So we know that CrossFit is growing and continues to benefit adults worldwide (did you see that the first affiliated box in China – Iron Dragon CrossFit — is open?) But did you also know that CrossFit Kids is continuing to grow in popularity as well? So much so that boxes everywhere are adding CrossFit Kids programming into their schedule with certified instructors, high schools are converting PE classes into CrossFit classes, and more. In the U.S. in particular, there is no time like the present to start raising a healthy generation of kids.
Admit it — once you started CrossFit and saw a toddler do a perfect squat, you lamented the fact that you didn’t find this stuff decades ago.
Fitness is FUN!
Your average CrossFit Kids class is a little different than an adult class, obviously, as the primary goal is to pair fitness with fun. Sure, the kids do challenging WODs, but they also get to play games and act like, well, kids.
Thousands of children around the globe are now part of the CrossFit Kids program, which was established in 2004, almost by accident. “I couldn’t find any adults to do it,” says Jeff Martin. So he and his wife, Mikki, began teaching children in Ramona, Calif., and soon CrossFit founder Greg Glassman asked them to formally create CrossFit Kids.
The couple’s martial arts background shaped how they approached bringing these exercises to a kid level. “You want to do something well before you do it fast. You break things down and then link them together,” Martin explains. It helps that children don’t have the bad habits adults can build up, so they’re often faster learners.
A recent session for ages 5 to 8 at CrossFit Old Town in Alexandria started with a quick warm-up that involved drawing a stick figure. To earn a new body part, the kids had to do a couple of reps of an exercise: squats for the head, high knees for the body, sprints for the legs, etc.
Want to see what happens in the next part of class? Check out the full Washington Post article here.
Reinvigorating Physical Education
If you have been in schools lately, physical education certain looks different than the days of rope climbs and static pull-up holds (remember the Presidential Physical Fitness testing back in the day?). Enter CrossFit Kids, with its renewed focus on helping kids understand functional fitness movements that will serve them throughout life. Check out what one high school is up to these days.
About 35 kids file into the CrossFit room — a former weight room that has kettlebells, weights, PVC pipe for stretching, foam rollers and a rack that looks like a jungle gym for adults.
Van Buren tells them their workout. Stretching and a 200-meter run to warm up. Then they’ll use a 15-, 30- or 45-pound bar to do 10 shoulder presses, followed by one “burpee,” which is when you start in a standing position, drop to the ground, allowing your chest to touch the floor, then jumping back up, even leaping into the air, with hands held high. Then they’ll do nine shoulder presses and two burpees, then eight shoulder presses and three burpees, continuing in that pattern until they do one shoulder press and 10 burpees. This early in the school year, Van Buren wants them to hone their technique.
“Encourage one another,” Van Buren [P.E. teacher & coach] says just before they begin. This is another part of CrossFit — athletes think of themselves as teammates.
Omar Garcia is 16 and a junior who doesn’t play high school sports. But he is a star pupil in this class. He was in the class last year, and he says it was transformative. “Waking up sore after the first hard day of class, I decided I love this class,” he said. He believes he lost 20 pounds of fat and replaced it with nearly that in muscle.
Read more about how this elective is improving students’ lives here.
Is CrossFit Safe for Kids?
An important question for any parent to ask. Over time, doctor’s opinions on kids and weightlifting has evolved, and as with any athletic endeavor, good coaching and focus on technique is essential — is that not true for people of all ages?
Owen Belamaric, 8, is not so sure about CrossFit. When I ask him what it is he doesn’t like, he says, “the workout — it’s always really hard!” Which raises the question, is it good to make the workout “hard” for kids?
That depends on your definition of “hard.” In terms of weightlifting, the scientific opinion has changed in the past few years.
Jordon Metzl is a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and author of The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies: 1,001 Doctor-Approved Health Fixes and Injury-Prevention Secrets for a Leaner, Fitter, More Athletic Body! Metzl says when people think about strength training for kids, the initial thought is, “Are you crazy? Kids should not be lifting weights.” But he and many other sports medicine specialists are convinced that strength training can be great for kids.
That idea gained momentum in 2008, when the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its policy statement on weight training for children and adolescents. The AAP used to recommend against weightlifting, but after considering new research it determined it’s safe for kids to start a light weightlifting routine after age 8. Metzl explains that kids who strength-train won’t look like mini Schwarzeneggers — that type of bulking up doesn’t happen until after puberty.
We thought so! Find out what else NPR had to say here.