If we’re connected on FB, or you know me directly, you’re aware that I coach the kids program at CF Durham. Also, if we’re already connected, then you have heard much of this in pieces over the weeks of the Open. However, I want to get it all together in one place now. So here we go.

For the first time at Crossfit Durham we integrated our kids into the Open and IT. WAS. A. BLAST.

The first thing that needs to be explained is that this wasn’t my idea. As the Open was approaching I was tinkering with the ideas about modifying Open WODs in regular kid’s classes each week. But integrating them into the main room Open WOD sessions was not the plan. So how did it happen? Fair question. The answer is it was our Intramural team captain’s idea.

It started with the War of the WODs back in January. I posted pictures on FB of Caleb’s events. Tom reached out saying, “Caleb has the heart of a warrior. We need him on our Intramural team!”

I answered, “He can’t be. He doesn’t qualify. He’s not old enough to register.”

Tom’s response was, “I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, he’s on our team.”

When Tom makes that kind of statement, there’s only one right answer, “Ok. I’ll figure something out.”

So that was the spark.  “Ok. So if we got the kids in the Open, what would that look like?”

The goal was to keep everything as close to the rules/expectations of our Intramural competition, partly for simplicity’s sake and partly to make the experience as close as possible for the kids to what adults experience.

So the basic framework became:

-) Once Open WODS were announced on Thursday, I would take until mid-day Friday to figure out and announce the kid modified equivalents.

In addition to WOD structure, it included recommended weights, and some basic movement standards. This gave kids who might not make the scheduled Saturday WOD the ability to make a WOD up on their own time. Just like the adults.

-) Kids joined Intramural teams with their parents (the exception being kids who attend my classes, but their parents aren’t gym members)

-) Kids had the same opportunity as adults to complete the WOD and submit scores to me NLT than 8pm the following Monday.

If they completed the WOD and submitted that score, then they earned the same participation point for their team, just like a grown up. Kids were welcome to participate in all team “Spirit Point” opportunities at their parents’ and team’s discretion.

-) The box performed the Open WODs between 8:30am – 12 pm each Saturday. The regularly scheduled Kids class takes place at 10 on Saturday. So once I had all the kids onsite I notified the gym owner and would take one heat’s worth of time to familiarize the kids with the WOD, movements, standards and warm them up and practice a bit. Then, depending on the week, the logistics of the WOD, and the number of kids present, we either integrated the kids directly into a heat with grown ups, or ran a kids only heat on the main gym floor.

I can’t overstate how absolutely blown away I was by the positive response in EVERY direction.

The Kids:

Every kid FAR exceeded any expectation I had of them for doing the WODs themselves. They truly stepped up to every challenge laid out and crushed the workouts. Normal CF Kids classes take place outside or downstairs, anywhere but the main CF room floor. We do this to avoid the noise and distraction of the main room WODs. Saturday adult classes are always packed and loud and kind of overwhelming. So the kids’ class is always somewhere away from that. How would the kids respond to the competition style environment of the Open WODS and the sheer volume of it all? There was only one way to find out. Frankly, they all seemed to thrive in the spotlight.

It was curious actually. The first week, most of the kids wanted work stations in the back of the gym away from the front of the spectator area. In all of the following weeks, that wasn’t an issue. Kids took lanes/stations where ever there was space. No one seemed to shy away from the front of the room.

The Open also pushed the kids in terms of my expectations in the WODs themselves. In normal Kids classes, there’s never been a WOD that ran longer than 7 minutes. For 17.1 we used the 20 minute cap and rep scheme and only modified the weights used and the kids DOMINATED that WOD. They may not realize it, but standard class WODs are about to get much more challenging. 😉

Parents

Parents of participating kids impressed me ensuring that kids got their WODs in when they traveled for Spring Break; or they had schedule conflicts at home. They messages asking for clarification on movement standards, score submission deadlines, and more. It was really cool to see just how deeply and authentically everyone bought in to the process.

Some of the kids who take the CF Kids class have parents that aren’t members. Those parents usually drop their kids and come back at the end of class for pick up. That’s fine. But I warned them about the Open and encouraged them to stick around and watch their kids perform. The ones who did were stunned at what their kids accomplished. That was a trip to observe.

The Community

Athletes who aren’t parents and don’t have kids at the gym may have impressed me most. Each week, there was somebody stepping up to judge/coach a kid who needed a scorer, coming up to me before or after a heat asking, “what do you need? How can I help?” That was fantastic and critical to helping everything run smooth. The spectators were amazing as well. They were cheering the kids on through every rep, offering high fives and great jobs after the WOD and just making all the kids feel like full members of the community. The kids definitely enjoyed that.

They were being treated and spoken to as athletes, with no modifiers. People were talking to them as equals who went through a shared experience and the kids really appreciated that interaction. It was really fun to watch.

Couple of notes for next year:

  • Need to figure out what to do with points for unaffiliated kids. Those kids whose parents aren’t members, weren’t directly assigned to Intramural teams. We tracked those WODs in case we decided how to incorporate those ‘points’ into the Intramural event. In the end, those weren’t counted in the scoring. Finding a way to integrate those kids, and their points, directly into the competition could be fun.
  • Kids Only Heats All Open – for the first two weeks, we integrated the kids into heats running side by side with adults. For the last three weeks we did kids only heats. From a coaching/safety/command and control aspect, I think I prefer that. It’s just a bit simpler.
  • Kids Spirit Challenges – Next year I will declare a ‘theme’ for one or two weeks and encourage kids to wear costumes, if they choose.

I said before that this year’s Open was one of the most gratifying personally and professionally in which I have participated. The kids’ involvement and the response to it is definitely a huge part of that feeling. So “thanks” to one and all.

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