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!
Bitonti, D. (2014, January 11). CrossFit for kids? If done properly, trainers say it can
have huge benefits. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from
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-
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-
Nierenberg, C. (2016, March 1). CrossFit for Kids? Experts Weigh the Benefits and
Risks. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from