In an age where helicopter parents -- more Cobra than Channel 10 -- drive their kids into athletics envisioning dollar signs instead of health, it is little wonder that sport specific injuries and burn out are becoming more commonplace among youth.
"We are definitely seeing more sports and fitness related injuries in young kids," said Scott Holliday, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics with Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Sport specific motions, such as pitching, can put undue stress on young ligaments.
"As they are pushed to do more, we have seen a definite rise in the past few years," Holliday said.
Doug Grosser, owner of Performance Athletics Training at 692 West Schyukill Road in Pottstown, hopes to turn the tide.
"We're focusing on training for youth fitness and sports, although we'll do adult fitness training as well," Grosser said. "Fitness training will start at six years old through adult, sports training a little bit older -- like nine years old and up from there. The training is for any fitness goal and any sports."
Grosser noticed that the current trend in child exercise was to work on sport specific skills, rather than have the child gain the fitness base needed for a healthy lifestyle. Grosser orients his training to be fun and active for all ages.
"For the younger kids, its more organized play," Grosser said. "Their activities are more fun, less structured. It's less skills based; it's more movement based. We just want to keep them moving, really. As they get older we get a little more technical, with their strength training, with their speed training, they're agility stuff. We'll get more specific with their sports as they get older."
Grosser studied at West Chester University, earning a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. He also has a strength and conditioning specialist certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a corrective exercise specialist certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a youth fitness specialist certification from the International Youth Conditioning Association.
Performance is well lit and warm, its wealth of open floor space and lack of selectorized machines hallmarks of a facility that puts wellness first. Free weights, agility ladders, jump ropes and resistance bands are joined by an array of medicine balls and top 40 hits on an ipod in the corner.
The focus on health is not limited to just exercise.
"We'll cover basic nutrition with the kids, and get more in depth as they get older," Grosser said. "That's a big part of the overall program."
Sessions are by appointment. Performance offers one-on-one training, as well as small group training, with groups consisting of up to four children.
"After the holidays we'll be offering regularly scheduled classes for all ages," Grosser said.
Traditional mainstays like football, basketball and soccer are among the sports specific programs at Performance. More unusual offerings listed on their web site include equestrian, skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing.
Grosser hopes to set up a healthy foundation for a lifetime of fitness and activity with Performance Athletics Training.
"We want to focus on complete development of them athletically," he said. "It's not, especially at the younger age … always about a specific performance."