Why You Should Start a Kids or Teens Program

Pat Barber Gym Management, Kids/Teens Programs

Benefits of a Kids Program at Affiliate | Warmup & Workout

Starting a kids or teens program isn’t for everyone. But if you’ve never considered it, or you’re on the fence, this article might help you determine whether either program would impact your gym’s membership or culture.

How the programs benefit: Gyms

An Additional Revenue Stream

Adding a kids or teens program to your gym’s calendar is one more way to serve your membership, and we’ve learned that the two programs are pretty easy to sell if your gym has a lot of parents. Pricing for a Kids/Teens program can vary due to any number of factors, but should not be as much as a typical adult membership. A great starting place is around 60% of an adult membership, and family/sibling discounts are strongly recommended. Membership prices should be adjusted depending on how many classes are offered each week, the pricing of other kids programs in your area, the opportunity for homework/tutoring following class, and length of classes.

Better Client Retention

If your gym can become an integral part of any family’s daily routine, you will help that family create habits that will lead to a lifetime of health and fitness. This is huge! Which is why getting an entire family to invest their time, effort, and finances into your gym almost guarantees increased client retention and decreased turnover.

A Differentiator

When people are searching for a new gym or box, they often start with what is most convenient — the gyms closest to home or the office. Parents look for gyms with childcare, choosing to skip your gym entirely if you don’t have it. One way to set yourself apart from the other gyms — that are convenient to drive to and include childcare — is to offer a kids or teens program. This way, you’re not just offering a room where their kids can sit or play. Instead, you’re giving parents the opportunity to get a workout in while their kids get their fitness on too. And that will make you the clear winner of your area.

Kids and Teens GPP Programming | Warmup & Workout

How the programs benefit: Kids and Teens

Academic Success

Kids and teens are not getting as much physical activity at school as they used to, which can contribute to trouble focusing on academics and poor retention of that schoolwork. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that following rigorous exercise, focus, understanding and retention of academic subjects increase. This is why it is strongly recommended that immediately after kids or teens class is done, they do some homework for 20-30 minutes.

Avoidance of Specialization

Kids and teens can become so specialized in a certain sport, at such an early age, that some general fitness becomes necessary for building overall athleticism and improving injury prevention. Kids and teens who are not interested in traditional sports can also become too specialized in one domain by choosing to only run, bike, etc. And if they don’t play sports, they face an additional problem: inactivity. Attending just 3 classes a week can have a huge impact on a kid’s or teen’s fitness and athleticism, whether they play sports or not.

Physical Skills

Squats, sit-ups, jump rope, pushups, deadlifts, pull-ups. Imagine how skills like these can change a life. Families have told us about their kid crossing the monkey bars for the first time, and their teen crushing it at the mountain climbing gym because of their increase in strength. The impact you can have on a kid or teen (and their family) is crazy awesome.

Confidence and Resilience

These programs help develop assertiveness, a positive attitude toward challenges, self-confidence, resilience, responsibility and teamwork. Classes also give kids and teens a sense of accomplishment in an environment of community and accountability.

Why You Should Start a Kids or Teens Program at Your Affiliate | Warmup & Workout

How the programs benefit: Parents

Less Stressful Nightly Routines

The average parent’s nightly routine is centered around preparing dinner, getting their kids to do their homework, and then enjoying a little relaxation. The stressful nights are the ones when you cannot get your kid or teen to focus on their schoolwork. What should take 30 minutes turns into nearly 2 hours of nagging and frustration. We have witnessed first-hand how encouraging kids and teens to do homework or to study immediately after a fitness session can have a profound impact on a family’s nightly routine.

If you think it’s impossible to get kids on board with this, look at it this way: Post-workout study sessions are more efficient (kids work faster) and more effective (there is a boost in retention). What they get in return is more free time when they get home. Which is really what they care about.

If you want to be even more helpful to parents, and give them some major wins, run the kids or teens class simultaneously to the adult class so that the extra time the kids and teens have at the end can be used for school work. Even if the students are not finished with their studies when their parents’ workout is over, they can always finish at home, or their parents can do some mobilizing or stretching while they wait, which is a lot better than wasting time fighting with their kid at home.

A Shared Activity

Talking deadlifts over dinner with my kid? Yes, please.

Every CrossFitter or fitness-loving parent wants to show their children that fitness is fun — it doesn’t have to be a chore. And that’s the goal of every kids or teens program. An added bonus is that families get to share a new activity, and, as coaches, we love to hear families compare times and scores.
 


