Ramona’s CrossFit Kids gains worldwide visibility
By Karen Brainard
Last weekend, nearly 50 trainers from all over the U.S. traveled to Ramona to learn the benefits of teaching a strength and conditioning program designed for children and teens that is gaining in popularity.
The two-day seminar was hosted by Ramonans Jeff and Mikki Martin, founders of the international CrossFit Kids and directors of CrossFit’s youth programs.
It wasn’t the first time visitors came from afar to the Martins’ CrossFit studio on Maple Street. Hong Kong and New Zealand are just a couple of places that trainers have traveled from to learn about CrossFit Kids.
“Our little gym is known more from around the world than in Ramona,” said Jeff.
The Martins became involved with CrossFit for adults and began adapting it for children in 2003. CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman asked them to develop a youth program, and CrossFit Kids was born in 2004. Now, the program has close to 900 programs around the world and thousands of children participating.
“The last two years have been very different visibility-wise,” noted Jeff.
CrossFit Kids not only creates a lifelong love of fitness for children, but helps them academically, said Jeff.
The Martins looked into Learning Readiness Physical Education, which began in Naperville, Ill., and shows that students who are physically active are more academically alert. They added an education aspect to their program.
“We’ve had four valedictorians come out of CrossFit,” noted Jeff.
About 1,200 schools nationwide have implemented CrossFit Kids into physical education or after-school programs. Olive Peirce Middle School in Ramona is one that offers it as an after school program.
Erik Preston, owner of CrossFit Kids San Elijo in Carlsbad, opened Saturday’s instructional seminar, explaining that CrossFit is constantly varied, has functional movements, and offers high intensity. The movements are natural and safe, providing the ability to move large loads and the capability of expressing power, and are varied so kids do not become bored, Preston said.
“Fun is very important,” he told his audience.
To exemplify that, during a session break, the Martins’, 21-year-old son Connor set up a game of dodge ball for the visiting trainers but varied the game several times to keep it interesting and incorporated different movements. The Martins, who noted that the ball was “squishy,” said kids will think they’re playing a game but are really working out.
CrossFit Kids also teaches about nutrition. The top health concerns for children are obesity and Type 2 diabetes, said Preston, but CrossFit trainers are seeing these health trends reversed among their performers.
He also said the program hones life skills for children, such as perseverance, competence, goal setting, confidence, and discipline.
Weightlifting is a big part of CrossFit, said the Martins. Mikki added that there was a myth that weightlifting was bad for children, but studies have found that it’s good if highly supervised.
“What matters is that their movement is correct and safe,” explained Jeff. He said they have had three national power-lifting record-holders from their gym.
“Our depth of experience is unique because we’ve been doing this since 2003,” said Mikki.
Besides the workout programs, CrossFit for Kids also participates in initiatives to help others around the world.
Through special workout events, CrossFit Kids affiliates raise money to build schools in Kenya, provide free swim lessons for children of first responders, and benefit such programs as Infant Swim Resource to prevent infant drowning, and the Cure, Prevention and Treatment of Catastrophic Injury for Children, for which they raised $15,000 just in Ramona.
“I realize there’s so much power in the community. It’s been easy to rally the troops to help,” said Mikki.
The Martins have three sons living in Ramona—Connor, Keegan, 18, and Duncan, 14. Travis, 27, lives in Texas. All four are involved in CrossFit.
At the weekend seminar, Alison Patenaude, a trainer from Ramona, also contributed to the instruction, and Dr. Jon Gary, a San Diegan with a doctorate in microbiology, spoke about the science behind the CrossFit Kids program.
The Martins are offering free SAT prep classes, for 8th through 12th graders after a twice-weekly workout program. The hour-long SAT prep class will focus on critical reading, writing, math and test taking skills. Classes started Aug. 7 but students will be accepted until Aug. 14. There is a cap of 20 students.
CrossFit Kids in Ramona is at 432 Maple St., Suites 1 and 2. For more information , call 760-788-8091 or visit crossfitbrandx.com.
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