Virgin Active- ‘Active Crew’ review

 

We were invited to be one of the first to try a new exercise class soon to be launched in Jan 2015 aimed at 8-16 year olds in particular called ‘Active crew’. My 14 year old son decided he would give it a go to see what it was like.

We headed over to The Virgin Active Club in Acton were the launch was taking place and were lucky enough to grab a chat with the founder of ZUU Chimps, Nathan Helberg who was extremely lovely, chatty and enthusiastic about the exercises the kids were about to try. He explained how it was fun so kids didn’t realise that they were exercising and empowers them at the same time.

The class itself was broken down into several stages ranging from ‘animalistic’ style movements to  coordination and agility style exercises that included the use of Sandbells and Fitlights with rest periods in between and a lot of high fiving along the way. Another element of the Active Crew is SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) training, a programme that has actually been used by a variety of sports starts from Andy Murrey to the Manchester United Football Team.

At first my youngest thought the exercises were a bit weird considering they were called ‘gorilla’ and ‘bear’ and ‘iguana’ amongst others! But as the time went on and the high fiving continued he felt more relaxed within the group which is essentially one of the key characteristics of the class anyway.

103_Virgin Active Crew[1]

317_Virgin Active Crew[1] 326_Virgin Active Crew[1] 327_Virgin Active Crew[1] 341_Virgin Active Crew[1] 355_Virgin Active Crew[1]   As you can see by these pictures that were taken during the class  all the kids were definitely engaged and focused with all the range of exercises they were asked to try. The fact that it’s non competitive meant that the ones who were shy or embarrassed at the start of the class weren’t overpowered by either louder, or stronger kids that were taking part, and this part of the class is just as important as the exercise itself. It’s fun games, that do not exclude anyone, that get 8-16year olds off their backsides, away from the technology that is taking over their lives and socialising face to face with other kids and adults in a friendly, safe environment.

This is the group my son took part in complete with the Virgin Active Crew and Founder of Zuu Chimps, Nathan Helberg

This is the group my son took part in complete with the Virgin Active Crew and Founder of Zuu Chimps, Nathan Helberg They all look pretty happy to me!

When I chatted to my son afterwards he said he enjoyed it, that it was something different and that his legs had literally gone to jelly!!!

The exercise could in effect be done in the smallest of places with no real fancy equipment so could be suitable for a number of groups, for instance, we are volunteer leaders at our local Cub Scout group and some of the exercises based on animal movements would be a great activity to run for that age group. So we will be calling on my son ( as a young leader) at the group to put the kids through their paces soon!

Active Crew is currently running in 25 clubs and will be launching nationwide in Jan 2015. To find your nearest club visit www.virginactive.co.uk

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.”
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Gift Ideas for Older Teenage Boys

xmas gift pic for blog

When your children are young it’s easy to get ideas for Christmas, lets face it their lists normally have absolutely everything except the kitchen sink on them. Every time they see an advert for something they want it.

However, when they get older it gets a little more difficult. My boys are now 16 an 14, they have all their gadgets either bought as gifts or saved for and bought by themselves. That makes finding something to get them for Christmas that not only do they want or need but that doesn’t cost an absolute arm and a leg. I have definitely found that as they have grown up their pressies have got smaller and smaller in size yet the value has increased tenfold!

My youngest is in need of a new portable TV for his room ( something they have both been allowed from the age of 13 as we live in a small house and I do not want xbox and 2 smelly teens constantly fighting over who’s turn it is in my front room!  so shoot me now for being a bad mother, but that’s how it is here.) So I have a main present for him and that can be easily filled out with DVD’s, CD’s, a boardgame or two, some clothes and treats.

My eldest though is much more difficult as h has his game station, tv, Ipod and docking station, phone and all the usual trappings. When I have talked to him about some ideas he has just asked for a few DVD’s and that’s it!! NOT Helpful, and I do not agree with giving my children money on these occasions as I tend to ask family to give them money so they can save for the bigger items when they want them. So I have had really had to dig deep for ideas and trawl the internet and shops looking. I was looking mainly for what would be a ‘main’ pressie for him.

