A few hours after Kaliana Reeder charged through the CrossFit Monroe parking lot, mid-summer temperatures in Monroe topped 89 degrees.
She was one of the last few of her peers to high-five Monroe Boys and Girls Clubs director Jeff Rasmussen, which signaled she had finished the aggressive relay challenge trainer Vance Hill had set up for the group to at the end of their Wednesday morning session. Her teammates and competitors cheered her on in those sweaty, strenuous final steps.
With a cup of cool water in hand, the 7-year-old reflected on the past few weeks. Reeder is visiting her dad from Colorado this summer, and was one of about a dozen youth who signed up for the Boys and Girls Clubs’ first Crossfit program.
The squats, sit-ups and deadlifts were really hard, she said, but they made her a better runner, her sport of choice at home. She said she even saw the exhausting 400-meter sprints through the parking lot as an opportunity to improve.
“Practice makes perfect, right?” she said.
So much of the lessons that Crossfit teaches align with the Boys and Girls Clubs healthy initiatives, Rasmussen said. He started his own practice recently, and came up with the idea to host a camp for the kids in his summer programs.
Most of all, he wanted to introduce the group to a new sport. One through which they could make friends and learn to incorporate movement into their daily routines.
This year is the largest showing Rasmussen has seen. About 70 kids attend regularly, he said.
Trainer Vance Hill and CrossFit Monroe co-owner Amber Andresen didn’t take much convincing to get involved this season. Hill agreed to donate his time for free. His boys, Enzo and Gianni, joined him as students for the three-week class.
The class was kept small for this round, because Rasmussen would be the only chaperone. He said the 10 spots filled up in two days once registration was open.
Andresen said the group could use the facilities during off hours, so they could have the equipment to themselves — the other Crossfit Kids programs are held when the gym is in use, so it’s a shared space. She and her husband, Mike, were members of the facility, which first opened in 2007, for years before taking over.
The mother of three said they try to make the gym accessible to all age groups, with an emphasis on being family oriented. She said she sees their efforts as investing in the entire community, and that means all members of a family.
Andresen said the local affiliate has always offered discounts to members who work in law enforcement and fire response. Since she and her husband bought the business, they have expanded the lower rates to teachers and nurses.
Crossfit is a form of fitness that can help anyone up their activity level and lifestyle, Andresen said. Better coordination, body awareness, confidence and becoming part of a community are some of the improvements athletes will see through the practice, she said.
“Anybody can walk through our door and be able to do Crossfit in some way or another — we can adjust it for everybody,” she said.
Founder Greg Glassman developed the regimen over a few decades, according to the Crossfit corporation. The workouts are based on some of the most functional, common movements people use in their daily lives. They employ aspects of rowing, running and weightlifting, to name a few.
So much of the programing is based on making exercise fun for people, Hill said, and that is especially important for younger athletes.
Hill said he has been a coach for both of his sons’ recreational football teams, and first started Crossfit about a year ago. Transitioning into a certified Kids Crossfit trainer was an easy next step. He said he aims to be flexible during his classes.
Once pressure is involved in a workout, it’s no longer enjoyable, for anyone really, but even more so for youth, Hill said. He switches up the challenges regularly, and remains ready to adapt in case his class loses interest in what he has planned.
Gianni Hill, 9, says he has learned the most important part of Crossfit is to like what you are doing.
“It’s not supposed to be hard,” he said. “It’s supposed to be fun.”
Enzo Hill, 7, said he looks forward to supporting and being supported by his brother when going through the tough routines.
Natalie Marshall, 8, compared Crossfit to sports, “but a lot funner.” She said she has never sweated so much in her entire life. She warns that it can be kind of hard.
“It makes me feel good. It makes me feel powerful, like a superhero,” she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air.
Kameryn Rasmussen does track, and the 7-year-old said he usually gets fifth place in his races. Last Tuesday he got second place in three events. He said he didn’t think he could accomplish that goal, and believes Crossfit has helped him become a stronger athlete.
Jeff Rasmussen said he is hoping to organize a second Crossfit camp for August. Vance Hill said regular classes are offered 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for younger kids at the gym. He wants to start up weightlifting for teenagers, but first needs to identify enough interest.
Crossfit does not have separate programs for different age groups, Hill said. Crossfit Kids is for all youth up to 18 years old, and he is steadily spreading the word through the Sky Valley community that there is room for any kind of athlete of any age at Crossfit Monroe.Photos by Kelly Sullivan: Monroe Boys and Girls Clubs partnered with CrossFit Monroe for the first time to host a summer camp of workout sessions. Trainer Vance Hill donated his time to help coach the children, who worked on strength conditioning while also tackling the summer heat.Kaliana Reeder does burpees during a workout session at CrossFit Monroe on Wednesday, July 25.
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