CrossFit – FREE – for kids who really need it

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Crossfit Lifestyle
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When I was a kid, swimming was my salvation.

Between  the first and second grade we moved from a small town in northwest Wisconsin to a well-to-do city in southwest Michigan. I was clueless. My idea of a country club was the Elks Club, where I had learned to swim.

In Michigan, I was surrounded by kids whose families belonged to real country clubs. Instead of the vending machines we had at the Elks Club, these country clubs had a real snack bars that served real french fries, which kids ordered and then charge to their family’s account. In my little mind they were getting french fries for free. Life wasn’t (43)

Those kids made fun of us when they came to our decrepit pool at the Elks’ Club for a swim meet. They didn’t bring any dimes for our vending machines and couldn’t believe we had starting blocks made by someone’s dad. I inflicted my revenge by kicking their rich little asses.

I was fast.

Things only got worse in high school, where the rich kids wore monogrammed sweaters and went on family ski vacations. We stayed home and went to the community pool, which averaged about 70-degrees in the winter.

We were very good swimmers and by the time my brother graduated from high school, he was the faster high school swimmer in the United States. Every college in the country wanted him.

Swimming was the great leveler: it didn’t matter how much money your family had. If you were fast, you were popular. People wanted you on their team. Take off that monogrammed sweater and put on a Speedo and the only thing that mattered was how fast you could get from one end of the pool to the other.

I couldn’t keep up with them when it came to pedigree, but I could in the water. And that gave me self-esteem and confidence in myself.

What does any of this have to do with CrossFit?

I help coach a program called Steve’s Club: CrossFit for at risk youth. It’s free for the kids. Our local club, Steve’s Club of the Palm Beaches, coaches kids – mostly girls – from foster homes. They have had hard, heartbreaking lives.

The girls we work with are between the ages of 8-17, difficult years for any girl. I remember how difficult those years were for me and how sports made me feel better about myself. I see the same thing in these girls. CrossFit, with its vastly varied exercises, means there is an exercise that every girl will do well. Some can skip rope at blinding speeds. Others can climb ropes.

Dana and Todd Lynch, owners of CrossFit BGI in West Palm Beach, who have graciously opened their doors to Steve's Club of the Palm Beaches

Dana and Todd Lynch, owners of CrossFit BGI in West Palm Beach, who have graciously opened their doors to Steve’s Club of the Palm Beaches

Some are close to getting their first unassisted pull-up. Some have perfect rhythm when they row. They work hard but they also learn to do the kinds of physical activities that little girls should do: hop-scotch; Hoover ball (volley ball with a wall ball) skipping and relay races. We have done beach WODs with the girls and Easter egg hunts.

Some have lost weight and are learning how to eat healthy. They get praise and attention from grown women who genuinely want to be with them. Unbeknownst to them, they also get the endorphin rush and healthy fatigue that comes not from anxiety and fear but good old fashioned exercise.

For all the talk about how expensive and elitest CrossFit is, you have the Steve’s Club kids who are getting CrossFit for free. They are learning that all you need for a good workout is a jump rope, a bar to hang on or a bench to step on. If you asked, these kids could give you a killer workout without any fancy machines or air-conditioning.

What swimming was for me, CrossFit is for these kids. They may never compete but they have learned that sports makes them feel good – about themselves and their bodies. They are as good – even better – than kids with so much more. For a few hours a week they know that their coaches care about their progress and want them to improve.

I want people to know that CrossFit is so much more than a bunch of driven, over-achievers who talk incessantly about CrossFit, bacon and protein supplements. We want to give back. We don’t want to just feel better about ourselves, we want you to feel better about yourself.

If you also want this for kids, please make a donation, get involved or start a Steve’s Club in your area. Give a dose of self-esteem to a kid jumping to reach a pull-up bar by giving her a boost and assist while she does a pullup. I guarantee her first pull-up will make you feel as good about yourself as your own first pull-up.

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