One of my favorite things about CrossFit 330 is our youth programs. Of course, I’m quite a bit biased…being the KIDFIT and BOOM coach. J It has been a while and we’ve added many members since I’ve written anything about our youth programs and my approach to the classes. So, I decided to give an overview in this week’s blog.
KIDFIT is for our youngest athletes. These classes are held on Monday and Wednesday during the 4:30pm and 5:45pm/DieselStrong CrossFit classes. Having lots of space is a wonderful advantage that we have in our gym. This allows for adults and children to safely workout during the same time periods. KIDFIT athletes range in age from 3-9. When deciding if a young child is ready for KIDFIT, I ask the parent (or grandparent) to consider the following:
*Can he/she follow simple directions? Stay off equipment that isn’t being used? Stay in our designated area? Safety is ALWAYS my top priority. Of course, I want the children to have fun, but we must always be safe.
*Can he/she take turns in a group? Sometimes we have big classes and limited equipment; and, children have to wait.
*Can the child pay attention and be ok if you (parent or grandparent) is working out across the room? We often share space in the big gym. And, I want everyone to have a good workout.
During class we work on a variety of skills that model CrossFit and fall into the category of functional fitness. We do lots of jumping, squatting, balancing, cross-body movements (windmills, shoulder-touch planks, and drawing figure 8’s with chalk) and, practice eye-hand coordination. I try to meet the needs of each child by remediating and accelerating where possible. My classes are usually arranged in stations. The children are prompted to complete movements by numbers and pictures. I position myself at the station that requires the most supervision (rope climbing, skin the cats, or wall climbs). I rarely run a clock for workouts. Children are often encouraged to make a goal (number of rounds on an obstacle course, for example) and keep track on a whiteboard. I encourage the children to do their best with good form and measure their progress against past performance. It is one of the best feelings when a child conquers something that had previously proved difficult. Sometimes it just takes a little more practice to learn something, but sometimes it just takes a slightly taller or stronger body to master a new skill. I try to instill the life lesson that not everyone is good at everything…especially on the first try.
At the end of most classes, KIDFIT athletes also build their brains. The children build with blocks, work puzzles, play matching games, or hear stories. After working out is the best time to exercise brains. Exercise positively affects the delivery of neurotransmitters to the brain. Neurotransmitters aid in learning new things and locking in skills or facts that have already been learned. The young athletes just think that they’re playing, but they’re really building their minds along with their bodies.
BOOM is the program that we have for our adolescent athletes (9-14). Classes are held on Monday and Wednesday at 7pm. These young people do workouts that resemble regular CrossFit workouts. By no means, however, are these athletes just small adults. In BOOM I take the skills that have been introduced in KIDFIT and build upon them. We do more organized warm-ups; and, the athletes are introduced to band stretches and foam rolling. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls are used in classes. Quality of movements is still stressed over their speed. These young people often want to use heavier weights to complete their work. I allow them to move up in weight, as long as good form is maintained. And, since they want to use heavier weights, they become more consistent about moving with proper mechanics. I will often run a clock for workouts. AMRAP-style wods work well with this age group. As with the younger athletes, I encourage the children to compare themselves to past personal performance and not each other. My goal for each of them is to be able to confidently move (when deemed appropriate) to CrossFit classes with a solid base of skills.
We also build brains in BOOM. At the end of most classes, we will play word or number games. During the school year I encourage the athletes to go home and review homework or study for upcoming tests…since after a workout is the optimal time for reinforcing learning.
I want all of my athletes to know that exercise is work. It can be fun, but it is work. My goal is to improve their skills across a wide domain of activities. Along with their families, I hope to build a lifestyle of health and fitness for these young people. I want them to have a good perception of themselves..and put more value on what their bodies can do rather than what they look like. I want them to know that it’s ok to fail; and, it’s ok to be disappointed, but it’s not ok to quit trying. I love being the youth coach at CrossFit 330. I take very seriously the role and influence that I have in the lives of these children and greatly appreciate the support that I receive from our owners, other staff members, and our community’s families.
If you ever have any questions about our youth programs, please do not ever hesitate to ask me. Or, if you have a child in your life that you would like to try a class, let’s get something set up.