Links and Resources

How to Start a Kids or Teens Program
5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Kids or Teens Program
Our Kids/Teens Program

How to Start a Kids or Teens Program at Your Gym

Pat Barber Gym Management, Kids/Teens Programs

Kids and Teens Classes | GPP Programming

This post is sort of a mashup of “how to start a kids or teens program” and “things you should know before you launch a kids or teens program.” I’ve already discussed the benefits of these two programs in another post, so I won’t spend time on that now. Instead, I want to give you a checklist of things you should do or consider before you put kids or teens classes on your gym’s calendar.

Certifications

The certifications I am going to discuss are for CrossFit gyms only. This is because I’ve never worked in a gym outside of CrossFit, so I don’t have the experience to speak about what other gyms should do. But if you’re a CrossFit affiliate, read on.

As a CrossFit affiliate, you need to join the CrossFit Kids Registered Programs (discussed below) or, at the very least, hire L1+ coaches who have taken the CrossFit Kids Trainer Course.

CrossFit Kids Registered Programs are CrossFit affiliates recognized for their completion of both the Level 1 Course and the CrossFit Kids Trainer Course. To join the CrossFit Kids Registered Program, trainers are required to pass and maintain an annual background check, take and pass the CrossFit Kids Course, and your affiliate must enroll in additional insurance. You can learn more here.

Insurance

Give your insurance provider a call and ask if children are covered in your policy. Sometimes they are, and sometimes you have to upgrade your plan.

Legal Waivers

Make sure parents sign a legal waiver on their child’s behalf BEFORE they take their first class. For teens, have both the teen and the parents sign the waiver. In other words, cover your a$$.

Equipment

Sessions can be run without any additional equipment, but in order to offer the best classes possible, we suggest you get the following:

  • Foam Plyoboxes (6,” 12,” 24″)
  • Gymnastics Mats
  • Kettlebells (9lb, 18lb)
  • Medicine Balls (4lb, 6lb, “hooverball” size)
  • Dodgeballs (sting-proof)
  • Agility ladders
  • Jump ropes (child size)
  • Agility Cones
  • Hula Hoops
Pricing

Pricing for a Kids/Teens program can vary due to any number of factors, but should not be as much as a typical adult membership. A great starting place is around 60% of an adult membership, and family/sibling discounts are strongly recommended. Membership prices should be adjusted depending on how many classes are offered each week, the pricing of other kids programs in your area, opportunity for homework/tutoring following class, and length of classes.

When you’re first kickstarting the program, or running a pilot program to see if your members truly want this type of offering, it’s also a good idea to significantly discount the membership or offer it for free. Usually a free week is enough to sell parents on the program; in fact, we’ve continually experienced a 90% retention rate with kids who come to the whole free week. Some gyms do offer the first month for free, but we recommend against this. It can devalue the program and contribute to its failure. For one, gyms have to wait significantly longer to see any revenue. Secondly, with a free week (versus a free month), we’ve also found that parents are more committed to bringing their kids to class, as there is more urgency to take advantage of the free classes and really see if the program is a good fit for their family.

Coaching

From a coaching standpoint, the goals and priorities of adult classes are very different than kids/teens classes. In adult classes, the focus is usually centered around intensity and making sure each client gets an appropriately difficult workout. But when you’re coaching kids or teens, intensity needs to be one of your last concerns; instead, you should prioritize safety and quality movement above speed or load.

The goal is to teach kids and teens that fitness is fun because if they see it as a chore or something that’s too hard or competitive, they will quit. Which is why you need to establish a culture that praises good, safe movement over more weight or reps.
 


Links and Resources
Why You Should Start a Kids or Teens Program at Your Gym
5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Kids or Teens Program
A Look at Our Kids/Teens Program

5 Things to Avoid with Your Kids and Teens Program

Pat Barber Gym Management, Kids/Teens Programs

Kids and Teens Programming
With kids and teens, you have the opportunity to shape their entire idea of fitness. You can show them that fitness is fun — it doesn’t have to be a chore. By avoiding some of the most common mistakes gyms make, you can keep kids and teens happy and make the most of each class.

Have a Lesson Plan

Having a lesson plan for each and every class is essential to running a successful kids or teens program. If you show up to a room full of kids and try to “wing it” with a brief outline, it will be much harder to make the class valuable and to keep the kids having fun. With kids and teens, there is a tight margin for error — and things can spiral out of control quickly. Each class needs a clear structure and must flow smoothly and efficiently, with as little transition time as possible. That can only happen when you use a well-thought-out plan.

