We started our CrossFit Kids and Teens Program with a goal to teach our students to love Fitness and to love working out. We want them to view coming to the gym as a fun thing to do, that whenever they are here, they are with their buddies challenging each other whilst playing some games. However, one mental or psychological aspect of Fitness that we strive to develop, not just in the gym but also in life is determination and perseverance. In CrossFit there are 10 general physical skills that one should possess and to be proficient in all of them to be deemed as fit. However, in order to achieve that, one would require the 11th skill, mental toughness.
Coming into March, the year is starting to rev up. This also means school work, competitions and stresses from various sources are also picking up. We see our young ones experiencing more and more workload over a shorter span of time. Mental toughness and resilience isn’t just applicable within the 4 walls of them gym. It is useful in everyday life, in almost every situation. What we see for adults and kids is that if they are able to push and drive themselves during their time in the box, it will be much easier for them to do so in future endeavours.
Being able to accept failure, accept hardships at times and to see this as an opportunity for growth is extremely important for one to be successful. At CrossFit Kids and Teens, we want that for all our students. Through an environment whereby everyone is driven, we inculcate that tenacity to overcome difficulties and to “Push their limits”. Often, many are worried that our young ones may push themselves too much and go overboard. However, that is rarely the case, more often than not, young ones will dial it down the moment they experience any sort of discomfort or difficulties.
So how do we inculcate this idea of “Pushing your limits”? We do so via a couple of methods. First of which is through healthy competition. We see our teens push harder every single time just to beat their peers. They may be driven by several means, be it to earn bragging rights, to win the highly coveted power ups or maybe to spur their fellow students on and be an example for the rest to follow. Some kids and teens may be all about the fun and games but the moment the challenge atmosphere sets in, they all set out to chase each other down till the very last second. Although this may seem like an extrinsic form of motivation, it is still an opportunity for our kids and teens to accept moments of discomfort for greater victories.
Another way we do so is to set targets and aims for them to chase after. Prior to every challenge, our coaches will always ask the students, “What is your aim for the challenge?” Although it is a good chance for students to gauge their own abilities, often the students might need some guidance as to what is a reasonable target. It is important to set a target which is manageable but not impossible to achieve. We don’t want to set too high a target such that they will never be able to achieve it and as a result feel disappointed every single time they step into the box. On the flip side, we avoid setting too low a target such that they don’t “Push their limits” enough. We encourage our students to achieve their targets, not for the power ups but to prove to themselves that they are able to do great things and be overcomers in their everyday life. That way, we inspire them to be their own superheroes. (Bragging rights follow soon after)
Lastly, we encourage our students to learn a bit more about perseverance by preparing them for what is to come. Having a prep talk with them prior to a challenge or any difficult times helps them. Very often, as parents, teachers and adults, we know full well the hardships and difficulties a situation would be for them. We know full well, the stresses that the PSLE or O levels will fall upon our students. We have experienced the toughness and “pain” of going through a really hard work out. We know these facts and often, we expect our young ones to think of it in the same way and to prepare themselves mentally for it. It is often, the opposite, we need to prepare them by blatantly and factually telling them that it will be hard,
there will be moments you will want to give up and there will be occasions where you will need to bite your teeth and have some grit to get through it.
We recently had a game for the kids called, “Floppy Fiesta”, AKA “Death By Burpees”. A classic CrossFit workout painted in a game format for the kids. Prior to the commencement of the game, we all sat down and spoke about how we would feel during this game. We discussed that past the 8th round, it will begin to be tremendously tiring and difficult to continue. However, instead of giving in, we
wanted all the students to really push their limits to achieve the greatest results that they can get. Knowing this, all the students began the challenge with the mentality of perseverance and making it to the end.
The outcome? Our highest scoring student reached the round of 14 which was better than most adults who attempted the workout that day. By preparing them for what is to come, our students can understand and anticipate how they would and should feel.
Our mind is a very strong aspect of fitness and success in life. Regardless of intellect and background, having a strong mind, a resilient mind, is crucial for success in all our Kids and Teens. Forging that in the box prepares them for the challenges that await them in the near future.