CrossFit for Kids: Not What You Might Think

Learn what CrossFit for Kids truly is and what it it not.

Lately, we've been seeing lots of headlines about CrossFit Kids, programs for children under 18.

At first glance, this sounds like not such a good idea. Hang Cleans and Deadlifts for 5-year-olds? But with more than 10,000 CrossFit boxes (gyms) worldwide, the number of preschool CrossFit Kids centers around the country is approaching 1,000.

Look a little closer and you'll discover that CrossFit Kids, on the primary preschool level, is more reminiscent of an elementary school gym class.

"There is a stigma," said Jeff Martin, a CrossFit Kids co-founder. The preschool program is "completely different," he said.

CrossFit Kids is meant to be all about fun and to instill the idea that physical activity is something to enjoy. Envision duck, duck goose and crawl under mats folded in half; rope climbing and hula hooping; bouncy balls and jumping jacks; crab walks and bear crawls; obstacle courses and tumbling. 

There is a progression beyond preschool, however, and over time, CrossFit Kids has its students doing the same moves as the adults for strength, agility, endurance and power. According to their website, the principle of "mechanics" is important to establish early on to create "physical literacy," teach proper movements and prevent injuries later on.

The New York Times reported that 460,000 children under 13 used personal trainers last year.  In 2009, that number was 140,000.

Martin either predicted the trend in the market or saw that his younger children were bored while his older kids ran around to their various activities. He consulted with pediatric physical therapists to develop a program—no weights, 30 minutes or less of class time—for recently potty-trained children.

"The goal is to have kids be physically active and physically literate so they can express athleticism in whatever sport they like. They can have a fun experience doing something physically active and buy into a physically active lifestyle," Martin said.

RELATED: Benefits and Dangers of CrossFit for Athletes

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