CrossFit is for all ages and abilities.
Whether 2 or 72, one of the great claims of CrossFit is that it’s functional fitness that is scalable across the life span.
With the rise in popularity and familiarity of the sport over the years, one age group in particular is booming on the CrossFit scene—CrossFit kids.
“I get about 300 e-mails each week from people asking about CrossFit kids,” says Jeff Martin, the co-founder of CrossFit Kids out of CrossFit Brand-X in Ramona, California. “Coaches wanting to implement it at their boxes, questions about programming or other CrossFit kids’ related things, and interest from teachers, wanting to find out more about integrating CrossFit into their schools.”
In fact, it’s the latter group-children and their teachers -that is rapidly growing in interest. Martin and his wife, Mikki, consult with at least 1,500 teachers who are bringing CrossFit to the classroom—many of whom aren’t necessarily CrossFit Level I certified coaches.
“Many teachers seek out guidance and wisdom from me and Mikki, and I genuinely want to do whatever I can to help them out,” says Martin. “CrossFit is really simple to integrate in the classroom. I’ve had teachers who do tabata squats before their kids take a math test, make an effort to give their kids rest breaks, or during recess facilitate a pull-up contest on the playground.”
Martin says CrossFit Kids methodologies coincide with the values that many teachers and parents promote for their kids.
“A big part of the CrossFit Kids program is developing character, confidence and self-esteem in kids and teens. A kid may be 50 pounds overweight, not athletic, but can find success at something, such as lifting more than a gangly kid,” Martin says. “But then the gangly kid finds he can do pullups, and it becomes a personal success. I also think CrossFit Kids makes better people, in general, over the course of time. I’ve had three kids go off to the Air Force, six others became valedictorians; we are raising up kids to change the world.”
BoxLife spoke with four teachers that are CrossFit Level I Certified, and who are doing just that—changing young lives through fitness and health, and in turn, raising kids to change the world.
“I would love to help other schools get CrossFit in their Physical Education programs!” says Michelle Van Buren, a PE teacher and an avid CrossFitter. “I am going to just keep doing what I am doing, try to make as many connections in the education setting as possible and really promote the positive effects it has had on my students.”
Van Buren works at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, an inner-city Title I school with the highest homeless rate of students in the metro area. Since finding CrossFit five years ago, Van Buren says her own well-being changed tremendously, and it didn’t take her long to pay the CrossFit lifestyle forward to her students.
She introduced the first CrossFit program at the school in the fall of 2011, with one class of 35 students. The class has since grown to 7 class periods with over 200 students and encompasses other schools in the community.
“After a few months into my first year of coaching CrossFit, I invited the head director of Physical Education of my school district to come and check out my class. I wanted to introduce her to the program,” says Van Buren. “After watching just one class she was blown away by the activity and work ethic my class showed. It was unlike any PE class she had seen before. She applied for a grant to implement CrossFit into ten other high schools in our district. We received the grant in the fall of last year, so now, in the fall of 2013, ten other high schools in our district are starting CrossFit!”
This past summer, Van Buren also ran a CrossFit/SAT Prep program at her local box, CrossFit 702, and says there was a positive correlation between students’ academic and physical results.
“Another one of my students admitted to me that when he took regular Physical Education class the year before he would skip that class and others because school was boring,” Van Buren remarks. “Once he started CrossFit, he was hooked and wanted more. He never missed my class and started to attend his other classes.”
One need not only go to the inner-city to see the lives of kids changed through CrossFit. Bonnie Smith is a PE and Health teacher at Palm Valley School, a private school in Rancho Mirage, California. Smith began incorporating CrossFit programming as part of her PE programming eighteen months ago. Students participate in CrossFit during class time every Monday and Wednesday, and more advanced and experienced students have the option to choose CrossFit as an elective when they progress to high-school. Smith says students have experienced positive effects across the board.
“I can’t even begin to describe the difference in the movement and mobility of our kids. Kids who normally shy away from PE activities all can find a level of success in our CrossFit programming,” says Smith. “When we retested on our physical skills in the spring, we saw almost a 100 percent improvement in each of the skills tested on. We even had 4 fifth graders run a sub seven minute mile!”
Smith continues to aim to grow and expand the impact of CrossFit at her school. Her current goals include, offering after-school CrossFit classes for teachers as well as physical testing for parents within the school community, hoping to encourage them to incorporate fitness and sound nutrition in their lives as well.
Interested in incorporating CrossFit into the classroom, the gym or your child’s school?Contact Jeff Martin at email@example.com, attend a CrossFit Kids cert or visit www.CrossFitKids.com to learn more about CrossFit Kids.