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Keeping kids fit.

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TWO concerned Bahraini mothers have opened a specialist gym for children to help tackle the kingdom's obesity crisis and provide a safe haven for youngsters to stay fit.

Sports activities and exercise builds up children's confidence and self-esteem especially among those who are overweight and unfit, they believe.

"The rate of children suffering from obesity is increasing, not only in Bahrain but in the whole world," said 36-year-old co-founder of Funfit Kid's Gym, Suhaila Al Arrayadh.

"There are many factors behind the increasing rate of obesity such as lack of movement, sitting for hours in front of the television or the computer and bad eating habits.

"In Bahrain, we don't have parks where we can take our children for a nice walk or a game of football, plus the weather is very hot and humid during summer and it is impossible for anyone to do any outdoor activity.

"That is why I and my partner Frozan Frotan came up with the idea of a gym centre for little boys and girls where they can enjoy practicing various kinds of exercises in a fun environment."

Funfit Kid's Gym will open on Saturday in Saar, near the University College of Bahrain, for boys and girls aged five to 15 from Saturdays to Thursdays from 3pm to 7pm.

The pair have invested BD30,000 into the project and are hopeful the investment will prove popular.

"We have employed two female gym instructors," said Suhaila. "Our machines are manufactured in Canada and are designed and made especially for children. We have cardio and hydraulic equipment.

"In the cardio machine section we have a moonwalker which helps build up the arms and leg muscles and is suitable for children aged six to 11 years, there is also the lateral ski trainer which uses the whole body's muscles and is good for kids aged nine to 15."

The centre is also equipped with treadmills and bicycle. "The hydraulic machines are good for the upper and lower parts of the body. There is no weight in the machines, just air, so there will be no pressure on their joints," said Suhaila.

"These machines will make your children burn the fat and have good posture."

Suhaila said classes will also include bar aerobics, dance aerobics, kick boxing as well as circuit classes.

"People usually are sceptical when it comes to new things in town, that is normal and understandable, but once they realise that our machines are designed for their little ones and that it will not harm them in any way, I am sure they will feel at ease and grasp the concept of improving health," she added.

Suhaila took her two daughters Hala,10, and Tala, five, and Frozan took her children Yas, 16, and Masood,10, plus friends, to the gym to put it to the test and to study their reactions.

"We didn't want to provide a service to people without trying them on our children first. Both I and Frozan wanted to make sure that the equipment was really safe and to check the reaction of the boys and girls," she said. "They tried the equipment and did some kick boxing classes and they loved it!"

The centre will also provide one-to-one classes for children who suffer from obesity and may feel shy around other children. Frozan added: "We will also try to get to know why the child is obese, why he, or she, finds comfort in over-eating and gradually work from there."

Frozan said classes for teenage girls and boys will be staged on separate days. "Traditionally speaking, most families in Bahrain don't accept their daughters mixing up with boys in the same classes, that is why we have kept them on different days," she explained.

Classes for adult women will be held in the mornings. There are various membership plans which start from BD50. For further details contact 17792767.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Oct 19, 2008
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