THE CUES ARE DIFFERENT.
How many times has your coach told you to stay on your heels during a movement? It’s a short and easy cue that usually gets you into the correct position, right? Now imagine you’re 5-years-old and you don’t know what your heels are or what it means to get back on them.
Consider these cues taken from the CrossFit Kids Trainer Manual:
Air Squat for Adults:
feet shoulder width apart, toes slightly turned out, weight in the heels
butt back and down
crease of the hip below parallel
stand all the way up with hips open
Air Squat for Kids:
thumbs on outside of shoulders, match heels to thumbs
hips back ~ you first have to make sure they know where their hips are and then you have to show them to how push their hips (and just their hips) back. And you can’t say butt.
pockets below the knees
stand up like a superhero (chest out like a superhero and hands on hips)
CLASSES ARE STRUCTURED DIFFERENTLY
Classes are shorter because…well, kids’ attention spans. You don’t have 15 minutes to spend explaining one movement. With kids, you have to make your instruction quick and clear and move on to the next activity before they lose interest.
The WOD is almost always an AMRAP because it allows you to keep all of the kids ~ who can have wildly varying abilities ~ to start and finish together. Kids don’t like being left out and while the ‘winner’ of the WOD feels great, no kid wants to end up as the ‘loser’.
In some programs, the teens are required to bring homework with them to the gym to work on after their WOD. There is a growing body of research to suggest that there is a 30-60 minute window after exercising in which brain function is at its peak. CrossFit Kids is about making the entire child better, including their brain.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DISGUISE THE WORK WITH A GAME
Can you imagine what you’d do if you walked into the gym and the WOD was 15 minutes of Crab Soccer followed by 3 rounds of Medicine Ball Bowling? Adults want to know what the work is and they want it straight up, especially in CrossFit.
With kids, sometimes you have to get creative and make the work a game. They are working the same muscles as if they were standing in neat lines with a coach at the front of the class but they are having FUN doing it and fun is what keeps them coming back and coming back is what makes them stronger.
YOU CAN’T CUSS IN FRONT OF THE KIDS
LOWER WEIGHT, HIGHER REPS
Kids who demonstrate the ability can absolutely lift weights but they will always lift lighter weights and do more reps. The CrossFit Kids Trainer Manual explains it this way:
“…Strength gains at this age are neurological rather than a result of hypertrophy [an increase in skeletal muscle]. Training with multiple reps at low weights allows children to build a physiological pathway for their technique.”
In other words, at this age the goal is not to become muscular but to imprint the technique in their still developing brains so when they are able to lift more weight as they get older, they have their technique perfected.
KIDS ARE A LOT MORE FUN TO COACH!
Yes, you have to deal with short attention spans and constant interruptions and unexpected meltdowns but the reward is seeing an athlete who was afraid to even jump up onto the bar come to class 2 weeks later to show you their pull up which they’ve been working on at home. It is endlessly satisfying to see kids learn do things they didn’t believe they could do.
CrossFit Kids, for ages 5-12
Every Wednesday from 6-6:45pm
CrossFit Teens, for ages 12-18
Every Saturday from 9-9:45am
(Ages for the classes are guidelines; we evaluate each child individually
to determine the best fit for them)