Encouraging Kids To Live Healthy

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - March 10, 2010
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Katie Woomer

Katie Woomer, who turns 8 next month, has been her mom Irina’s little cheerleader at various fitness competitions for the last four years.

Now they’ll be competing together in the 2010 Stingrey Classic Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini Championship April 23 at the Pacific Beach Hotel Grand Ballroom. It’s the first year that event promoters/owners Pebblz and Rey Ronquilio added a junior’s division (age 8 to 19).

“When I was Mrs. Hawaii (in 2006), I worked with a lot of kids, and my husband has this passion for fitness,” explains Pebblz. “There are so many kids out there that don’t have anything to do other than sit in front of the TV, so we wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

According to Pebblz, the junior competitors are judged on their confidence and overall stage presence. “We’re not looking for the big bulkiness or the protein shake kid,” she says. “We’re looking for somebody who’s fit (lean and trim) and is a good role model for the younger people. It can be a football player, a paddler or someone right off the beach and they look good playing volleyball.”

The girls also must prepare a gymnastics/dance routine that includes a one-arm push-up, high kick, leg extension hold, straddle hold and/or full split side. Girls age 8-10 need only two of these five mandatory moves, age 11-15 must have three and age 16-19 four.

Girls age 8 to 15 are not judged on their physique but rather their strength, flexibility, overall impression, performance quality, tumbling, tricks/jumps, dance, transitions, choreography, creativity and costume. They also are looking for someone who is not overly muscled, but has balance and a toned and fit look.

In preparation for the upcoming competition, Woomer has been training three hours a day, three to four times a week. Her training includes gymnastics, cardio and stretching.

“I’m very proud of her,” says Irina. “We try to teach her to live a healthy lifestyle. She’s very competitive and artistic, so this is perfect for her.

“As a family, we’re very active. We travel, swim and snorkel. We also don’t eat fast food. We eat home-cooked meals and natural foods.”

As for bodybuilding for children, Dr. Byron Izuka, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at The Queen’s Medical Center, says the American Academy on Pediatrics is clear that they don’t condone bodybuilding for preadoles-cents or anyone who hasn’t reached physical maturity.

“The rationale for that is when you’re a preadolescent, you’re not producing enough androgens, such as testosterone, which are necessary to build lean muscle mass,” explains Izuka. “If it’s just going to the gym and lifting weights to get stronger and for resistance training, that’s fine. But weight lifting, power lifting or bodybuilding as a sport, where you’re lifting the maximum number of weights and lifting to compete against another person in a sport environment, we do not condone that.”

Pebblz agrees, noting that the emphasis for the junior’s division is on fitness. “We just want to raise awareness in men, women and the younger generation that there are different ways to live your life,” she says. “It’s not about how much weight you can lift. It’s about your health, and that’s important because it can help you to live a longer life. I wish I knew these things when I was younger.”

Registration deadline for the Stingrey Classic is April 17. For details, visit www.stingreyclassic.com.

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