Last night, the Catalyst Teens group (just a nickname; it's really ages 10-15)gave me a terrific analogy. If you've been following this blog for a long time, you've probably read my comments about Perfectionism being the real enemy of progress. Last night, the Teens, in their final week (every single one signed up again!) of this term, had Filthy Fifty as a workout.
Kid #1: "That looks im-poss-ible!"
Kid #2: "We'd better get started."
I loved it.
Another favourite quote, this time from a parent: "You should stop calling this group 'Catalyst Teens' and start calling it, 'In bed, on time, for sixty bucks.'"
In the teen years, exercise provides an important outlet for the more negative effects of the hormonal soup. It also provides an important social on-ramp, and helps reinforce confidence that may be lagging.
While our North American culture struggles with eating disorders at both ends of the spectrum, the answer is really just achievement-based exercise. Focus on individual challenge, instead of individual appearance.
Another interesting point brought up by the Canadian Sport For Life site: teens learn to cope with the mental and physical challenges of competition. Yes, this is important for athletes. But in our non-confrontational culture, where we no longer insist even on a two-minute oral presentation every YEAR for in elementary school, exposure to challenge is critical. Teenagers are blanketed by anonymity; they're rarely called into account for their one-on-one interactions. In sport – and, I'd argue, in CrossFit – you're only as real as your last WOD. How can we expect adult interaction from youth who aren't practiced in dissertation, discussion, or debate? Give 'em Toastmasters, or give 'em sport.
Quick, now: how focused were you as a teenager? How much can you remember from a given math lesson in the tenth grade? What if that blonde girl in the next row had those jeans on – how much could you remember then?
Allison Cameron, a teacher in Saskatoon, decided to try to help. She put treadmills right in the classroom! Watch the video here. Down the line, our forward-thinking friends at CASS are about to launch a study on the effects of 20-minute exercise breaks in students.
The key is challenge. Teens are no longer awed by the mediocre. They require the extraordinary example: something to Google. Something to watch on YouTube. Someone like, say, Connor Martin, the original CrossFit Kid, overhead squatting 250lbs at age 16. Something to reach up toward; not just their parent's tired standard. Teens need a flag to wave. They need something to post on facebook. They need a car to crash. And they want their buddies with them.
So….what if we had CrossFit on Fridays? And what if it were free, with coaches and everything? And what if we had a whole high school gym to play with? And what if we blogged it? What would we get? 70 kids. Cassathletics.com. Maybe, a new master race. Probably, though, a group of adults who don't face overcrowded hospitals, clogged health care, and a drug cocktail as a solution.
Tomorrow: The Red Herring. Research and dogma on kids and weightlifting.
Right now: a shameless plug (hey, these groups are filling really fast, and we hate saying 'no' to anyone.)
Catalyst Teens: Tuesday at 7pm – FULL
Wednesday at 6pm – 6 spots left
Wednesday at 7pm – 3 spots left
Saturday morning at 10am – 8 spots left