3 Reasons to Consider CrossFit...for Your Kids

July 14, 2016

Photocredit: Crossfit Aggieland

Exercise. It’s good for us...good for us all. In fact, I’m not sure there are many people who would argue that exercise isn’t healthy. Adults and kids alike, all need exercise.

Most health officials recommend that adults get 30 minutes of exercise daily. For children and adolescents, that number is actually increased: both the Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children and teens need to participate in moderate to vigorous exercise at least 60 minutes each day.

And yet, approximately 12.7 million children and teens in the US between 2-19 are obese. Only one quarter of the nation’s youth receives the recommended amount of daily exercise.

Too often, America’s youth spends more time sitting around in front of a screen. Between TVs, computers, DVDs, video games, phones--you name it--the average 8-18 year old spends about 7-8 hours on screen media daily.

Obviously, too much screen time is a leading cause of all sorts of issues including childhood obesity; however, what does adding 60 minutes of physical activity do for kids?

3 Major Lifestyle Benefits

Kids who exercise for 60 minutes a day, including strength, aerobic, and flexibility training, have increased:

  1. Physical Health
  2. Mental Health
  3. Academic Health

Whether you think your child spends too much time in front of the screen, or perhaps just needs an activity to get involved in after school, it’s time to look at the health benefits you could help your child achieve.

Physical Health:
Increasing physical activity in youth contributes to a host of lifelong physical health benefits. Just by ensuring your child receives 60 minutes of activity per day, you are helping your child
    • Strengthen the heart, reducing the risk of heart disease--even in early childhood
    • Strengthen muscles and bones, preventing osteoporosis
    • Strengthen the lungs--the stronger the lungs, the more your child can do, for longer, without getting tired
    • Reduce blood sugar levels which can help reduce the risk for developing diabetes
    • Prevent cancer--especially colon, prostate, uterine, and breast
    • Regulate blood pressure, reducing the risk for heart disease as as help reduce stress
    • Keep the arteries and veins clear by reducing harmful cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke
    • Manage weight and excess fat stores while warding off diabetes
    • Increase reflexes, coordination, strength, flexibility, and endurance--allowing your child to overcome daily physical challenges
Academic Health:

Studies have shown a strong correlation between fitness scores and academic achievement among children and teens. Physical activity is connected to academic/brain growth and development all throughout childhood. Those simple 60 minutes per day can help your child

    • Improve test scores and build brain cells linked with memory
    • Keep from zoning out, whether in class, working on homework, etc.
    • Learn material easier and receive better overall grades
    • Increase blood flow to the brain resulting in heightened alertness and mental focus
    • Show higher levels of creativity and fast reaction times
    • Increase openness to learning and show more capacity for knowledge
    • Have higher cognitive challenge scores and crisper thoughts and actions
    • Improve the ability to learn and learn faster after exercise!
    • Increase complex thinking skills
    • Create spatial and mental alertness related to reading and other academic skills--especially from activities that include balance and jumping
    • Reduce stress and mental fatigue at the equivalent of taking an antidepressant
    • Gain confidence, teamwork, and leadership skills  

Obviously, exercising your kiddo is of great importance. But why CrossFit Kids and not just any other team-directed sport, dance, or gymnastics class?

Why It Works: CrossFit Kids

Children and teens should be participating in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. This exercise should include aerobic activity, muscle and bone strengthening, and flexibility training. Haven’t you seen a child on a playground run from the swings to the slide (aerobic), climb the ladders and monkey bars (strength) and bend down to grab something interesting out of the dirt (flexibility)?

Kids need three types of training and CrossFit Kids not only provides each, but does so with advanced trainers skilled in childhood exercise development and needs.


CrossFit Teaches the basic principles of mechanics (form and techniques), consistency (healthy routines) and last--intensity. Kids aren’t thrown into the weight room expected to max out on deadlifts and handstand push-ups; kids learn the basic movement skills, how to perform them safely and correctly, and how to advance them when necessary and able.

