You can blame my parents, they made me like this. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving...thanks Mom, thanks Dad! I surely would not be the merciless, unsympathetic, disciplinarian personal trainer I am today if it weren't for them.
All kidding aside my parents are a very big part of the reason I made fitness my career. At an early age the pushed me towards athletics and for whatever strange reason I actually enjoyed exercising. More specifically, I enjoyed strength exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, rope climbing, etc.
When I learned that all the guys big muscles lifted weights I was intrigued. I was also 8 years old and my parents were not about to let me lift weights because it could "stunt my growth" (more on this myth later). However like most kids, once you tell them they can't do something it drives their desire to do it to even greater heights. So I proceeded to beg, plead and bug them to let me lift weights.
They wouldn't concede. But they did promise that once I turned thirteen I could start lifting.
The common belief then, and even today, is that weight training in adolescents will damage their growth plates. Contrary to this widely held belief there has never been a single research study or any documented proof of this occurring, especially in an controlled exercise environment with proper supervision.
I don't know what other 13-year-olds got for their birthday in 1990 but for me it was a universal weight machine. Almost instantly a third of my parents basement was transformed into "Mike's Gym." An obsession begins.
Today we know far more about the benefits of strength training for adolescents yet we here little and see even less. Despite research and empirical evidence showing that adolescents can build strength, increase musculature, improve endurance and conditioning, manage their body fat, and strengthen their bones and joints, few youth strength training programs exist. This month at my private personal training studio (the grown up version of Mike's Gym) my staff and I are rolling out our new youth program pure physique junior.
It's our hope that one day the kids who make their way through PURE PHYSIQUE can look back and thank their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and coaches for getting them involved in strength training at an early and influential age. Who knows, they might just go on to become a fitness professional!