In the spring of 2015 as we began our fourth year in business, we celebrated our two sons’ 4th and 6th birthdays. Now they have just turned 10 and 12, and it’s crazy to look back at pictures and see where they have come from as young men, and indeed as athletes!
It was around this time that we looked around the gym full of young parents and kids that wanted to join in on the workouts that we decided it was time to put together a Kids program! Denee and Dana were tapped as our CrossFit Kids coaches for their bubbly personalities and Dana’s teaching experience, and off they went to a CrossFit Kids training seminar. They came back bursting with energy, as often happens at any CrossFit seminar, and also some great strategies and tactics for coaching different ages of kids. The seminar is as much about how child psychology changes through developmental stages as it is about teaching movement, but there is plenty of that as well. You also learn to bring your own energy level up a notch or three when teaching little kids – fast forward a couple years to my own CrossFit Kids seminar when the instructor bluntly told me, “You have to completely change your personality if you’re going to coach kids.” At the time I think I growled back at him, and I have definitely received feedback from other CFKI coaches to not treat the Kids class as if it’s a Marine bootcamp, but since then I’m happy to say I really enjoy coaching the little guys and girls and have genuinely changed my demeanor when leading those groups because of it. It’s a blast!
We had always had a few older kids that would join their parents for class — including Ashton who that year did Murph with us at 10 years old – but it was apparent that they also needed a different environment for training with their peers. Many of them were very proud to be able to train with the big dogs, but coaching an adult class with a teenager present always became more about watching them to make sure they wouldn’t do anything reckless and get themselves hurt, which took attention away from everyone else. Coincidentally, this is also why we insist on an On-Ramp program for new adult athletes!
And so we began a CrossFit Teens class a couple times per week, focused on teaching a single gymnastics or weightlifting movement each time, then featuring it in a CrossFit-style workout. The workouts were no joke, and many times were modeled after a similar workout we had just done with our adult athletes, just scaled down to the ability levels of our teens. It’s maybe not surprising that our Teens class also used some of the more “fun” equipment a bit more often, like our tires, sleds, sandbags, and that nice new mulch hill leading down to Matapeake Beach only a quarter mile away. The CrossFit Teens class became a mix of quick-hitter CrossFit workouts and long SEALFIT-style stamina workouts that would prepare these young men and women for sports or for life, whatever it threw at them.
We had – and still are helping to create – many awesome stories of athletes beginning to really excel in their sports after attending CrossFit Teens classes for a year, or in some cases all four years of high school leading to the ability to compete at the college level.
Our own kids, Everett and Oliver, having literally grown up in a CrossFit gym and watched all of us train, experiencing all the highs and lows, PRs and failed lifts, finally got a chance to start training themselves. And they have never looked back! Fast forwarding back to the future, these kids are now young athletes. Even at 10 and 12 years old, while they like to have fun in the gym as we all do, they are also serious about their training, and provide a good model of determination on tough workouts to some of the older kids at times! I know I’m biased, but we are raising some pretty awesome CrossFit Kids.
As we started posting on this new-fangled contraption called Instagram back in 2014-5, our most used hashtag became #getawesome, which started as an inside joke (ask me and I’ll tell you, maybe) and became our company mantra. When posting about our CrossFit Kids classes though, I would always change it to #thefutureisawesome. I believe the future WILL be awesome when I’m in the gym with our CrossFit Kids and Teens classes. These kids love being active, support each other and work as a team, and work hard for what they want to achieve. They will be leaders one day in a world that desperately needs them to step up. Let’s keep training our future!