“CrossFit Kids emphasizes good movement through childhood and adolescence. Consistently good mechanics translates to physical literacy, enhanced sports performance, as well as prevents fewer injuries for kids. [...]

We provide an alternative to sedentary pursuits, which means less childhood obesity and all around better health for our children. CrossFit kids is designed to be minimalist; it is inexpensive and often requires little or no equipment, allowing a wide array of socioeconomic groups an opportunity to be physically fit and active throughout their lives.” --kids.crossfit.com

So What’s a CrossFit Kids Class Like?

“We introduce ourselves and answer questions like, ‘What did you learn in school today?’ Then together, we do a warm-up which typically covers basic movements--burpees, running, push-ups, squats, pull-ups, and sit-ups.” --Coach Tori at CrossFit Harrisonburg.

Like most CrossFit Kids coaches, Tori teaches a warm-up, moves on to skill work, advances to the class workout, and ends the 60-minute activity time with a game.

“In skill work we do things like monkey hangs on a pull-up bar, we work on pull-ups--which the kids love--we review squat form and talk about how much we squat in every-day activities. They always learn more about CrossFit during this time.”

“For the workout, I usually let the kids design their workout while I help with a rep scheme. They love taking ownership on their work, and they really love playing a game at the end of class. Some days we play an active game, and some days we play a brain game while being active. I always try to stimulate their brains before they go home to do their homework.”

What to Look For in a Good Coach:

  • An instructor ratio of no more than 1:10
  • Approved CrossFit Level One Training, CrossFit Kids Training, a background check, and experience with kids
  • Constant supervision in a safe, well-lit, ventilated environment
  • Proper warm-up and cool-down activities, including stretching
  • Low resistance work that focuses on major muscle groups
  • Combining skill practice, workouts, and games to build strength and conditioning, including gymnastics, weight lifting, body weight movements, running, jump-roping, and more

A good CrossFit Kids class should be safe, fun, and energetic. In addition to learning basic exercise skills, children will be better equipped to make healthier food choices, gain confidence that translates to all areas of life, become more focused in school, even transition into team sports, dance, or gymnastics easily with a reduced risk of sports-related injuries. Most children will even learn to become better leaders--both in school, on the team, and later in life.


How Can You Further Help Your Child?

Don’t just throw your child into an exercise class. Whether you’re exercising already or you’re only just thinking about beginning, it’s never too late to start living a better, and more motivating life for your family! There are several simple things you can start doing now to emphasize the importance of movement and living an active, fun, energetic life.

  • Set the example! Are you already exercising? Can you bike with your kids? Go on a hike or a walk together? Make fitness a priority in your home and limit screen time.
  • Make fitness fun. What does your child like to do? Dance? Play soccer? Gymnastics? Don’t just limit kids to traditional sports--try a variety of different activities. And don’t forget--CrossFit Kids combines gymnastics, strength training, aerobic endurance, flexibility, and even brain games!
  • Help your child get used to and more importantly, ENJOY walking more.
  • Dance, run, skate, play. Go on regular outings together--go to the park, explore the outdoors, throw a frisbee, etc.
  • Don’t be too strict about an active life. Remember--the goal isn’t to be perfect--it’s just 60 minutes a day of activity.

Just a simple one-hour chunk of your child’s day can make the difference in his or her confidence, social life, academic work, and both physical and mental health. Don’t you owe it to your child to provide an atmosphere that will allow him or her to thrive?

For daily CrossFit Kids workouts and Registered Program announcements, visit the CrossFit Kids Instagram: @crossfitkids.

This is a guest post from Stephanie Walker, a CrossFit and Health Coach who believes everyone deserves to be fitter, healthier, and happier. Stephanie is the author of The Total Health and Fitness Makeover, and is passionate about helping others transform their lives through fitness and good foods--just as she did her own! You can follow Steph on InstagramFacebook or Strongfigure.com.Is CrossFit Right for Kids? 3crossfit