As fitness crazes go, the workout program CrossFit has some of the most dedicated disciples.
The wildly popular self-directed program, which puts a focus on core strength training and conditioning, has built a robust online community, where its participants set goals, share routine variations and track their progress. They've even developed their own language: the WOD is the workout of the day, AMRAP is "as many reps as possible" and a C&J is what's better known to weightlifters as a "clean and jerk."
It's safe to say that for many of its followers, CrossFit is a philosophy, as well as a workout regimen.
Chiropractor Patrick Landry, 48, discovered CrossFit while training for a marathon several years ago. He didn't feel like he was getting what he needed from his running and his judo practice and decided to give it a try. He was so pleased with the results that he opened his own CrossFit gym.
"I know there are a lot of skeptics of CrossFit, and some people call it a cult," Landry said. "But it creates an emotional anchor for people, emotionally, spiritually and physically. People who have never exercised a day in their lives are learning to control their bodies, to move better and have better flexibility, better coordination and stamina."
In the fall of 2012, Landry took what he thought was the next logical step: starting a kids' program. He has four children of his own and wanted to give them options besides team sports. He now has about 30 children who participate regularly and semi-regularly in the program.
Barry Novotny and his daughter Ainsley, 12, are part of a CrossFit family that goes to Landry's gym. She uses the training as a supplement, to help her build endurance for cross-country running and the other sports she plays.
"I think the majority of her soccer team does CrossFit as an extracurricular activity," Barry Novotny said. "We try to go as a family as many nights a week as we can. There's a real community aspect to it, which makes it more fun for the kids."
The gym is one of the 1,800 CrossFit facilities that teaches the CrossFit Kids program. According to the program's website, the aim is to "provide an active alternative to sedentary pursuits, which means less childhood obesity and all-around better health for our children."
The CrossFit Kids program is structured so that it builds mechanics first, then consistency, then adds intensity, which Sara Colley said was a good way to prevent kids from performing exercises before they're prepared. Colley, a physical therapist, added that a big concern with growing children are growth plate injuries, which can result when children try to do exercises they're not ready for.
Landry said he has a good rapport with the kids in his program, which he agrees is crucial to their participation.
"If I don't know how to connect to kids, they won't respond," he said. "I want it to be fun for them, for them to want to be here."
There are 13 registered CrossFit Kids programs in Minnesota. Find one at https://kids.crossfit.com.