You may know this hunk as The Bachie AKA The Bachelor from Channel Tens hit series. But we know him as Sam Wood from Gecko Sports and were lucky enough to catch up with him and chat all about kids fitness and The Bachelor of course. 😉
Sam is the founder of the first kids fitness facility in Australia – Gecko Sports. He shares with you his best tips to get the kiddies moving, active and most importantly having fun. Plus he shares his non negotiables when it comes to health and his views on being the best role models for our younger generation.
I hope you enjoy.
Tell us a little bit about you and your journey?
Hi, my name is Sam Wood and I am the founder and managing director at Gecko Sports. I also have another health and fitness company called the Wood Shed. After doing Personal Training with kids and being absolutely inundated with children’s PT appointments I realized that kids just aren’t active enough. I thought if there was an environment suited just for children and a program specifically suited for them it would be extremely popular which is where Gecko Sports came from. Within the first 3 months of launching we had over 400 kids enroll and it has grown from there and I absolutely love what I do.
So what is Gecko Sports?
Gecko Sports was Australia’s first ever kids health and fitness center, we opened in 2008 in Hampton Victoria and now run them in over 35 franchises around Australia in standalone locations or in schools which is typically a part of our after school care programs.
We run after school programs that are sports and fitness based, all age specific. So we have a 5 – 8 year old program, and a 9 – 12 year old program and a teen program.
The kids develop direct skills through a range of different sports, as well as developing their balance, strength, co-ordination, endurance, flexibility, posture and motor skills but most importantly it is about having fun, getting active, building confidence and just enjoying and learning about sports with friends.
The other service we provide is kid’s birthday parties, football parties, basketball party, a soccer world cup or a mini Olympics for primary school age.
Why do you feel kid’s fitness is so important?
I just think this is when children develop the habits that they have for the rest of their life and we now live in a world were PT is less prevalent within the school curriculum. Parents are more concerned about kids playing on the streets and walking and cycling to and from school, which I understand they are all legitimate concerns but the bottom line is kids are not moving enough. When you combine that with the fact that they are not making terribly good food choices we have a real issue with childhood obesity.
I know from my own experience, if you fall in love with sport from a young age then 9 times out of 10 that passion for exercise and sport sticks with you for life and you really have to engrain those important qualities in at a young age.
For parents that are looking to get their kids active but not really know where to start, what would be your best advice for them?
I think you need to talk to your children and listen to them and no matter how out there, strange or main stream it seems, and where ever it fits on the spectrum let them do it. I know it is hard juggling everything as a parent but you need to give your children the opportunity to try out as many different sports and activities as possible because It’s not often the first thing will stick. They may try four different activities over 4 school terms, or 10 activities over 2 years before one of those activities sticks for them.
What are the biggest results you have seen with the group sessions and kids fitness?
We have had everything from teenagers that have lost 30kgs to things that have nothing to do with weight. The main thing we see is increased motor skills, increased confidence, a changed attitude towards sports and fitness. It’s no longer a chore, its fun and they enjoy it and the benefits become secondary because they are having a good time and I think that’s where you need to get kids too. If they are thinking about “why am I here” the whole time no matter what the sporting pursuit is, there will be no sustainability and eventually they will drop off. This is why you need to try as many things as possible. Kids are quirky, they don’t stick at it the same reasons we stick at it. They are not looking at long term health benefits or trying to get in shape for the wedding in 6 weeks. They want immediate gratification, they need to like their coach, be doing it with friends, and they need to be having fun the whole time.
Obviously it is important for parents to get involved and become role models for their children. Generally speaking (and this is general) the parents are often the role models and are also overweight and sticking their children in front of the T.V rather than moving together. So tell us a little about The Wood Shed and what approach you have for the adults?
The Wood Shed is a separate business to Gecko and it is group PT and Personal Training based facility. It is really just putting the personal touch into adults getting themselves into shape. From an education perspective, inspiration perspective, and giving them a plan to stick too. Most adults train aimlessly. They don’t have a plan, they don’t know what they are training for, some have even been going to the gym 3 times a week for 5 years and still are not in good shape. So we are a results based place.
Obviously there is a connection there with Gecko and I am a huge believer that parents do need to be good role models. I believe parents can probably think that that is more responsibility than it really is. Being a good role model doesn’t mean you have to have a six pack and train for an hour and a half every day. It means you make good food choices in an example for your kids, so when you do the grocery shopping you lead by example. When you are getting takeaway you make smarter choices. Primary school children don’t go out and do their own shopping do their fate is in your hands and you need to take that responsibility on board. I am horrified by how little activity parents do with their children. Taking the dog for a walk, or going to the park or kicking the footy should be a joy to do with your children and I just don’t see that enough and think it is a real shame!
What is the minimum activity level a child should be doing per day?
The recommendation is a minimum of 60 minutes a day, and I think something parents do is assume a lot of that happens at school each day when it doesn’t! P.E is not every day and if it is, it is not necessarily for 60 minutes and even when it is for 60 minutes, it is not necessarily full on activity. Even in a sport or P.E context the kids that don’t want to move, won’t and the kids that are sporty will run around all day, but there is a huge drop off between the two. I think you need to take a close look at how many minutes of activity your child is doing, and not just assume it is happening because they go to a school where they preach activity is important that it is necessarily happening.
As a health professional, what are your non-negotiable when it comes to your health and fitness?
I train both for a physical and peace of mind aspect as far as my own training is concerned. I am a big believer in variety and doing something every day and keeping it fresh. I think you need to continually shock your body. I will always find a minimum 28 minutes and do something every day whether it be swim, ride, take the dog for a jog or do some functional training in the gym. I am not into just lifting weights for lifting weights. I try and combat sitting at my desk which means good core and mobility exercises and still keep lean, fit and healthy. The key then is to match it with a well-balanced diet.
From a nutritional point of view is there any foods you try and avoid?
Yeah just processed foods. I am not strict Paleo or anything. I love chocolate and will have a beer with my mates but 90% of the time I eat healthy unprocessed foods with lots of fruit, vegetables and meat and not too many highly refined carbohydrates or sugars.
How do you spend the first 80 minutes of your day?
I usually take the dog for a 15 minutes stroll to give the dog what he needs and to clear my head and listen to the radio. I then do some gentle mobility stuff because I am getting old (LOL) which I have never done before, but this year I think I have been spending too much time in planes, cars and at my desk. I usually just get the foam roller out and roll out. I am not a good morning person so I find it wakes me up, clears my head for the day and I am able to work out what I need to do and get everything in order so I don’t have to worry about it the night before. I think it can inhibit your sleep and I like to wake up fresh an hour before I know I have anything on, no matter what that time is.
Tell us where our FW family can find you?
I hope you have enjoyed another inspirational interview. Stay tuned for next week.