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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this kid-targeted version of American Gladiators -- which originally aired in the mid-'90s and is now getting a second life -- is well suited for families. The young competitors must use physical fitness and teamwork to succeed in events like rock climbing, and their comprehension skills are put to the test during instructional sessions and quizzes. Gladiator coaches often remind the kids that good health is attainable at any age and for any body type, but viewers -- especially parents -- may find these messages a sharp contrast to the sight of the gladiators' chiseled bodies in their skimpy unitards. If you can see past that (as well as the show's unmistakable '90s feel), this series offers families the chance to cheer on some healthy competition while they pick up useful information about nutrition and fitness.
What's the story?
GLADIATORS 2000 is a game show that originally aired in the mid-'90s in which tweens ages 10-13 compete in a series of events inspired by the challenges on the adult-sized American Gladiators. Hosted by a youthful Ryan Seacrest (he was 19 when the show started in 1994), this kid-focused version features two contestant pairs who race against the clock -- and their opponents -- in physical challenges like the Wall, the Assault, and the Eliminator. The participants also learn about healthy lifestyles, exercise, and the human body in classroom sessions taught by their American Gladiator coaches, and their comprehension skills are tested by challenge questions that also earn them points. The team with the most points at the end of three events wins an assortment of prizes including bikes and computer programs -- as well as '90s treasures like a walkman and a 35mm camera.
Is it any good?
Gladiators 2000 manages to pack each 30-minute episode with a lot of great content that families can use to encourage healthy lifestyles. Each episode includes two instructional sessions focusing on health and the human body; even adults can pick up some tips on topics like reading food labels, maintaining a balanced diet, and selecting physical activities that complement your body type. Although the series is rooted in competition, the participants exhibit good sportsmanship and celebrate one another's victories as well as their own, and the focus consistently remains on having fun while staying fit.
Modern tweens may be turned off by the show's look and feel -- which, by today's standards, is sorely lacking in CGI flash -- but this is a series the whole family can get into. Its only real hurdle is that it touts warm-fuzzy messages about appreciating your body and respecting what makes you different from others at the same time that it promotes images of adult Gladiators dressed in skin-tight body suits and leotards that show off muscles, cleavage, and more. You may want to follow up with your tweens with a discussion about body image and how it relates to physical fitness and health.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the media's messages about health and body image. Are you affected by images of super-thin celebrities or ads for weight-loss plans? Do you question whether or not they're healthy? Do you ever feel pressure to look a certain way? How much thought do you give to your overall health? What activities do you enjoy that help keep you physically fit? Are there any small changes you could make in your diet or daily routine that could help improve your health? How might better health change other things in your life as well?
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