The Youth Fitness Difference


Youth Fitness


“Fitness” in Early Childhood: Part I


This article is Part I of a series by Dr. Kwame M Brown. There will be more to come, including details about programming and resources for our members.


I spend all day around preschoolers and parents.  We have a great preschool here at Lee District RECenter in Franconia, VA and the teachers here are all about play!  I don’t regularly work formally with the preschool children, but interact with them and play little games with them throughout the day as they bang on my window, or I see them in the hall, or play hopscotch with them on the sidewalk outside.  Our teachers are wonderful all by themselves and don’t really need me that much. 


I am often asked how to do fitness programs for kids at this age.   The answer I often give is that the programming is easy:  Combine outdoor play (mostly) lots of pretend play and obstacle courses.  For older toddlers, you can begin adding simple tag games, crawling or hopping relays, and very simple throw, catch and kick games.  There are tons of great activities available on the web for this age group. 


The hard part:  the teaching! 


With this group you have to be in equal parts:


  1. Understanding
  2. Engaged / Energetic
  3. Patient
  4. Creative
  5. Silly
  6. Uninhibited
  7. Authoritative (for safety only)


Running a fitness program for older children and teens is as much or slightly more about the personnel as the program.  Running youth fitness programs for the preschool age is overwhelmingly about the personnel more than the program. 


If you consider yourself a fitness professional, or a highly qualified coach, you may not be successful in running preschool program.  If you, on the other hand, consider yourself a play partner, you can be incredibly successful.  Kids will ask when they will see you again.  My assistant and I have kids who run and jump into our arms when we see them!  They know that we are having fun being with them.  They know that we’re not there to get performance out of them, but to enjoy their play experiences alongside them. 


youth fitness specialist certification


Learn to Train Kids from 6 – 18 (Athletes & Non-Athletes Alike)…


with the Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1 certification









10 Responses

  1. Will Denyko says:

    Kids are the future. They are like little sponges soaking up tons of information every day. Most adults focus on what they say versus what they. You have heard the saying from your parents, while growing up. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Children mimic our actions. So challenge yourself to focus on what you do.

  2. Nick says:

    I love the Wii fit. we can reach more kids w/ video games.

  3. patricio bridgewater says:

    Hi, I’m very interrested in the Youth Fitness Specialist level I course. But I live on the island of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. How can I do this course. Or is it classical.? Can this be done on-line courde?

  4. Dr. Kwame M Brown says:


    They aren’t just sponges (though that is certainly part of their capability as young developers). They are also processors and thinkers. They observe their environments and make conclusions all their own in addition to absorbing yours.


    Not condemning the Wii Fit, but you say we can reach more kids with that…Reach them with what and to what end? Yes, it burns calories, but kids also need social interaction, nature, locomotion (which Wii provides very little of), and imagination / creativity (which Wii provides very little of) to grow. We keep making the question about how many calories are burned. For children, this is the furthest from the top of the list. This is the time where we “set the stage” for the “want” to move. Again, the Wii Fit can be a small PART of effective play/development for a young child, but not the focus of it.

  5. george maoury says:

    How true Kwame, I can’t tell you how many times I have had 4,5,and6 year olds ask their parents if coach George can come over to the house for a “play date” . G-

  6. Sara Beth says:

    Hi Patricio,

    The Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1 course is housed entirely online. We ship the course materials anywhere in the world and use an online examination software to house and grade the exam.

    You can find out more information here http://iyca.org/dev/fitspecialist1 or email any specific questions to support@iycasupport.com

  7. Great article Kwame. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting/playing with 3, 4 and 5 year olds in the past and I will admit it’s a great age to spend time with, although it’s definitely not for everyone. The kids have taught me more over the years than I ever could have taught them. In fact, at this age, I don’t really teach the kids anything. The children learn, discover and grow naturally all on their own. Although I may be interacting with them, I’m also spending time observing too. If you ever get a chance to spend time with children this age, I highly recommend it. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn.

    Thank you,


  8. Pre-school children learn through PlLAY. There is a lot of material out there on activities for this age group. Ray Pica has written many books that would be helpful for people interested in working with this age group. The big difference with this age group is their interest span. Of you have them for 20 minutes you better have 5 different activities planned, unless its and obstacle course. Also important, you need alot of wupervision with this age group. This could be 6th graders and up that you train to help you. Everybody wins.

  9. Dr. Kwame M Brown says:

    Rae Pica also has webinars available through Head Start Body Start on this very subject with TONS of great ideas (she is great and really well known in the field of early childhood development)!!! Head Start is a federally funded program (AAPAR and NASPE) with lots of usable resources.

  10. I like this comment:
    “….Kids are the future. They are like little sponges soaking up tons of information every day. Most adults focus on what they say versus what they. You have heard the saying from your parents, while growing up. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Children mimic our actions. So challenge yourself to focus on what you do….”


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