Use of personal trainers by kids on the rise - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Use of personal trainers by kids on the rise

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Some young athletes, like Jordan Bissett, dream big.

"Ever since I was about 7 years old, I always wanted to be a major league baseball player," Bissett said.

Others, like Kelsey Martinez, have a simple goal.

"I just want to compete," Martinez said, "I want to be in the game."

And to get in the game, no matter what the level, more and more young athletes are turning to personal trainers, and trend that is being seen nationally. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts jobs in the athletic training and exercise physiology field will grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Bissett plays baseball at Fuquay-Varina High School, where he's earned a scholarship to N.C. State University. He said that would not have been possible without a little help.

"I was only 140 pounds," Bissett said. "And since then, I've been working with a personal trainer for the past year, and I've gained 45 pounds."

Raul Santiago, who trains Bissett, tends to be more hands on than the average trainer.

Santiago said he goes to Bissett’s games, watches him in practice, and looks to give him feedback.

"I was a catcher and also a high school baseball coach, so I can kind of pinpoint what he needs to work on and just kind of bring that to the weight room," Santiago said.

Bissett said that all the work is worth it.

"I think this is really what it takes to get to the big leagues," Bissett said.

Milton Senter has coached for nearly 40 years. Last season he and Bissett helped the Bengals reach the 4-A state finals. Senter said when he first began coaching, players were a different breed.

"We called them farm strong," Senter said. "A lot of the kids worked on the farm. It was more of an agricultural area and they worked in the summer doing hard, physical labor. Their strength was more natural, so, there was very little in the way of weight lifting, personal training, training facilities. In fact, I don't remember any when I first began."

Senter said he played numerous sports growing up, and believes athletes today have a higher risk of burnout and injury when specializing in one. And while Senter said he believes a personal trainer would help reduce the risk of injury, he is still not a fan of the one-sport athlete.

Neither is John Dill, who coaches cross-fit athletes, including some as young as 14.

"The longer you can, keep your young ones playing as many sports as possible," Dill said, "and see which ones they naturally gravitate to. Not only is that going to keep them happier, it will also lead them to be more successful because they'll gravitate to the one they're most passionate about, which will lead them to put in the work they need to put in to excel.”

One athlete who knows what she wants to do is 13-year-old Kelsey Martinez of Harnett Central Middle School.

"I want to play soccer and volleyball," Martinez said.

But first, she and Santiago, who also trains here, have a goal in mind.

"Losing at least 10 to 20 pounds in a matter of two to four months," Santiago said. "Just make sure she's feeling a lot better about herself, her self-esteem."

Twice a week, Martinez pushes to reach that goal, even if it means doing the one exercise that

"Stairs," Martinez said. "After like the fifth or sixth time, I get a little tired."

But for Martinez, it's all worth it. She's not looking to be a college athlete, but simply "someone who is playing soccer and volleyball, being the best person they can possibly be."

Sometimes it takes a little help to get there.

"Even the best athletes in the world have personal trainers, so why not you?" Santiago said.

"I mean this is really what it takes," Bissett said, "to be that good."

"You can do it," said Martinez, "you can do it."

The cost can be expensive, with sessions often running about $50 each and many kids working with a personal trainer twice a week.

Still, interest is growing – about 1 million Americans between the age of 6 and 17 have a personal trainer.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.


* Bureau of Labor Statistics on athletic trainers

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