I had two opportunities to be involved in new fitness programs for children, and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed both of them tremendously, for different reasons.
At South Island CrossFit, they are trying a new program for toddlers called “Tumblers”. There is a certified gym instructor, but I was there to assist and help out. Even though the children in the class were only on average three years of age, I was amazed at their ability to roll and go through some of the motions taught to them. I mean, even I can’t really do proper somersaults! But the class is still in development, and we are looking at other ideas to implement to fill out the toddlers’ short attention spans. One of our ideas is to cut some PVC pipes used by the Crossfitters to stretch out before the workout and teach the young kids how we use the poles. And we want to incorporate some CrossFit moves to the class as well. And if my idea is considered, there will be an essence of ZooFit in the class as well- “Animal of the Day” exercises. And who knows, maybe I’ll finally learn how to do a cartwheel!
I also got to experience something that either has never been done before, or is so unique and secret that no one has ever taken photos of the activity before. Vibrant Fitness is hosting a fundraising event of a Parkour Course for Kids. Now, Parkour for kids isn’t new. But Adam’s vision must be, because looking for stock photos of the activity led to zero results! This is actually very exciting! I am working with a personal trainer who not only practices Operant Conditioning and Positive Feedback, but he creates programs no one has ever considered before! So, this Parkour course for kids takes place at the Island County Fairgrounds, which is where Vibrant Fitness is located. There is an open barn with straw bales, wooden planks, and movable benches for us to design a new and different obstacle parkour course every week. Adam is teaching kids from ages 9ish-12ish many great exercises using body movements, and teaching natural movements rather than relying on expensive equipment. They, too, are going to learn to roll (I guess, I may have to suck it up and learn to roll myself). The most fun the kids have so far is vaulting over hay bales and tearing through the obstacle course.
I had the opportunity to practice what I preach and use what I call “Reinforcing Communication” (I used to call it “positive communication”, but realized I was using the terms incorrectly). Reinforcing Communication focuses on telling the student what you want them to do, rather than telling them what NOT to do. I did catch myself telling the participants at least once to “not do the ‘camel walk'” and learned to tell them instead “focus on your form. Make sure you are doing the bear crawl with opposite arm and leg moving at the same time. If you are losing form, try slowing down to ensure you do it well. The speed will follow”. I also tried to remember to praise the effort and encourage them to challenge themselves. I was thoroughly impressed with how well many of the participants could do even some of the complex movements. I told Adam it was going to be fun discovering new ways to challenge the kids.
One thing I realized after participating in the development of two kids’ fitness classes. Child’s play is not so simple. But I do enjoy a proper challenge, so mission accepted! I get to pretend I’m a kid again!