By: Daniel Billinkoff
Our kids classes are loud and raucous. The kids get to blow off steam, run, jump, lift, throw, climb and tumble. They get sweaty, red faced and they don’t want to leave. They love it and that’s awesome. They’re kids! It’s CrossFit!
Within that crazy hour at the gym, the kids are also getting much more than their daily dose of activity. From skills and metcons to vestibular development, there’s more going on than meets the eye. Here are some of the deeper, longer-lasting benefits of our Kids program:
1) Greater Body Awareness and Control: Perfect barrel rolls, hollow/superman holds and patterns on the agility ladder take immense body control to learn and master. We call those types of movements brain food, and who needs that more than kids? One of our big standouts from the kids program has been incredible gains in both coordination and body awareness. And it happens quickly!
2) Bravery and Confidence: Ever maxed out your box jump? Or tried a skin the cat? It’s scary! The more you do it, though, the less scary it gets. The more experience the kids gain, the braver they get and the more the world opens up. Just this week we had a grandparent mention that one of our Minis is now climbing to the top of the play structure – something he NEVER did before starting CFW Kids.
3) Positive Behavioural Skills: CrossFit is challenging both mentally and physically. At its core, it’s about personal and physical growth. We want to help kids develop traits like perseverance, personal responsibility, accepting feedback, public speaking, being part of a team and following rules. (1)
4) Safe and Efficient Movement Patterns: Our programming focuses on functional movements like running, jumping, lifting, throwing and rowing which carry over to both life and sport. By teaching safe and efficient movement patterns at a young age, we are preparing them for greater success in future physical endeavours.
5) A Broad Fitness Base: Why is general physical preparedness (GPP) so important? More and more studies have shown that, “regular participation in organized sports activities does not ensure that youth are adequately exposed to fitness components that can improve their health and reduce risk of injury” (2). Plus, many kids experience unnecessary injuries or burnout from too much time playing a specific sport. That’s why we’re focused on variance and building a broad fitness base including Cardiovascular endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy.
6) A Sense of Pride and Accomplishment: Whether it’s climbing to the top of the ladder, a new PR or a perfect wall walk, achievements in CrossFit are difficult and hard-earned. Our CFW Kids program challenges them to be brave and determined. The end result is lots of high fives and some very proud kiddos.
7) Building Bone Density: Loading kids’ movements through jumping and tumbling is a great way to build bone density in their formative years. One recent study “noted sex-specific improvements in bone density after an eight-month intervention of adding ten minutes of jumping twice a week to an adolescent physical education class.” (3,4). Jumping and tumbling are staples in our workouts and warm-ups, partly for this reason, and also because the kids love it!
8) Vestibular Development: The vestibular system is made up of the semicircular canal system of the inner ear with nerves extending to various parts of the brain, including the limbic system, the hippocampus, and the neocortex (5). Regularly training the vestibular system has been shown to improve coordination, balance, agility and even school performance. These potential benefits are one of the many reasons we integrate movements like log rolls, forward rolls, handstands and skin the cats into our classes. (1)
These are just a few of the things we think about when planning our CFW Kids classes. Fun is at the forefront of everything we do, but the programming is about much more than awesome games. We want our kids to move well, move fast, move with power and grace, and enjoy every second of it.
Our goal is to develop a lifelong love of fitness.
- “CrossFit Specialty Course: Kids Training Guide”
- Myer, G. D. et al. Integrative training for children and adolescents: techniques and practices for reducing sports-related injuries and enhancing athletic performance. Phys Sportsmed 39, 74–84 (2011b).
- Weeks B. K., Beck B. R. Eight months of regular in-school jumping improves indices of bone strength in adolescent boys and girls: Results of the POWER PE study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 23: 1002–1011 (2008).
- Weeks, B. K. & Beck, B. R. Are bone and muscle changes from POWER PE, an 8-month in-school jumping intervention, maintained at three years? PLoS ONE 7, e39133 (2012).
- Smith, P. F., Darlington, C. L. & Zheng, Y. Move it or lose it–is stimulation of the vestibular system necessary for normal spatial memory? Hippocampus 20, 36–43 (2010).