As a parent it can be daunting to select activities in which to enroll your child. Sports, dance, or martial arts? What about school? Kids have a lot going on these days and they also have their own opinions about things.
As the founder of CrossFit LA Kids, and therefore having coached kids of all ages in CrossFit on a daily basis, I can tell you there are many reasons it is a great discipline for your children. CrossFit can be a great base for kids to carry them into other sports and also develop them as healthy fit human beings.
There are three main areas kids gain from CrossFit:
CrossFit is great for kids because of the wide variety of disciplines it involves, from weightlifting to calisthenics to gymnastics. Kids brains are like little sponges, itching to make neurological connections and adaptations. These connections in the brain are made in response to stimuli. The more kids can be exposed to when they are young, the more connections and capacities they develop and retain for the rest of their lives. Think of friends you have who did not play sports growing up, unless they have consciously worked at it as an adult, they are probably still somewhat uncoordinated. On the other hand, people you know who trained regularly in athletics growing up have a capacity to take on new things still as adults and display efficient and effective movement with their bodies.
CrossFit is similar to sports and martial arts in how it can develop children on an emotional level. In my program we work with kids on sportsmanship, leadership, teamwork, listening skills, self-discipline and manners. These are all skills, though not physical, that will help kids become successful later in life. In addition, I see a noticeable difference in the confidence level of children who have been doing CrossFit. As their bodies get fitter and their abilities expand, children generally become more physically active and less self-conscious in other athletic situations. I have also seen children lose considerable amounts of weight, resulting in a major change in body image and a big boost in self-esteem. This is especially important and beneficial in the pre-teen years.
Fitness as a Lifestyle
One of the main reasons I started working with children is because it was important to me to instill the value of fitness at an early age. It is also important to make sure kids find fitness fun – if children grow up associating working out with being something enjoyable and clearly seeing the benefits to their bodies and health, then they are more likely to keep fitness as a priority throughout their lives. Eating healthy becomes a natural and normal choice and being active becomes something they just do. Enrolling kids in an all-encompassing program like CrossFit also shows children health and fitness is something their parents prioritize and want to educate them about.
The benefits of a program like CrossFit Kids can be long lasting for children, both physically and mentally, and it is a great activity for children to get into at any age. At my school, CrossFit Los Angeles, we coach kids from ages 5 to 17. At the younger ages, CrossFit develops their bodies across a broad range of skills. By exposing them to a variety of stimuli therefore their bodies adapt and grow both physically and neurologically. As teenagers, CrossFit is a fun and efficient way for young athletes to develop the strength and conditioning base they need to excel in their sport of choice. CrossFit Kids is not available in all cities, but it is opening up at more and more CrossFit affiliates across the country.
My favorite thing as a CrossFit coach is when a whole family ends up working out together. We have numerous families who are all members of my gym. So maybe when you bring your children to check out a CrossFit class, you might check one out yourself, too. Sharing a love for fitness can be not only a time for your family to bond, but also ensures you more happy healthy years together.