By Malia Warren
Is Kids’ CrossFit Safe?
You’ve probably seen a lot of photos of new moms with their babies in strollers or car seats next to their workout space in the gym.
But then those same babies become toddlers. Toddlers move around and are probably safer in a kids area of the gym - preferably with a “gate” of some sort around them. Because toddlers + barbells flying everywhere isn’t a pretty picture.
Then when said toddler gets a little older, they want to mimic everything mom and dad do, right? This same trend carries on throughout childhood - our children LEARN from US.
Not only is bringing your child to the gym with you a great learning experience, but it also models for them what it’s like to workout and have fun. This shows our kids that we workout for our own enjoyment and the feeling of strength, rather than to lose weight or because society thinks they should.
Research shows that kids should be active for 60 minutes a day - and what better way to do it than to have them join you in a CrossFit workout?
Enter: Kids’ CrossFit
You’ve seen the CrossFit Games every year add more and more young athletes to the field of competition. But as a parent, have you ever wondered if CrossFit is actually safe for kids?
I asked Dr. Chris Robl at Physio Room of Littleton, CO what he believes is the right time for a kid to try out CrossFit. He said that much like a kids’ interest in playing sports, usually around 6 to 8 years old, their interest in CrossFit may come alive. If they can safely do a sport, then under proper kid-focused coaching, they can safely do CrossFit.
“We all know the fittest athletes on the planet are CrossFit athletes so therefore, if a child as young as six has the interest, he can safely begin learning the skills and coordination it takes to perform the sport," Dr. Chris says.
Similarly, CrossFit Level 2 Coach, Josh Bednorz, believes that maturity, rather than age, plays a huge factor in a kids’ ability to follow and understand directions.
Ok, so when can they begin strength training?
“This is very consistent with the ability for the child to focus and implement proper technique. It takes certain coordination and skill and when the child is ready they listen to a coach then they can begin strength training. Typically, this could be as young as 7 to 8 years old.”
Gah! Kids with barbells and learning to be strong?
Believe it, my friend.
Of course, we won’t see 8 year olds lift the same weight as a 30 year old, unless you’re in Russia, but it doesn’t mean they can’t start learning the movements. Think about it, no kid just walks into soccer knowing how to properly pass the ball with their feet. By learning CrossFit style movements they can learn body awareness.
“Some benefits for children starting CrossFit are prevention of obesity, improving confidence, and gaining knowledge in healthy eating habits," says Bednorz.
Strength training is imperative for any athlete in any sport.
According to Dr. Andrew Fix, Physio Room, “Children can begin strength training at a young age as long as they are able to implement and be taught proper technique.”
“Strength training will increase stress tolerance and improve injury prevention; it also allows the body to adapt in a very controlled environment so that when the athlete performs explosive movement in the sport, they have the stability needed to prevent overstress of tissues," says Dr. Chris. Overstress may result in torn ligaments or other injury.
This is no different than in kids.
Sure, kids may have a little less injury to worry about in sports because, well they’re kids, but that doesn’t mean that a little light strength training can’t improve their game.
When you look at youth sports, how often are they taught to move their bodies for the purpose of strengthening them? I can, with 100% surety, say that I despised P.E. and conditioning when we did it as part of soccer or volleyball growing up, but I didn’t realize the benefits my body would get. I think we, as a country, need to do better in coaching our kids from a young age, moving our bodies to strengthen them rather than because some doctor said so, or because society thinks we need to be a certain weight.
Back to the Basics
On that note: We need to put strength training back in schools.
Teach our children it’s ok to be strong, regardless of whether we’re male or female. We need to teach them how to properly move weights, use them safely, and to use them efficiently to strengthen our bodies’ and improve our performance in sports. Somewhere along the way, we took weight training out of schools, particularly where women’s sports are concerned. It’s not cool.
It’s no wonder why some women walk into a weight room and don’t know what to do. Society told her she didn’t know what she was doing, that she didn’t belong there, and that she’d get bulky.
Imagine if we got our kids into strength training sports, like CrossFit, sooner. Say, age six. Can you imagine the lifetime of love and appreciation they would develop for their bodies at an early age? Imagine being a confident 13-year-old girl and feeling like a total badass because you’re the only one in school who lifts weights and loves her body.
The potential is absolutely astounding.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
You watched the Olympics this Summer. You saw those athletes at the absolute peak of their career - but what are they doing the other 3.5 years before they get to the games?
I mean duh, Strength Training.
“If you want to become a stronger, faster, and more resilient athlete then there is no better way to improve performance in any sport than by gradually exposing training stimulus in the weight room," says Dr. Chris. "With a proper protocol and coaching, you can improve athletic and human performance very safely and effectively in the weight room.”
“Think of the gym as a ‘movement laboratory’. If you become a better mover - that should translate into becoming a better athlete, regardless of the sport," says Dr. Andrew.
Long story, long, CrossFit is shown to be safe for kids, provided that they have proper coaching. We would never advocate throwing them into an adult class until they come of proper age (deemed by the gym), or assuming they will benefit immediately from a class. Strength training is a marathon, not a sprint, and therefore will take some time and consistency to see the benefits.
So now you’ve heard all the jazz about Kids’ CrossFit and you want to sign your kid up. But where is the closest CrossFit Kids’ class? How do you know it’s the right fit?
“I believe a good kids program should translate into what kids do everyday in play; running, jumping, climbing, throwing, pushing and pulling,” says Josh Bednorz of BackCountry CrossFit in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
“Along with a highlighted movement for that day and ending in play so the kid will leave loving the idea of exercise. The CrossFit atmosphere should be motivating and supportive with all kids cheering one another on. “
The experience of a Kids' CrossFit class should mimic that of an adult CrossFit class: exercise can be fun!
Check out our growing list of Kids' CrossFit programs all over the U.S. to see if there is one near you!
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Malia is the force behind Lifting the Dream and a proud mompreneur. When she's not lifting heavy weights, she's probably at the beach or Disney with her family. She is a Cali girl born and raised, with salt water in her veins and sunshine in her heart. She and her family now reside in Florida soaking up the sun, heat, and all the amazing outdoor activities this state has to offer.