And, as a good mother should, I have recruited my two sons into the sport along with me. My boys are vastly different from each other in both personality and body type, but both have reaped the benefits of the box.
So, why should your kids do it? Based on my experience in raising boys I believe the reasons are pretty simple. The following, in no particular order, are the motivating factors behind my choice to have my boys in CrossFit.
I’ve seen big changes in the attitudes of the kids at CrossFit; some of whom walked into the box for the first time with slumped shoulders, and eyes cast downward. These same boys and girls that lacked self-confidence that first day, today walk around with heads held high and big smiles. They know they are accomplishing something, they see marked improvements in skills, lifts, speed, and the positive feedback from coaches bolsters self-esteem.
Sometimes herding a group of 7 – 14 year-olds is a challenge. It’s a class of widely varying abilities and let’s face it some kids have the attention span of a gnat. But because the classes are well structured the kids fall in line, know the flow of the class, and become self-disciplined as a result. They even helping to keep each other engaged throughout the hour.
CrossFit coaches command respect. At our box both kids and adults “line-up” before every WOD, and there is a highly organized approach to the entire hour in the box. When a strong and capable coach stands before you, commanding your attention and respect you are hard-pressed not to give it. This transfers out of the box too, and the kids know when their undivided attention is required.
4. Emotional Release
Kids get the same release from dropping heavy weights as adults do. I cannot tell you how many times my pre-teen has complained about going to CrossFit only to tell me, “I’m so glad I worked out today,” after the class was over. And, now that my son is almost 13 and his hormones are raging there’s no better time in his life to have access to this type of emotional outlet.
5. The Bond
When your kids grow up, and as they approach the teen years, it’s easy to lose touch. They become interested in the opposite sex, and you become less and less cool with each passing day. CrossFit is a common bond that can spark a conversation and keep you closer.
6. Better School Performance
Multiple studies have shown that exercise can be beneficial for school age children, and I recently saw an article that talks about how younger kids (age 11) reap the educational benefits of exercise into their teen years. I know that for my boys having a schedule to follow, keeps them focused as they know they only have a certain number of hours to do homework.
7. Athletic Performance
Improved performance is probably a foregone conclusion, but it’s amazing to see the level of improvement your kids can achieve when they really go hard at CrossFit. When my son started he did pull-ups with the second widest band, today he can crank out kipping pull-ups and even a few strict pull-ups. It took a while for him to do a handstand, but he’s close to handstand push-ups now. And his lifts have seen huge improvements as well.
The culture of CrossFit definitely extends to the kids, and no kid is ever left behind. I think the concept of cheering for the last person, and urging your peers to push themselves is something that should be taught in school – it is certainly taught in the box! When kids first join CrossFit the concepts are clearly foreign to them, but they catch on and the culture becomes a natural part of who they are. If a kid comes in who is a little slower or weaker, it doesn’t matter he/she is met with the same acceptance as the best athlete in the class.
9. They now know what a bad-ass mom (or dad) you really are!
If for no other reason, every CrossFit mom (or dad) should have children who are in awe of their strength and skills! Once your kids have done a few WODs, and know what it takes and just how hard it is, they develop a new appreciation for what you do in the box!