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


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About the Author
Pat Barber

Pat Barber

You might know me from the CrossFit Games, where I’ve competed since 2008, but I have also been the Head of Coaches Development for one of the largest CrossFits in the world. I have the honor of being one of the few L4 coaches, and I still love teaching L1s and L2s for CFHQ (I’ve put about 15,000 coaches through their L1’s). I'm husband to the most wonderful woman in the world, and a father who loves surfing, Magic: The Gathering, knife making and good coffee.

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