Keep Classes Shorter

If a class is too long, kids will get bored and burn out. We want kids to be excited every single day for class, and this means we need to leave them wanting more. For kids (ages 7-12), 30 minutes is usually the right amount of time, and that can extend out to 45 minutes for a teen class (ages 12-18).

Always Include the Game

The game is how we create a link between fun and fitness so that kids see the gym as a place they want to be. ALWAYS play a game to end a kids class. Games don’t have to be elaborate, just fun and challenging! Some great examples are dodgeball, waiter tag, sprinting tic-tac-toe, musical med-ball chairs, and spinning angry birds. Games are also a great opportunity for the kids to learn good sportsmanship and build camaraderie within the members of the class.

Kids Programming for Affiliates | Warmup & Workout

Keep It Fun

Making sure kids are having fun while getting some exercise is our top priority. We want kids to increase their fitness, learn better movement patterns, and reach their greatest potential, but if we make that process an unenjoyable one, none of the kids will stick with it long enough to see those results. For kids classes, weights should be light to none (definitely no prescribed weights) and never pushed on them. Competition should not be highlighted. Workouts are almost always run as an AMRAP and aren’t recorded so that all kids begin and finish together and can focus on their form rather than finishing before other kids. For teens, there still aren’t any prescribed weights (as the emphasis should be on proper technique) but we do track their workouts and weights to see progress.

Make Time for Study-Time

Immediately after rigorous exercise, kids are primed, focused, and ready to learn. That is the optimal time for them to work on some homework, especially in subjects they are struggling with. Have kids and teens bring some schoolwork with them to class so they can capitalize on this great opportunity to get their work done. We have witnessed first-hand how encouraging kids and teens to do their homework, or to study, immediately after a session can have a profound impact on a family’s nightly routine and the child’s academic success!

Kids and Teens Program | GPP Programming

A few more guidelines for kids and teens classes

In adult classes, the coaching focus is usually centered around intensity and making sure each client gets an appropriately difficult workout. But when you’re coaching kids/teens, intensity needs to be one of the last things that is dealt with, instead prioritizing safety and quality movement above speed or load. You, as the coach, need to establish a culture in which better and safer movement is highlighted and praised, and more weight or more reps is not glorified.

Some other strongly recommended guidelines:

  • Have all necessary equipment set out before class begins.
  • Anytime there is hanging or climbing, ensure the proper matting is underneath the athlete. No steps or boxes under the athlete at any time.
  • Spacing between athletes should be adequate, usually double what adults would need.
  • If weight is on the bar, clips are on the bar.
  • Individual weight choices for athletes are fully dependent on the coach – which is why there are no recommended weights for the workouts.
  • When teaching components, organize the athletes into a circle or semi-circle so that athletes can see each other for visual affirmation.
  • When coaching the athletes, try to position yourself in a way that you can maintain all athletes in view at all times, thus minimizing having your back turned to any athletes.
  • Utilize the last minute of class to quickly discuss/review the movements of that class and basic nutrition topics (such as: What is a an example of a vegetable?).

Links and Resources
How to Start a Kids or Teens Program
Why You Should Start a Kids or Teens Program at Your Gym
A Look at Our Kids/Teens Program

CrossFitters In Cars, Episode 3

Pat Barber Coaching, Competitions, CrossFitters in Cars, GPP, Gym Management

I recently kidnapped Mike Cazayoux and drove him around Santa Cruz to pick his brain on mindset and coaching tactics. As you probably already know, Mike is the CEO and Director of Strength and Conditioning for Brute Strength. Yes, his apartment is made of rich mahogany. And yes, he is kind of a big deal.

Here’s what we discussed —

Question #1 (7:45)
How do you deal with athletes who constantly beat themselves up?

Question #2 (20:28)
How do you prevent burnout?

Question #3 (29:33)
When encouraging intensity, why would you push someone to do a big set only to fight fatigue through the finish?

Question #4 (36:09)
What are some tactics for getting more clients into the gym?

Question #5 (48:28)
What are the most important qualities to have if you want to be a programmer or coach?


LINKS
Mike’s Instagram
Brute Strength
Mike’s podcast episode with Justin Suá (the Mental Skills Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox)

And remember — to keep the show going, we need new questions! Yes, from YOU. So bring it!

