It has been described by some as the most intense workout around. Think sweat. Think strength and speed and endurance, and faces twisted with the challenge of the WOD (Workout Of the Day). Used to get actors in condition for their roles in 300, a 2007 film about an epic battle in ancient Sparta, CrossFit has been the domain of adults serious about getting into shape. Now the program, which focuses on intense workouts with real-life movements and constant variety, is reaching out to a new generation.
I duck quietly into CrossFit L.A. on Santa Monica Boulevard and find the session already in progress. Nine kids, ages 6-12, are listening to Becca Borawski, head of the CrossFit Kids LA program, and Jeremy “Jonesy” (aka “the Big Bear”) Jones talk about proper form for squats. In case you’re wondering, you stand with your thumbs on your shoulders, line your feet up under your thumbs, and keep your back nice and straight as you bend your knees and squat down. The kids practice a bit and then also work on “jerks” (a weight-lifting technique they practice first without weights, and later with small dumbells). On a whiteboard to my left, the word of the week is “balance.”
Next the kids dive into the WOD. Becca starts the timer and they gleefully set off on five series of jerks, squats, “lateral bridges” and running. Jonesy’s watchful eye keeps everyone in proper form, and the kids write their times on the whiteboard as they finish. They’re smiling, panting audibly, and cheering on anyone still on the course. Becca says even the littlest kids love racing the clock. “If we try to start the workout without turning on the clock, they’ll tell us,” she explains.
After the workout, the kids put the small dumbbells they’ve used away. Then it’s game time, and the vote is for tug-of-war. They go several rounds, pulling a giant rope stretched out across the gym, switching up teams, cheering lots, and not paying much attention to which side wins. Finally, they all sit in a circle on the floor to talk about what they did. Each kid gets a turn to talk about something they learned or their favorite part of the session. Then it’s high-fives for the coaches and the tired, sweaty kids head home with their parents.
They look like they’ve had a great time, and Becca tells me that those who play school sports benefit from the fitness boost they gain through CrossFit. She explains that while adults often see working out as something they “have to” do, the goal of CrossFit Kids is that a new generation can come to view it as something they “get to” do. That’s the kind of sea change we need if we’re going to turn around this trend toward kids being more fat and less fit than ever.
With programs springing up at CrossFit affiliates all over, it’s something your kids can “get to” do, too.
Or ask a CrossFit location near you about their programs for kids.