I thought I would share a few here……..

1. Some Young Driver lessons. These are available Nationwide at a different locations and we have one near us so this is a definite for my 16 yr old this year. They are normally around about £30 for a half hour lesson. My youngest has tried these already as he is a total petrol head and says 30 mins is long enough at a time as there is so much to concentrate on that he came out exhausted LOL. So I will be getting my eldest a few lessons in preparation for his 17th b’day in April when he will be starting lessons properly.

2. Experience Day Vouchers. These are more expensive but for a teenage boy of around 16 some of these are amazing as a main present at Christmas. Virgin Experience offer allsorts from indoor skydiving, Go-Ape, snowboarding to the more adventurous Zombie Survival!! So for an older teenage boy who has all the gadgets etc and doesn’t know what he wants, one of these would be perfect I think.

3.Unlimited Cinema Card. If your teen is a real cinema lover ( my youngest is like me and adores going to the cinema) and tends to go with his friends a lot the cost could add up very quickly! Therefore, why not treat them with an unlimited Cineworld card. These cost around £16.40 per month on a direct debit ( which is less that most of their mobile phone contracts these days) and that way you can spread the cost throughout the year as well. This will allow them unlimited visits andmoney off on food and drink and also no booking fees if they book online for a film. A yearly one will set you back £196.80 which is a huge outlay in one go, but equally you could get family to pitch in with an amount that they were going to spend anyway and make it a main present.

 4. Merlin annual pass. This will allow your teens unlimited entry to a wide range of attractions. For us we are near London so this would include Thorpe Park, Chessington, The Dungeons, Sealife and the London Eye and Madame Tousauds. My 16 yr old already has days were all his friends meet up and spend a day in London and my youngest loves Thorpe Park so again as a main present this would suit loads of teens. It isn’t cheap at £169 for a year pass but lets face it against a game console/ mobile phone it probably works out cheaper and they get a years worth of visits that you then don’t have to fork out for when money is tight throughout the year.

5. Magazine subscription. These can be easily found online and can either be for 6 months, 1 year or even a 2 year subscription. They cover everything, and I mean everything a teen could possibly be interested in, from photography, cars, fishing, computers, film  to all the different games consoles you can think of! Really there is something for everyone and it means that they receive their favourite magazine through the post every month without any effort by them or even you ( once it has been ordered obviously). These vary in price depending on what magazine you actually order but an example would be the Xbox magazine which comes in at £48.99 for 13 issues!!! Brilliant value as each magazine is then only £3.77each.

Now obviously I have looked at things that would be suitable for boys as I’m a mum of boys but to be honest the above 5 ideas are great for teenage girls as well. I always like to get them a ‘main’ present and then fill it out around that so I understand that some of these are a little expensive, but I’m sure you will agree some of them last them all year round and so are definitely worth the extra money, in comparison to a new PlayStation or Xbox game that costs around the £40 mark.

I would love to hear some of your ideas too.

 

When did 16 become the new 18?

 

I have certainly noticed this recently as I have a son who turned 16 in April and the trend seems to have appeared where the parents throw their little 16yr old cherubs a party at home, complete with alcohol.

First of all I didn’t do this and my son was very happy to get a load of his mates together for a boys day out paintballing. However, he has recently been to one or two of these parties although one was for a 17yr old. Second of all I don’t really think it’s appropriate to be encouraging your 16 or 17yr old son or daughter to drink accessibly in your house. You may be able to trust your own child but really is it a good idea to let all their mates loose in your house with alcohol at the ready.

