Barbells and Babies

By Kelsie P.

‘CrossFit’. By simply hearing the word, an abundance of stigmas, fallacies and negative connotations about the sport jump to the forefront. Inaccurate generalizations such as “CrossFit is a cult” or “CrossFit is dangerous” are quick to spring to mind – but possibly the most controversial misconception about the sport is “CrossFit is harmful to children”. Rightfully, with the large amount of media attention the sport receives, CrossFit is adversely perceived as harmful to adults, let alone to the bodies and minds of developing youth. Many think that weightlifting and high intensity workouts at a young age can lead to injury due to the strain it places on youth’s growing physiques. However, this is not the case. CrossFit is safe and beneficial for kids for various reasons; particularly on the physical, social and mental wellbeing components of development.

Many people see videos on social media of men and women with crazy heavy Olympic lifts, such as a Snatch or Clean-and-Jerk, and think that is what youngsters who are involved in the sport are doing as well. Yet, what the public may not be aware of, is that children have special programing within CrossFit, which is tailor made for their little bodies and abilities for their age level (task climate). CrossFit Kids places a focus on training muscles for strength, stability and longevity, with limited use of the barbell. (CrossFit Kids, 2016) Workouts and exercises are scaled to ensure the safety and competency of the athletes. Basic movements such as pushups, squats, burpees, box jumps, etc. are the basis of CrossFit Kids; these exercises are body weight oriented and promote mobility within joints and fine-tuning of basic motor skills. Strengthening of muscles, increased flexibility and learning fundamentals of core movement is proven to lead to prevention of later injuries. (Nierenberg, 2016) CrossFit Kids also focuses on metabolic conditioning and cardiovascular efficiency. Strength and cardio exercises work hand-in-hand in keeping youth in CrossFit fit and healthy; battling the possibility of weight concerns. (Klein, 2014) Coaches of CrossFit preach that fitness is a lifelong journey, giving 100% effort at all times and the importance of always striving to be a ‘better you’; hence, instilling a positive outlook on exercise and developing work ethic for the future (adult relationships, positive view of personal future and caring climate assets). (Bitonti, 2014)

Aside from the physical advantages of CrossFit, the sport offers a number of social and mental wellbeing benefits. CrossFit is known for it’s strong and supportive community. CrossFit is taught almost exclusively in group settings. An hour is spent working on strength and metcon components with 10 or so other athletes. This hour is spent screen-free and interacting with other athletes. You form bonds with other members, become friends outside of classes and support each other during workouts (interpersonal competence asset). Kids foster social skills, learn to effectively communicate with one another and how to work together in groups, through simply attending classes (social capital, and positive peer influence and conflict resolution asset; Imbo, 2016) Becoming an active member of the CrossFit community gives youth a feeling of belonging, inclusiveness and identity. Additionally, mastering skills and lifts gives youth a sense of accomplishment and in turn boosts their self-esteem (self-esteem asset). The more confident they become with their abilities in the gym, the more confident youth become with themselves outside of CrossFit (personal power).

Youth will feel stronger physically, mentally and socially through CrossFit, making it a positive developmental activity!

Resources:

Bitonti, D. (2014, January 11). CrossFit for kids? If done properly, trainers say it can
have huge benefits. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from
http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/crossfit-for-kids-if-done-properly-trainers-
say-it-can-have-huge-benefits-1.1634845

CrossFit Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2016, from https://kids.crossfit.com/

Imbo, W. (2016, May 20). 5 Ways Kids Can Benefit from CrossFit. Retrieved
November 13, 2016, from http://boxlifemagazine.com/5-ways-kids-benefit-
from-crossfit/

Klein, S. (2014, March 22). We Tried It: CrossFit for Kids. Retrieved November 13,
2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-klein/we-tried-it-
crossfit-for-kids_b_4993663.html

Nierenberg, C. (2016, March 1). CrossFit for Kids? Experts Weigh the Benefits and
Risks. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from
http://www.livescience.com/53898-crossfit-for-kids-benefits-and-risks.html

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8 Responses to Barbells and Babies

  1. Josh McInnis says:

    I believe the stigma of CrossFit come largely from the powerlifting, and bodybuilding areas of physical exercise. From my personal experience as a powerlifting and bodybuilding competitor Crossfit was always seen as a sport for the”lazy” and “weak”, this was view was a very weak argument with very little strong evidence to support its claim. I personally investigated into what Crossfit is and found a variety of strengths that the Crossfit sport provided that was lacking in weightlifting oriented sports.

