CrossFit Kids at Balance Glover Park
The CrossFit Kids Program, based out of Balance Glover Park, has been operational for five months and is already a great success, growing from two students to more than 20 since February.
Led by Andrew Shniderman, the general manager at Balance Glover Park, the program works with students between the ages of 5 and 12 to teach them basic functional-movement workouts, a scaled and kid-friendly version of what one would normally find in CrossFit.
"I have always enjoyed working with kids," Andrew said. "Unlike Thomas Circle and Foggy Bottom, Glover Park is a more residential area, with lots of families and schools. Our own CrossFit and gym members were asking for some sort of program for kids."
To launch the program, Andrew recruited both members of his gym and students from the nearby British School of Washington, spending a week as a guest teacher in their physical education classes. One of the greatest challenges that he encountered was educating parents on the goals and programming of CrossFit Kids, and assuring them that it’s not the same as in the adult classes. The second was assuring parents that CrossFit is safe for kids.
“By teaching kids how to move properly, they will be less likely to develop injuries and bad habits later,” Andrew explained. “Also, we are not teaching kids to be heavy weightlifters. Depending on their ages, we drastically scale weight and exercises that match their needs. Over the years we’ve been fed a lot of bad information about exercise and weightlifting - one big one is that lifting weights before your are an adult will stunt your growth. This is not true.”
To make the workouts accessible and fun for kids, every class consists of five parts: a warmup, a review of the previous class, a focus, a Workout Of the Day (WOD), and a game. The Focus section covers a movement or skill, such as push-ups, squats, pull-ups, or deadlifts, and sometimes focuses on non-physical subjects as well, such as sportsmanship, nutrition, task completion, and transitioning - skills that students can take from the gym and apply to any aspect of their personal, social, or academic lives. The subject of that day’s Focus is then applied to the workout later in class. The class ends with a CrossFit style game, such as CrossFit Taps, CrossFit Baseball, Musical Squats, Bowling for Workouts, Farmers, and Lumberjacks.
Andrew said he’s already seen a lot of growth, physically and otherwise, from the participants.
“Confidence is another big change we’ve been seeing,” he said .”Often we’ll have kids who are not your typical gifted athletes. They are often quiet when they start, but as they learn how to succeed and improve with measurable results, you see them come out of their shells.”
John Reppas, who works out at Balance Glover Park, enrolled his two children in the program because it seemed like fun, and a good complement to the other sports they were involved in (fencing, swimming, and tennis). He said his children enjoy working with the same group of kids and coaches, and that they think the program is really fun. As a parent, he’s very happy with the program, and has seen it improve his children’s lives.
"I don’t do CrossFit," John said. "That said, I’m very happy to see them doing bodyweight stuff for now, as oppose to lifting a lot. Some of the things I’ve noticed include more goal setting, working to improve based on individual fitness goals instead of worrying about an external standard, and more body/muscle/movement awareness. [When she started the program] my daughter was one of the only girls, and a younger kid as well. She was very self conscious about both, but now she doesn’t care."
CrossFit Kids meets at Balance Glover Park on Sundays from 12-12:45 pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-5:45 pm. Contact Andrew Shniderman for more information about the program or to enroll your child.