortable with facing fears and confronting challenges,” says Landon.
North Wall offers a summer program and an after-school program. These programs are open to all skill levels for kids age 6 to 13. The summer program runs from June to August. The season is split into one-week sessions, with classes from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Kids can take part in one session or several.
The after school program runs throughout the school year, from September to May. Each session is three weeks long and includes three consecutive Wednesdays of climbing lessons from 4 to 6 p.m. Equipment rentals are included in both programs.
Kids that want to try their hand at climbing before signing up for a program can drop in during open gym hours. Day passes are $7 for children age 9 and younger, and $10 for those ages 10 to 17. Equipment is available for rent, including shoes, harnesses, belay devices and chalk bags.
IF YOU GONorth Wall Rock Climbing Gym 824 S. Main St., Suite 106 Crystal Lake 815-356-6855 www.climbnorthwall.com
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