  2. moxford1 says:

    Great post Kels! I have to admit I have had all a lot of the same negative thoughts and ideas about CrossFit that you have mentioned. I did not know a lot of about the activity and from this post I now have a better understanding. You have debunked the idea that CrossFit will have negative physical outcomes, especially in children. I think you have also made a clear connection between CrossFit and how it can foster positive youth development. The community aspect of CrossFit is a very important to creating new development. This community and sense of belonging can help in creating a sense of purpose, an asset that contributes to forming a positive identity in youth. If youth have a sense of purpose they will be able to feel better about themselves and get along easily with others. This is only a small part of the many positive developmental factors that you have mentioned. It seems like you have proved CrossFit to be an activity for all ages!

  3. johareid says:

    This is a very interesting post! I’ve been an athlete my whole life and as I start ending my career in team sports, I’ve always thought about ways to keep fit. I’ve seen people I know who attend CrossFit gyms and it looks like so much fun!! I never really thought about children doing CrossFit, mainly because I’m not very educated about the sport itself. I feel as though providing youth with the opportunity to engage in a sport that can give them so many benefits is important. I kind of wish I knew about CrossFit before now so I could have gotten heavily involved in it. I also feel it is important for youth to learn fundamental movement skills and gain the strength necessary to be able to be physically active for life. Youth who participate in CrossFit could have an advantage to being chosen for sports teams because of the physical capability of the youths body.
    This is a very interesting post! I’ve been an athlete my whole life and as I start ending my career in team sports, I’ve always thought about ways to keep fit. I’ve seen people I know who attend CrossFit gyms and it looks like so much fun!! I never really thought about children doing CrossFit, mainly because I’m not very educated about the sport itself. I feel as though providing youth with the opportunity to engage in a sport that can give them so many benefits is important. I kind of wish I knew about CrossFit before now so I could have gotten heavily involved in it. I also feel it is important for youth to learn fundamental movement skills and gain the strength necessary to be able to be physically active for life. Youth who participate in CrossFit could have an advantage to being chosen for sports teams because of the physical capability of the youths body.

  4. jwaye1 says:

    Very interesting topic Kelsie! I can definitely say that I used to have negative views towards CrossFit. I used to think exactly like you said that “CrossFit is dangerous” however I’m not sure who or what influenced this on me. CrossFit is just like any other sport offering physical, social and mental wellbeing benefits. You made a great connection showing how CrossFit can actually foster positive youth development and develop children participating in CrossFit into athletes just like any other sport. From my personal experience with youth I actually used to coach ringette to someone that wasn’t enjoying the sport, she decided that she’d try out CrossFit with her parents once to see if she’d enjoy that. She ended up loving the sport so much that she quit ringette to become fully involved in CrossFit. CrossFit is something new and exciting and modifications can be made for all ages. I would definitely love to try it out sometime!

    Jessica W.

  5. dpelkey1 says:

    Great post Kelsie! i agree with Josh that a lot of the stigma behind cross-fit being bad comes from powerlifters and bodybuilders. From being around gyms for a while I always here people talking bad about cross fit without knowing anything about. However, if they were to look into it more they would see its basically a physiologically perfect way for getting in shape.

    Dexter P.

  6. darrionlyne says:

    Great article Kelsey. I feel there is a lot of stigma surrounding cross-fit and its linkage to improper form when practicing. I am not very educated on the sport itself however, I have not seen a lot of publicity that encourages. However, I believe that making a game out of working out for youth would have beneficial impactions! Getting youth inside the gym earlier to learn proper techniques and workout routines allows them to have self-esteem in their ability. This may be linked to their future athletic participation that leads them into being active for life.
    Teaching fundamental skills that use body weight such as push-ups and sit-ups is a great way to have youth experience lifting their own body weight, and it is a way of training for many other sports; therefore, experiences learned through cross-fit would enable them to be more efficient in many other sports. Overall, I believe that having the choice to do something other than traditional sport is helpful to youth who may need diversity in choice. I wish that I could have trained cross-fit when I was younger so that I would have been more knowledgeable of how to lift weights once I became more competitive in wrestling.

    Darrion S.

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