Anne Manka and her husband knew they wanted to do something in the physical fitness industry, but they could not determine exactly what they wanted to do in the industry.
After doing CrossFit for three years, and taking their kids with them to various Boxes as they traveled, they realized how much their kids loved it.
“It was fun doing it with them. So we were like, ‘Wait, why don’t we start a program for kids? And get them involved with the CrossFit community,’” Manka said.
In 2013, she and her husband, Dan, opened CrossFit FIXX in Tuscan, Arizona, primarily for kids. Of course, Manka said they needed to offer adult classes to keep the doors open.
“The original idea was to open it for the kids. In order to keep the gym open, obviously we had to run adult classes as well. So the adult classes have grown a lot faster than the kids. But the kids that we have, probably about half of them, their parents do it as well. And it’s kind of 50/50 as far as who started first,” Manka said.
Pam Eamranond, the owner and head Coach of CrossFit 626 in Pasadena, California, offers two classes for kids based on their age.
“We had a couple of members with kids and we figured their parents are doing CrossFit, and so they want their kids to get involved too, because they see the benefit of it,” Eamranond said.
The main difference between kids classes and adult classes at CrossFit 626 is the structure. The adult and teens classes are more structured and have a progression to the week. Eamranond said the kids’ classes are somewhat flexible, depending on what mood the kids are in that day.
“As far as the younger kids go, we actually have a program, but it’s almost not structured at all because the younger kids are always all over the place when they come in,” Eamranond said. “There will be days where they’re moving perfectly and there will be days where you’re thinking ‘What happened to you? Why are you moving like that?’ and it’s because they’re growing.”
In her programming, Manka said she uses the same movements and equipment as the adult classes, except they are scaled accordingly. For example, barbells are something the kids work up to in their workouts.
But Eamranond said the benefits are the same between kids and adults. The Box acts as a place to release energy and she has seen improvements in their schoolwork. “It’s great to see that these kids are able push themselves. They learn to find a drive or a motivation and then also the camaraderie around the gym, too. They cheer each other on. They help each other out. And they’re having a lot of fun with it,” she said.
CrossFit FIXX also offers birthday parties for kids, which Manka believes helps introduce them to CrossFit. “They’re super fun. You always hear ‘bringing together fitness and fun.’ And they’re doing so much, they don’t even know what they’re doing. They have no idea that they’re working so hard,” Manka said.
Sometimes Manka will even bring games the kids play into adult classes. She said the adults are confused at first. “It’s so funny because a lot of them will be like ‘What? We’re playing musical balls?’ And you get about 30 seconds into it and they’re all having a blast. Like, they absolutely love it.” Manka said. Aside from the fundamentals of the game, she said they also help build community and partnership between the adults.
“This goes with adults too, but especially with the kids, I think you’ve got a lot of kids out there who struggle with trying to keep up with their classmates … who just aren’t athletically capable of doing some of the sports that are out there. This is an alternative to realize that they can do stuff without having to be part of the general athletics,” Manka said. “To see the accomplishments that these kids have overcome in a year’s time of being with us, to me, that means everything.”