Since its beginning in 1996 in Santa Cruz, California, millions of people have been drawn to the WOD at CrossFit gyms. According to Jon Friedman’s article “Success in the Bull’s Eye,” there are more than 10,000 of these gyms and they are packed every day with both men, women and now kids.
One of the fastest growing demographics of CrossFit Training is children as young as 4. Needless to say, developing a CrossFit training regimen for a 5 or 6 year old is much different than one for a 25-year old. However, like adults, kids love the energy and fast-paced activities.
CrossFit for Kids
This popularity of CrossFit among youngsters has led to the establishment of CrossFit Kids. According to a National Public Radio report, “The idea behind CrossFit Kids, says co-founder Jeff Martin, is to pair fitness and fun. Since he started the program with his wife Mikki in 2004, it has taken off. There are hundreds of CrossFit Kids classes across the U.S., and more in cities across the world.”
“Fun” is the operative word here. Because of the neurological development, or lack thereof, in children, it is important to incorporate CrossFit training in a “game” environment. The synapses in these young brains are connecting like crazy and keeping them engaged and focused is critical to realizing strength building of CrossFit training.
Typically, the CrossFit training for kids is broken down into three groups. There is a 4-6 year old group, a 7-12 year old group and a teenage group. The trainers of each of these groups focus on exercises and activities that are developmentally and physiologically appropriate for each age group.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best way to train kids is with high repetition, lightweight training. Kids should be able to do eight to 15 reps of whatever weight with no problem. In order for kids to reap the benefit of strength training, they don’t need to push too hard.
The Non-Physical Benefit: Confidence
While the little guys and girls can certainly increase their strength with this type of training, the physical changes are more visible in post-puberty teenagers. The much discussed childhood obesity epidemic starts at an early age, but teenagers who are overweight are more likely to be unpopular and made fun of. CrossFit training has been credited with changing the physique and confidence of many teenagers.
Kyle McDonald of Kansas City is a poster child for the benefits of CrossFit training for teenagers.
According to a news report on Fox 4 in KC, Kyle’s entire life changed after beginning his CrossFit training.
“In middle school when I started doing it I came in and I could do nothing. I couldn't do a single sit up, I couldn't do a push up. I couldn't do anything,” said the recent high school graduate.
At 16 Kyle got serious about CrossFit with his school PE teacher Dana Davenport. In the past year and a half Kyle's managed to lose more than 85 pounds, but said he's gained a lot more.
"Along with losing weight it helped me have confidence. It helped me. I learned how to talk to people better, I learned how to listen and focus better,” he said.
Kyle’s trainer noted that CrossFit for kids is just like CrossFit for adults but with different functional moves.
Tell Us about Your CrossFit Experience
Are you or your kids involved with CrossFit training? Have you found exercises and activities that are particularly effective for younger children? Let us know. Contact us and we’ll share these with others.