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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 01-27-2005, 10:39 AM   #1
John Walsh
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Question: Would a reemphasis on physical education in public schools have a significant impact on reducing obesity among children?

My oldest son is in a pre school program at the local public school. The school is highly touted for their scholastic achievement. I asked the teacher if they had any recreation time. She said no, that there wasn’t enough time and it was too difficult to round up twenty 3 and 4 year olds to the gym directly across the hall from the preschool class. I didn’t get too worked up about this because it is only a half-day program twice a week and my boys get plenty of physical recreation. I thought it was telling that the teacher didn’t find it important. She is at least 40 pounds overweight and she smokes.

Personally I think that if one has developed healthy habits in childhood whether it’s reading or exercise they can pick up on this and improve on it later in life even if they hated it as kid. It’s my contention that they can do this easier than adults who were never exposed or encouraged in these habits. I hated to read as a kid but was forced to. I am now a voracious reader. I also had to study music, which I hated as a boy. After a 15 year hiatus I picked up several different instruments to study and believe it was easier than those that never had the exposure or foundation in music.

I’m operating on the assumption that the same can be said for physical education. Am I being too presumptuous? Have we lost the battle? I’m also thinking that at the very least a gym class will force a kid to move his bones at least for a few hours a week.
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Old 01-27-2005, 12:05 PM   #2
Brian Gibson
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I can't speak for anyone else, but I think that makes sense. When I was small my dad worked out regularly at our house with a small weight bench and some concrete weights. I think this exposure created a desire in myself to exercise when I got older.
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Old 01-27-2005, 12:06 PM   #3
Jeff Martin
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John,
I'm sure that most of us here agree with you. I at least whole heartedly do. My sense is that the more a child identifies with the adults around them the more they will copy their behaviour, for good or bad. I've read studies that showed that children who saw their parents make a habit of reading become better readers in school and make a habit of reading themselves.

I have three sons ages 13, 11, and 6. They have grown up watching their parents make a habit of working out. In their own way (given their different developmental ages and temperments) they have all made habits of working out. My 13 year old is very strict now about following the WOD. My 11 year old wants to do anything that will help him improve in the sports he plays. Our 6 year old will stand up from watching TV and announce it is time for his workout and go off to do jumping jacks and push ups. My feeling is that no matter what their experience is in school regarding PE my kids will have a healthy lifestyle when they grow up because of what they have seen and done in our home.

I think the point really is how do you reach kids who do not have parents interested in physical education or an active lifestyle. Just getting a kid to move his bones a few hours a week will not set him up for a lifetime of being physically active. We were all subjected to that at one point or another and some people just grow to resent it or fear it. My sense is you have to find a way to make moving fun and help kids who don't have a good role model to find a way to become connected to their physical bodies. Ryan and I have spoken about this and the idea of making workouts fun, or even the idea that the kids don't realize their working out. They simply come away with a positive feeling of having actively played. Two of our CF members have taken the CrossFit for kids concept into the school system. One is a second grade teacher, the other volunteers to teach PE at a private school. They tell me that last year most of the kids complained about PE. This year, taking the concept of incoorperating CrossFit movements into play they say the kids are asking for longer PE classes and enjoying them. (One group even asked to do bottom to bottom tabata squats. Perhaps instead of helping we have created a sickness.) I hope this approach works, my sense is it will reach more kids than traditional PE class would.

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Old 01-27-2005, 12:27 PM   #4
Ryan Atkins
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Jeff,

Funny you mentioned about the kids ASKING to do bottom-to-bottom tabata squats. Occasionally in my gymnastics classes (usually low level boys recreational) I'll show kids moves that aren't on the list of skills they're supposed to learn - pistols, tuck-ups, skin-the-cat, one-handed push-ups - whatever I can think of. Usually I'll have them try it while they're waiting in line for our 'assigned' activity and will often refer to it as the 'challenge move of the day' and try to approach it in as much of a playful way as possible. Quite a few of them have, without prompting, approached me in class a week or two later so they could demonstrate their progress (and in some cases competence) in a previous challenge move. Others ask to practice some of the moves while waiting in line (how many times have you heard of kids ASKING to do tuck-ups - I guess they were disappointed when I told them to do a pike stretch). I think the combination of making things fun and simply EXPOSING kids to the movements will work wonders.

Ryan
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Old 01-27-2005, 01:34 PM   #5
Larry Lindenman
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Jeff, this would be a good time to mention that my 9 year old follows your WOD for kids on your Brand X site. He also hops on the eliptical trainer for 10 minutes after the WOD. He is very into sports and believes training will make him better. That kids WOD is great. The only thing I see with him is his form need constant monitering. Great job, my son and I thank you.
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Old 01-27-2005, 02:28 PM   #6
Jeff Martin
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Ryan,
I think your spot on here. Another thing I love to do is when the kids have mastered a move have them demonstarte it to the adult class. The other day I had my 6 year old Duncan demonstrate pistol squats to the CrossFit class. He loved it and I think the 20 something guys worked a little harder that day on getting the movement down.
Larry,
Thanks for the feedback. please feel free to jump in and make suggestions anytime. Form issues seem to be a constant and universal concern with the kids. With the young ones it seems that they are working to make their bodies do what they want them to. With Connors age we see the competetive side sneak in. They seem willing to cheat the movement to be the first one done. As you say constant monitoring is required.
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Old 01-27-2005, 05:14 PM   #7
Pat Janes
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Jeff; more kudos from me. My son Christopher (10) loves his WOD (as you know from my postings on your forum). It is a fantastic idea.

Good to hear that your son is also participating, Larry. You're getting quite a following, Jeff.

Again, form is a constant issue with Christopher:

-Pushups not to full depth (barely any depth sometimes)
-Lots of squat form issues; but we're successfully overcoming these with OHS practice with a steel bar
-Med ball cleans; keeping arms straight through 1st/2nd pull, using hip extension, not arms etc

But then these things are most likely issues with a large number of adult WOD participants, also.


I'm all for the "lead by example" approach. I've got one 10yo convert; an 8yo that loves gymnastic-type work (we'll both be starting classes soon); and a 4yo that goes out the back pretty much every day and runs around the acreage and does dumbbell swings with tiny little .5kg dumbbells. They all do it, because they want to be like Dad...

A bit too late for my 12yo daughter I think; I just embarrass her when I'm running around the backyard and swinging/throwing weights around etc...
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Old 01-27-2005, 05:19 PM   #8
Pat Janes
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Oh... and as for the in-school phys-ed. I guess we are lucky here, because as far as I know, all schools here in QLD, Australia have a phys-ed program.

All of my kids have participated in some form of physical education during school hours. It doesn't always seem to translate into visibly improved health/fitness in the student population, but it would have to help (particularly with those kids that would otherwise restrict their exercise to changing the CD in the X-Box).
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Old 01-27-2005, 09:15 PM   #9
Mike Minium
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Outstanding discussion so far...moving to Fitness.

Mike
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Old 01-27-2005, 10:54 PM   #10
Beth Moscov
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John, I am 100% with you on this. And I agree with Jeff that it is important for kids to see what other important adults in their lives are doing. My son homeschools and is around other adults and many kids who are passionate about many things including fitness. I really see a difference between him and some of his friends who are in public school and who don't have parents who value fitness.
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