Why would you want to involve your children in something like CrossFit?

Do you even know what CrossFit is? That’s way too hard for even me.

I tried a CrossFit class once and almost died - Intensity doesn’t belong in a kid’s workout routine. I don’t want my kids lifting weights and being over competitive.

It will stunt their growth.

Why would I want to put my kids into something like that?

If you’ll allow, I’d love to address some of those real-life questions and let you in on the secrets of what CrossFit Kids is really about. You’re a parent, I get it. You want the absolute best for your children, no doubt. You want your kids to be active while remaining safe, I completely understand. Trust me, CrossFit Kids is the way to go.  

In CrossFit Kids, our athletes learn to move well and work hard. The youngest learn to take turns and the oldest learn to work with others they don’t necessary agree with. They learn to work together to achieve a common goal and they learn to cheer on the one who is coming in last. Most of all, they have FUN. Yes, they learn to squat, do pull-ups, burpees, broad jumps, handstands, deadlifts, and overhead squats...but in CrossFit Kids, I genuinely believe those skills are somewhat secondary.  

The overall goal is CrossFit Kids is to train up life-long athletes, not hyper competitive over-trained children - the differences in those two are vast. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for team sports for kids, however, in many situations, we see kids who burn out and become frustrated with training or learn to hate competition. Often, because of long frequent practices and too much pressure to only worry about the scoreboard, children grow to hate team sports or learn that the score at the end of the game is the only thing that matters. We are not about that in CrossFit Kids. We teach them to move well first and foremost - we don’t want to impose injury and thus impede any sport competition or training they may do down the road. One of our primary focuses is good, quality, safe movement. Another prime focus is keeping the child interested. Yes, this means I want them to have fun. At the end of the day, if a child doesn’t enjoy class, they’re aren’t going to want to come back. I can’t convince every child that every activity we do is fun, and (truthfully) not every activity we do is “fun,” but I absolutely want them to want to come back. A healthy and active lifestyle is, without question, fun!

A typical CrossFit Kids class might look like this:

WARM-UP: this generally includes a GAME. For example, we might play tic-tac-toe: class is split into two teams - large game board is across the gym. Kids will sprint one at a time to the game board and place their game piece for the team. Three in a row wins! There’s a huge chance the kids are already warmed up before class simply due to the fact that they’ve probably been running around in the gym 10 minutes prior to class. The warm-up time warms up their bodies, yes, but primarily serves the purpose of getting them all on the same page and preparing them to focus on class for a few minutes.

SKILL: this will be the most “focused” work time of the day. This might include a gymnastic skill or weightlifting skill. We might even work on two skills within a given class. For example, half of the class might work on their gymnastic kip and pull-ups and the other half will work on the Push Press with PVC pipes. During this time we focus on quality movement - as a coach, I strive to address each child and, not only critique what they need to fix, but complement what they are doing well.

WOD/METCON: This will be in the format of any “typical” CrossFit workout. We use AMRAPs, EMOMs, Chippers, as well as other formats - movements include a wide variety of typical CF movements. However, unlike adult CrossFit workouts, our workouts sometimes change during the middle of the workout. This is where, as a coach, I push for intensity but am very aware of the kids and their needs. For example, we might have a short AMRAP for the day consisting of a few different movements. If, at minute 5 of a 7 minute workout I realize the kids are completely spent and don’t need to push any further, I will secretly turn off the clock and then do a countdown to finish the workout sooner than planned. (Don’t tell them, they don’t know that!) While it is necessary for a CrossFit athlete to learn to push as well as pace, we are very careful with this piece of the CrossFit prescription in CrossFit Kids.

GAME: Class ALWAYS ends with a game. If I don’t end with a game, I’m in trouble. Dodgeball, Spud, Tic-tac-toe, Volcano Monster, Hide the Treasure, Guard the Treasure, Capture the Flag...and the list could go on and on.

We pack as much skill, knowledge, and fun as possible into an hour’s worth of class time.

Still not convinced?

CrossFit Kids aids in a child’s overall physical development. According to recent studies by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, high impact physical activities at a young age can provide a benefit, even if that child is genetically predispositioned to have lower bone mass as an adult. The time of maximal bone mineral accretion actually occurs in a children right around the time of puberty. Therefore, it is certainly important to consider the physical activity of a child during this time frame! Increasing time doing high impact physical activity as a youth is a simple and direct way to improve skeletal health. Just a few examples of high impact physical activities are aerobics, dancing, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, running, jumping rope, and weightlifting. A typical CrossFit Kids class will absolutely include one, two, or even three of those activities!

CrossFit Kids also aids in a child’s brain development. Not only do the activities in CrossFit impact the movement areas of the brain, they impact the non-movement areas of the brain as well. CrossFit is about solving problems, learning new things, and completing difficult tasks, not just learning to move. CrossFit Kids can also play a large role in developing a child’s vestibular system. Our vestibular system basically connects movements to the brain and also informs us of where we are in space. Our kids will be upside down, they will spin, and they will turn flips. The cognitive benefits are vast. Active students grow to have longer attention spans and even better test scores. The benefits are numerous.

While I could write for days about why your child should be in CrossFit Kids, I’ll try and curb my excitement and bring it down to a conclusion. The studies of benefits speak for themselves. Ultimately, if you’re reading this article, there’s a large chance you’re a CrossFitter. It would only make sense to allow your children to experience CrossFit so they can continue in your footsteps.

So. Why would you want your kids to be in CrossFit Kids?

Why would you NOT want your kids in CF Kids??

~Coach Emily

Sources used AND some great reading/watching sources:

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/07_2013_Growing_Cooper_FINAL4.pdf

http://journal.crossfit.com/2015/11/childs-play.tpl#featureArticleTitle

http://journal.crossfit.com/2016/11/crossfit-kids-research-brief-bone-density.tpl#featureArticleTitle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAYM0CV8qM4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNkLKu3v1VU