Training a Boy: It’s All About Repetition

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“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle
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Meet Ethan Seve Ngo. Ethan is not your typical 11-year-old because he already has the intelligence of an adult but retains the cuteness of a toddler! He is energetic, bubbly and effortlessly charismatic.
Stop sitting and start moving!
According to Shawn Arent, an exercise scientist at Rutgers University, a minimum of three days per week of a structured exercise program is needed to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
We all need to get moving. But children need to move more! Let’s not rob our kids of a life of fun and play! When we were young, our metabolism was naturally fast and our bodies were like Energizer bunnies. But growing up in today’s world makes it extremely challenging for kids and teens to go outside, play and tap into their limitless energy. Unlike the time of our parents and grandparents when most of the games and activities were done outside, “play” in today’s world is happening inside—in the virtual world. Many children grow up being chronically addicted to video games. This compromises their physical development, impairs their mental health, and stagnates their social growth.
“A minimum of three days per week, for a structured exercise program. Technically, you should do something every day, and by something I mean physical activity – just move. Because we’re finding more and more that the act of sitting counteracts any of the activity you do.” — Shawn Arent
Regular exercise helps children manage stress, increase their focus in school, keep a healthy weight, and strengthen their muscles, joints and bones. Furthermore, following a nutritious diet can help them keep illness at bay. Real wealth is when one grows up healthy and is able to express healthy genes into their adulthood. Epigenetics FTW!
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Unlike the time of our parents and grandparents when most of the games and activities were done outside, “play” in today’s world is happening inside—in the virtual world. Many children grow up being chronically addicted to video games. This compromises their physical development, impairs their mental health, and stagnates their social growth.
Meet Ethan Seve Ngo. Ethan is not your typical 11-year-old because he already has the intelligence of an adult but retains the cuteness of a toddler! He is energetic, bubbly and effortlessly charismatic. He regularly updates me about his favorite video games and he also likes talking about his shenanigans with his friends. For Ethan, his friendships teach him about the importance of compassion and teamwork. His natural intelligence and his well-developed social skills are such a lethal combination that it stops adults in their tracks to give Ethan a tight hug, a friendly tickle, or even engage with him in a deep, thoughtful conversation. To complete his development as a preteen, his parents decided to include some fitness in his life. They could not have made a better decision!
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According to Shawn Arent, an exercise scientist at Rutgers University, a minimum of three days per week of a structured exercise program is needed to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
I’ve had the privilege of training him for the past month. His progress has been exponential! Not only did he begin losing weight and moving with proper form and coordination, he also recently told me that he did really well in his Calisthenics class in school. He proudly shared that he finished among the top 10 out of 50 kids in his batch! He was such an overweight kid before that ranking high in anything fitness-related was way out of the picture in the past. He now enjoys and excels in sports! Woohoo! However, what struck me the most was when he said that he could’ve finished faster and ranked higher but he decided to wait for his friends Vince and Sean so they would finish together. My heart is full. Ethan is not only improving on his health and fitness goals, he is also becoming a better human being! Real strength goes beyond what we can do with our bodies and flows into every aspect of our lives–most especially our relationships with our family, peers, and eventually the larger communities that we are called to serve.
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I’ve had the privilege of training him for the past month. His progress has been exponential! Not only did he begin losing weight and moving with proper form and coordination, he also recently he told me that he did really well in his Calisthenics class in school. He proudly shared that he finished among the top 10 out of 50 kids in his batch.
“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” — Morihei Ueshiba
Here’s a sample workout that I created for Ethan. You might want to give it a try!
  1. 15 minute hike on the treadmill for his warm up.
  2. 4 rounds of 10 meter military crawls, 10 medicine ball thrusters (squat to press) and 10 leg presses with 2 to 3 minutes rest in between sets.
  3. Then he cools down to slowly lower his heart rate by walking for 3 minutes on the treadmill.
  4. Lastly, we incorporate static stretching to prevent tightness in his muscles.

The whole workout would approximately take us 45 minutes to an hour to finish. We start with a hike to get his heart rate going and to warm up his body. This is important to prime the muscles and joints which in turn would stave off injury. Then we do 4 rounds of a circuit (see number 2) which incorporates strength and functional movements. To cap it off, we cool down to slowly allow his body to go back into a resting state. Since recovery is more important than the actual exercise, we never skip the cool down which is the beginning of the recovery phase. After he has gone back to a resting state, we stretch his muscles to prevent it from tightening and to facilitate proper blood circulation. This would kick-start the delivery of nutrients to the muscles and speed up the healing process. The overall aim is to just keep him moving with intention while teaching him proper movement patterns. This will ensure that he is exercising safely, efficiently, and productively.

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It’s very important for kids like Ethan to first enjoy his training so that he’ll have the motivation to be consistent. It’s all about play!
It’s very important for kids like Ethan to first enjoy his training so that he’ll have the motivation to be consistent. It’s all about play! Since he began enjoying doing what is difficult and painful, he gained the boost and drive to do well in Calisthenics class! It also is a game-changer for him having a mom that is addicted to fitness herself! Ethan’s curiosity over fitness began when he saw his mom join a fitness competition. It really does take a community of like-minded people to raise up a child. The parents and the mentors play their respective roles in building the strength and character of our kids by creating environments that allow growth. At this stage of his fitness journey, it all boils down to enjoyment, persistence, and a pursuit of constant improvement no matter how small the steps are. That’s my current goal for him and I couldn’t be more proud that he is doing a really awesome job.

“Strength is gained in the range it is trained.” – Charles Poliquin

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