If you haven’t yet heard of CrossFit in the fitness world, then now’s the time to catch up! This fairly new way of exercising has grown in popularity at a rapid rate.
CrossFit: What is this fitness craze?
CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, created this exercise regime in 2011 and defines it as, ‘constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement.’ His idea is that CrossFit enables participants to use their bodies as nature intended. By mimicking ‘natural’ movements we make in everyday life (pulling, pushing, running, jumping, squatting etc) and by doing them properly, with speed and with weight added (when appropriate), we become more capable in many different ways. That’s what makes it attractive – rather than training your body to be good in one discipline, CrossFit’s constantly varied program aims to improve many aspects: cardio respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance. Thereby lending itself to facilitate many sporting needs as well as physical demands and movement in every day life. The variation also means it’s constantly challenging your body and mind – reducing the problem usual gyms have with retention because it is unlikely to get boring. CrossFit might be the latest craze – yet it also might just be here to stay too.
CrossFit Kids – Son Bugadelles
Let me just begin by saying, I am not a CrossFit junkie…but it’s definitely the kind of training that appeals to me. When a friend mentioned that her CrossFit gym has a CrossFit Kids class, I couldn’t resist finding out more – to appease my curiosity more than anything…
Entering CrossFit in Son Bugadelles is a bit like walking into Dr Who’s time machine. The outside looks deceptively smaller than the space indoors. Once inside though, I know I am in a proper gym. Heavy duty apparatus and weights line the walls on the left. To the right is the changing rooms and a bar with an area for seating. The middle of the floor is open space, except for thick ropes suspended from the ceiling, exactly the same as the ones that came out for PE in my junior school hall. It could appear a little intimidating to fresh eyes, but with ropes in direct sight, both my children were swinging like monkeys before I’d had a chance to say two words to Janis, the CrossFit Kids instructor!
Thankfully, Janis has an enviable way with kids – they do as he asks! His demeanour is friendly but firm and the ropes remained out of bounds for the rest of our time there. To become a CrossFit Kids facilitator, Janis trained in California on the Greg Glassman CrossFit Kids course. The benefit for him in doing a course specifically geared towards kids he thinks, is his ability to explain how to perform movements and to ensure they are done properly and safely. This is important and reassuring as the wrong technique can lead to injury. He looks for perfection first before adding any dynamic speed or weight to a movement. (For kids, any weights are very light.) Rewarding the kids when movements are performed correctly, encourages them to strive to accomplish even the exercises they may have found daunting at the start.
A typical class
Asking what a typical session in CrossFit Kids is like, was a naive question because, of course, no two sessions are ever the same. Movements that could feature after a warm up are: learning a skill/strength type movement like a hand stand, chin up or squat. This may be followed by a circuit type workout, sometimes in partners or in teams – naturally creating the social aspect of the class that the kids enjoy. Sometimes at the end of the session, one of the regular participants leads the stretching to become the teacher themselves. In doing this, Janis also encourages confidence and independence. The culture he works hard to create is one of respect – for their own bodies and for each other. He promotes equality rather than competition and yet at the same time, CrossFit helps kids understand and accept they will be good at doing some things and not so good at others. That’s a fact of life and a great lesson to learn at a young age!
Getting kids active again
It really is obvious after talking at length to Janis, that his intention is to improve the well-being of kids – it’s something which genuinely concerns him. CrossFit teaches children how to move and be active, all the while using their bodies safely and progressing within their own limits. One of his first CrossFit Kids participants started the class showing very little coordination, unable even to pull. He is now one of the most capable, which has done wonders for his confidence. Parents have noticed how their children can change very quickly as a result of CrossFit. When one young female started, her parents were worried she might be depressed. But after only three weeks of training, she lit up – she started to write songs and to sing again. Janis believes it’s because she had found something she enjoyed and it opened up a new environment to be excited about. Some parents have commented that prior to CrossFit their child was bullied, but as a result of growing confidence and strength, they are not anymore.
CrossFit allows children to push their bodies and do things they wouldn’t normally do – from what I saw, I think it teaches ‘old school’ movements kids used to do outdoors before computer games and the internet took over. The key is having fun whilst being active and CrossFit kids do have fun, it’s like a game for those who go. As with any sport, it’s not for everyone – there is an element of discipline in the class and children who attend need to be good listeners and more importantly – actually want to be there.
I admire people like Janis. He is empowering children in so many ways and earns their respect by giving them the opportunity to grow as well-balanced young people in every sense.
Written by Gemma Sherlock
Photography by Vicki Mcleod
About the author
After many years of moving around, Gemma, her husband and 2 children settled in Mallorca.
Why Nourish the Kids? Words, language and especially writing have always been a focus and priority for Gemma. She likes to express herself thoughtfully and with clarity whether writing or speaking and enjoys discussing and researching new ideas and topics, particularly when it comes to health and well-being.
Likes: Circuit training, pilates, cooking from Ottolenghi books, pukka tea, hummus, reflexology, the audible app, Spanish lessons at MTA and thoughtfulness.