This has made me think back to when I was 16 ( which is many, many moons ago now!). I remember going out with my friends acquiring a bottle of cider that we would all share and then make my way home, scuttling to my room before I had to face my parents hoping they didn’t realise I had been drinking. We used to sneak a drink is what I’m getting at, I was never allowed to have a drink at that age at home regardless until I was actually 18 and I was certainly never brave enough to ever get blatantly drunk at that age! When you turned 18 that was when you would maybe have had a party and obviously the big thing was that you could actually go up to the bar and order your own drink!

So for this era of teens everything seems to be getting earlier and earlier, almost to the point of what on earth do they have to look forward to.

Now I used to be of the opinion that I would not supply my son with alcohol nor would he drink underage in my house. However, a year or two ago I did attend an event by Drinkaware which concentrated more on teaching your teen to be sensible with alcohol. I mean they may see you drink your glass or two of wine at night to unwind, or get drunk at family get togethers or parties, therefore it made more sense not to do one thing but tell them another, but to teach them responsibility around alcohol.

I know everyone will have their own opinion on this but it is less of a black and white issue these days. I have been lucky so far as my eldest hasn’t seem in a hurry to have a drink or get drunk but I know my youngest who is 14 will certainly be a different story, so I am at least hoping to gain some experience via my eldest and have learned by any mistakes I may make with him along the way.

For now though I feel lucky as my eldest who has started going to more parties has openly said there will be alcohol there and that some of his mates will be drinking. We offer him a lift there and back and are on the end of the phone waiting for any problems. We have told him at any of these parties if anything occurs and gets out of hand he is to go outside and call us to come and get him. He also made us proud a few weeks ago when he went to his friends party and ended up looking after another of his friends( who had actually lied to his parents about where he was going) and then they called his mum to come and get him as he was starting to get aggressive due to drinking too much. I certainly would rather know where my teen is and what he is doing and at least be prepared than be the mortified and furious parent who is called to come and get my son due to him being ‘plastered’! We did have a chat about what had happened and I did tell him they had done the right thing phoning the boy’s mum. It did lead on to a great conversation about how easy it is for that age group to quickly overdrink and feel the affects afterwards, which they are unable to control.

What is worrying though is when will 14 become the new 16!

** NOT A SPONSORED POST** I just wanted to spread word about their website which has lots of great information. For more go to drinkaware.co.uk

Have PR’s forgotten about teenagers?

I have definitely been thinking about this for a while now with regards to the blogging world.

It almost seems like companies and their PR’s are only interested in children under a certain age. Once they hit major the major teenage years it looks as though there are no need for reviews from any sort of company!

Yet I think this is an important part of the market. People are always talking online about their teens, how to engage them in activities with the family, how to occupy them over the school hols etc.

Gone are the days of walks in the woods, trips to the park and indoor craft days! Teenagers like technology, films, music, apps, online games, games for consoles all of which do not stop being interesting at the age of 12. So how do these products get reviewed, say games or films aimed at a 15 and above age group. Also, do companies then think that all teens do not want a day out with their family? Of course they do but they want a day out that is aimed at their age group, Theme parks, theatre shows, beauty and hair products, clothing, books,  films , tourist attractions or even restaurants such as TGIF’s etc that are aimed at the teenage and above market.

Now I’m not doing this for freebies ( although the teens would certainly like anything for free- they are all leeches LOL) but the blogging world is flooded with reviews of everything and I mean everything to do with babies, toddlers and younger children- but surely the market does not stop there!

So, where are these companies or PR’s who are in charge of marketing these sorts of places? For it seems these are non existent in todays blogging world. Yet for all our complaining about our teenagers attitudes and know it all confidence, would they make the best reviewers? They would certainly be honest ( maybe that is too frightening for most companies)and would definitely tell you in no uncertain terms whether a product or place was worth the money, or even of any interest to that age group. But if a product, item or place was interesting, or worth the money or just simply a great product then they would certainly be telling their mates wouldn’t they?

So, tell me why do PR’s ignore the teen market?