Exercises for the Under-18 Set Fit to be Tried 


By Gabrielle Birkner, September 8, 2008

Personal trainers, customized running programs, and group fitness classes aren't the exclusive domains of the over-18 set. The city is home to a wide range of creative exercise programs for toddlers, children, and teenagers. Details about several of these programs follow.

Kids Fitness NYC

About three years ago, after fielding a number of calls from parents worried about their children's weight, personal trainer Elle Shindler decided to devote herself to training children and teenagers, teaching them in small-group exercise classes at gyms, city parks, and in private homes. "A lot of children were starting school early and ending very late," she said. "Between school and television, computers and Game Boys, they didn't have an outlet for exercise."

Today, Mrs. Shindler and her team of instructors train some 150 clients ages 7 to 17, working with them to assess their fitness levels and goals, and to develop age-appropriate exercise regimens that take into account youngsters' preferences. Sessions may include hopping in a potato sack, jumping rope, and variations on yoga and Pilates exercises.

For more information, call 212-396-3478 / 917-392-0511 or visit

Personal training sessions, $120 a child; home- or gym-based group sessions, $45 a child, with a minimum of five children.

  Bustin’ Baby Fat 

By Jessica Simeone, November 3rd, 2009

Appearance-obsessed parents in the Big Apple are hiring personal trainers for their preteens, shelling out $95 an hour to whip their little dumplings — some as young as 5 — into shape.

Jennifer Dimuro of TriBeCa hired a personal trainer to hit the gym with her 8-year-old son, Julian, after he packed on some pounds on a family vacation.

“We spent the whole summer traveling through France and Italy and eating, and I could see he was putting on a little weight,” she said.

“Julian’s idea of recreation is a food tour in the West Village.”

So Julian meets with his trainer, Mitch Baseman, weekly for an hourlong routine of stretching, jogging, resistance training with a rubber band and doing squats followed by step-ups and hip raises.

Without the fitness sessions, Dimuro said, her son would have scant time to work off his baby fat. The family’s so busy, she said, they can’t find time to teach Julian to ride a bicycle.

Like most city kids, Julian’s days are jam-packed with extracurricular activities. And most of them — Spanish class, piano class, art class — don’t involve exercise.

“City kids do not have time to be active,” said Elle Shindler, an Upper East Side mother of two who started a kiddie personal-training business after realizing her own girls hardly ever broke a sweat.

“After fifth grade, homework is all consuming,” she said.

Shindler’s Kid Fitness business caters to parents who want to keep their offspring lean.

Since opening three years ago, demand has skyrocketed, she said. She now has a staff of seven trainers who take care of kids either one-on-one or in group classes.

One of Shindler’s perky trainers, Alison Gritz, 24, disguises her workouts as hip-hop classes and dishes out compliments to coax her pint-size, sometimes-cranky clients into performing.

“Straighten that back leg, Annabelle. Your other right arm, Libby. Beautiful, ladies,” she said during a session for three 8-year-olds in a Manhattan apartment.

Personal trainers need to keep the sessions fun, said nutritionist and pediatric specialist Jenner Medina, or they risk putting too much pressure on the kids.

“Regarding the children I work with, many of the parents say their girls, in particular, start complaining about their bellies as young as 5,” Medina said.

Family psychologist John Rosemond, an expert on parenting, blasted the fad, calling it the latest in “trophy parenting.”

“The way to deal with chubbiness is to feed a kid properly and let them have some fun outside — not micromanage every inch of their lives,” Rosemond said.

“They’re trying to raise trophy children — children they can brag about at cocktail parties.”

New Yorkers Set to Fight Childhood Obesity with First Lady

By Emily Ngo, February 10, 2010

New Yorkers need to throw their full weight into combating childhood obesity, an epidemic in Gotham, where cramped play areas and limited access to healthy foods are too often the norm, health experts said Tuesday.

“They’re apartment-bound and don’t have as much green space to go out and play as children in other areas,” said Lynn Silver, an assistant commissioner at the city health department.

The problem of childhood obesity gained new traction Tuesday as first lady Michelle Obama launched a national campaign — her largest initiative yet — to help kids slim down.

One in three children nationally are overweight or obese, leaving them more prone to such illnesses as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The situation is even more dire here, city officials said.

“This isn’t like a disease where we’re still waiting for the cure,” Obama said. “We have to act, so let’s move.”

New Yorkers on Tuesday shared Obama’s concerns.

Elle Shindler, 39, founded Kids Fitness NYC, a personal training service on the Upper East Side, when she realized that her children only had two hours a week for recess. “Two hours a week of giving them a ball and letting them run. It’s worthless,” she said.

Limited access to nutritious foods is another cause of obesity, experts said. Lower-income areas of the city, such as parts of the Bronx and Harlem, have higher rates of overweight or obese children.

“We’re in fast-food hell over here!” said Michelle Pyles, co-owner of The Little Gym in Harlem, one of the area’s few exercise facilities for children.

Also in lower-income areas, sometimes homes lack adequate refrigeration to keep food fresh, said Kate MacKenzie, a dietitian with City Harvest, which tracks city hunger stats.

The city is, however, leading the country in efforts to right the situation, the city health department pointed out, with initiatives such as replacing whole milk with 1 percent milk in school lunches and offering salad at high schools.

Combating childhood obesity begins with simple things, New Yorkers said.

Parents can promote exercise despite cramped apartments by jumping rope or climbing stairs with their children, Shindler said.

Children should take advantage of free breakfasts at public schools, in order to start the day right, MacKenzie said.

Planning ahead also helps, advised Idalia Ortiz, 30, of Harlem, who has a daughter. “I carry my food with me instead of letting her get distracted with McDonald’s,” she said.

Taneish Hamilton contributed to this story.


Please contact us at:

Main: (212)396-3478

Text: (917) 392-0511