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Fitness = Fun: Gear for tots

Mar. 29, 2012 - 03:28PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 29, 2012 - 03:28PM  |  
The Strider No-Pedal Balance Bike retails for $99.
The Strider No-Pedal Balance Bike retails for $99. (James J. Lee / Staff)
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Eat your hearts out, all you Arc'teryx-hoodie-wearing, toe-shoeing gear geeks. Today's toddlers don't need training wheels. They don't sit idly in big baby backpacks while moms and dads do all the work. Some of our favorite finds to get you and your little guy (oh sorry, "big boy") on the move:

Strider No-Pedal Balance Bike

No pedals to push while you learn to ride, no big clunky training wheels dragging you down. A toddler will start walking his Strider by age 2, tentatively test out the low seat — then be riding on BMX tracks at age 3 (check out the videos on YouTube and the Strider website).

Use: Hard plastic wheels make it maintenance-free and still seem to give a decent ride.

Best thing: As your child grows, just raise the seat.

• Ages: 1-5.

• Price: $99.

• Website: http://www.stridersports.com">Click here.

iBert safe-T-seat

Be the envy of all the parents on the trail just by buying this bike seat. People will point and loudly exclaim, "Check out that kid." Need motivation to get yourself moving? Try to resist when your baby asks for a bike ride.

Use: Easy for one person to install with no particular skills. Tried on two Giant mountain bikes: First fit with no trouble; second required the brakes and shifters to be moved, and then the seat just barely fit (shown). Not the same as riding unencumbered, but still easy to control, even on a steep downhill with a turn at the bottom — just take it slow. If you feel unsteady, try lowering your seat so you can plant your feet solidly. For kids ages 1-4, up to 38 pounds. Even if your child can hold his head up at a younger age, remember he may still fall asleep, and then your zonked infant's head is lolling around wearing a big, oversized helmet.

• Best thing: Your child gets a front-seat view.

• Price: $90-$110.

• Website: http://www.ibertinc.com">Click here.

Gold's Gym Circuit Trainer 36-inch Mini Trampoline

Jumping's suddenly this big deal. First it's just clearing the floor, then it's the gap from the coffee table to the couch. Back the other way, and it's time to intervene. We heard about people — largely grandparents — keeping these mini trampolines in the house, and after reading all the reviews, we picked this solid, safe and well-bounced-on model from Walmart.

Use: Two people each grab a side, and it almost sets up itself. We never tried the attachable resistance bands or workout monitor, or jumped on it seriously as grownups.

• Best thing: No springs. Wide pieces of elastic provide the bounce.

• Price: $37.

• Website: http://www.walmart.com">Click here.

Piggyback Rider

You're no longer pushing a stroller, but little legs can only trek so far. Makers of the Piggyback Rider harness-and-trapeze rig mean to keep the rider upright and engaged. Even at the youngest recommended age, the riding position was natural with minimal slipping on a short ride.

Use: Weight is distributed evenly for a natural, upright walking position. With a young child, you will probably need someone to help latch the two harnesses together. You feel the metal bar against your lower back after a while. For kids ages 2˝ up to 60 pounds.

• Best thing: Is it fun? "Real fun."

• Price: $75.

• Website: http://www.piggybackrider.com">Click here.

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