By Joanne Cogle, CSCS, MS, owner of CrossFit CSG, local military spouse and mom to 7-year-old daughter
Red Rover Red Rover, Tug of War, Double Dutch, Frozen Tag…where did those simple playground games go; simple playground games that simulated gross motor movements and playground camaraderie. They have long been replaced with indoor recess, video games and specific sports activities.
Locking our kids into one specific sport and eliminating movement activities is doing them a disservice. Our children are missing out on a vital part of growing up; the sport of play.
Sure, they play baseball or basketball, but can they perform functional gross motor skills, like squatting or pulling up their body weight, as efficiently as they can drill a ball? Probably not. Think back to when you were in elementary school and performing the President’s Fitness Test. Imagine if you had kept that same strength and agility through your younger years. Would you be a different parent? Would your back hurt less? Would you move better?
Most fitness professionals, including myself, recommend getting your child(ren) into as many movement activities as possible while keeping it fun. What might have turned your crank as a kid may not turn theirs. Letting them find an activity involving movement that they enjoy has been proven to increase self-esteem and confidence, improve grades and coping skills, relieve stress and anxiety and the list goes on.
One of the best activities that I have come across has been CrossFit. Now before you roll your eyes and turn the page, hear me out. This activity is not about coaches yelling in your face or throwing up in a bucket. By its own definition, it is constant, varied, functional movement performed across different modalities at high intensity. Our kids’ program at CrossFit CSG, for ages 5-9, focuses on a variety of non-sport, specific movements that are designed to challenge the class mentally, within their physical abilities. We keep the class size small for safety and have certified coaches instructing the program where the kids are constantly engaged in learning activities through play and games. If you are interested in getting your child involved, schedule a No Sweat Intro at www.crossfitcsg.com.
While some of our young athletes use our CrossFit Kids program as their sole activity, many of our young athletes are part of their own respective sports outside of our gym. In addition to improving athletic performance, we are confident that our program provides children a new and refreshing perspective on health and fitness that they will carry with them into adolescence and adulthood.
If organized classes are not the best choice for your child, there are plenty of play resources accessible within any community. Head to your local playground to start up some physical games, such as creating an obstacle course. Take your child to the Columbus Riverwalk for a bike ride which provides a safe space with little to no traffic. Hike one of the many local trail systems for a great way to unplug and reengage. Create a scavenger hunt with fitness clues, play hide and go seek, make forts out of cardboard boxes or kick a ball around. Take the family swimming, play catch in the front yard, rake a pile of leaves and play in them or simply jump in puddles after a rainstorm.
Regardless of the activity, you might choose; the important thing is to keep your child moving and continue to stimulate their imagination. They will be happier, perform better in school, and one day they will thank you for keeping them moving.