Girls Gone Wod Podcast, Ep. 151

Pat Barber Competitions, Culture, GPP, Gym Management, Podcast Interviews

Pat and Taz Barber on Girls Gone WoD Podcast | Warmup & Workout

Taz and I talked with Joy and Claire from the “girls gone wod” podcast about programming, marriage hacks and the mistake of prioritizing competitors over your other members. We get real on some big issues like programming too much in the hour, and how to walk that fine line between giving-in to what members want or saying ‘no’ because you have their best interest at heart. This is one of the hardest things for gym owners — deciding whether to cater your methodologies to what people want (like more cardio, or a daily strength and metcon program) or going with what’s really best for members, even if they don’t like it. In this podcast episode, we lay it all out there so you can hear exactly what kind of challenges we’ve had and how we’ve dealt with these issues.

Here’s a link to the episode.

Just Say Hi

Pat Barber Coaching

A quick, easy coaching tip that could make a huge difference in a client’s experience at your gym.

CrossFitters In Cars, Episode 2

Pat Barber Coaching, CrossFitters in Cars, Gym Management

I recently flew down to Texas and spent 3 days at a CrossFit L-1 Seminar with a bunch of crazy awesome fools. Then I jumped in the car with Matt Chan, Abi Grove and Matt Lodin to drive Nadia Shatila to the airport. They were kind enough, even after a tiring few days of work and travel, to answer a few questions about coaching and life.

But before I jump into what we discussed, here’s a little background on our carpool —

Matt Chan is a Level 4 Coach who originally took up CrossFit to help improve his endurance as a Denver area firefighter. After four Top 10 finishes at the CrossFit Games (including the runner-up slot in 2012), Chan became a full-time athlete and one of the most popular and knowledgeable veterans in the sport. The man is a beast — he was back squatting 445lbs just five months after a terrible mountain biking accident that could have cost him his leg.

Abi Grove/Dickerson is a powerlifter who trains at Louie Simmons’ Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio, a no-nonsense gym where elite powerlifters train to break world records. Her all-time squat PR is 450… she is amazing!

Matt Lodin is a Level 3 Coach at CrossFit 760 in San Diego. He played collegiate lacrosse at UCSD and got involved with CrossFit right out of school. He also consistently places top 20 at Regionals.

Nadia Shatila is a Level 4 coach and the owner of CrossFit Belltown in Seattle. She’s an ex-gymnastics competitor (on the national level), Top 5 CrossFit Games finisher and one of the most organized and detail-oriented people I know.

BEFORE YOU PRESS PLAY: There is a lot of explicit language in this one. Probably not safe for work. There, I said it — you’ve been warned. :)

Here are the questions we discuss (thanks to all who contributed!):

Question #1 (00:32)
How do you deal with negative clients and owners who create a toxic environment?

Question #2 (5:06)
What is your opinion on programming a strength session before every metcon?

* We don’t go in-depth here. That said, listen to Abi. She knows what she’s talking about. If you want to hear more about this subject, listen to this interview where I talk with CrossFit by Design about Abi’s answer and why Taz and I don’t program a strength + metcon every day.

Question #3 (05:53)
How do you balance life, business and training?

Question #4 (10:18)
How do you stay motivated when every day feels like Groundhog’s Day?

Question #5 (18:18)
When it comes to retaining clients, what’s the most important thing you should do?


And that’s all folks! Thanks for giving the episode a listen. As always, if I share anything that doesn’t work for you, please take what you can use and throw the rest away.

LINKS AND RESOURCES
Matt Chan’s Instagram and competitor programming: Train for the Win
Abi’s Instagram and CrossFit’s “Meet Abi Grove” video
Nadia’s Instagram

And remember — to keep the show going, we need new questions! Yes, from YOU. So bring it!

CrossFitters In Cars, Episode 1.5

Pat Barber Coaching Development, CrossFitters in Cars, Gym Management

Pat and Wes are back for Episode 1.5 of CrossFitters In Cars. This episode is short and sweet, with two questions from the WUWO community.

Question #1 (00:08)
“If you have a coach that always goes over the time for an hour-long class, how do you resolve it?”
We discuss over-coaching, the importance of determining why a coach goes over, and how to manage a class when you go over.

Question #2 (03:56)
“What is the best way to find quality coaches when you don’t have anyone from within your box to recruit?”
We discuss what to do when you can’t offer a big paycheck and benefits, how you can leverage a great gym culture, and why the “car test” might make you rethink your picks.


And that’s all folks! Thanks for giving the episode a listen. As always, if I share anything that doesn’t work for you, please take what you can use and throw the rest away.

Thanks so much for watching! And remember — to keep the show going, we need new questions! Yes, from YOU. So bring it!

LINKS AND RESOURCES
Wes Piatt
Whole Brain Child book
CrossFitters In Cars, Episode 1