WXTX SPECIAL REPORT: Is CrossFit safe for kids? - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

WXTX SPECIAL REPORT: Is CrossFit safe for kids?

(WXTX) -

Intense, strenuous workouts are no longer an "adults-only" activity.

Now, children as young as 4 are putting the sweat equity needed to lose weight or get fit.

Local parents are enrolling their children in a sometimes controversial workout that has even some adults shaking in their boots.

In this special report, Fox 54's Brittany Dionne steps into the box for your not-so-average P.E. class for kids.

A workout craze is sweeping the nation, and when you hear the word CrossFit, this is probably what you think about.

But when we took our cameras inside CrossFit Inception in Columbus, this is what we found.

"Get these kids away from their TV's and Xbox's and get them in the gym," said co-owner and trainer Christopher Kowalewski. "You saw these kids and their movements especially their functional movements it's incredible. It really is."

Children as young as four are blasting out Burpees and torching "toes to bar" like pros.

First there's a warm up, careful instruction of moves, and then down to business. They call it forging the future of fitness.

Brother and sister Jacob, 9, and Rylie Dyal, 7, say they wear title "CrossFit kids" proudly.

"It's really fun and it teaches people how to get stronger," said Jacob.

"Because I like working out," said Rylie.

With childhood obesity reaching epic proportions, some parents are incorporating structured, more intense workouts into their little one's lives.

"My eight year-old actually got a barbell for her birthday," said Greg Kuebrich.

Greg Kuebrich says CrossFit has changed his family's lives and claims it is doing wonders for his daughters in their extracurricular activities.

"They're both cheerleaders and just their endurance and their strength has improved," Greg said.

It's just like the exercises the adults do with just a little bit of modification and a lot less weight.

"What we do here is teach functional movements, pushing, pulling, and running, jumping and throwing," said Kowalewski.

But nothing goes without controversy.  Once the word got out that children were in what CrossFitters call "the box," some questioned if the workout is suitable for children.

We spoke with Midtown Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Joseph Zanga to see if more intense workouts are suitable for young children.

"Exercise, normal exercise can help the children develop their muscles and bones," Dr. Zanga explained.

Dr. Zanga explains before puberty, the bones are not fully developed, which could cause problems for prepubescent children.

"What I draw the line at is in children who haven't reached puberty doing weight lifting kinds of exercises," said Dr. Zanga.

Encouraging your child play outside is enough to control their weight, according to Dr. Zanga. He says structured and unstructured workouts both have their benefits.

"Routine exercises the kind you do in gym class, pull-ups, pushups, as long as you don't stress them," said Dr. Zanga. "As long as you make it a game rather than a chore."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

"For most children and adults it's too much in and not enough out," said Dr. Zanga.

One of the top tips for fighting obesity is watching portions. The sizes of the foods we eat have ballooned over the years.

About 20 years ago a cheeseburger would have been a little over 330 calories; today they're nearly 600 calories. A Coke 20 years ago was about 6 and a half ounces and about 80 calories; now, the ounces have more than doubled and calories tripled.

"We've become such a heavy society that overweight has become normal," said Dr. Zanga.

Here are some ways to estimate portion sizes:

A cup of veggies and piece of fruit should be about the size of a baseball. A portion of meat is a deck of cards, and a portion of peanut butter is no larger than a golf ball.

CrossFit says they're trying to level the playing field on America's fight against obesity one box jump at a time.

"They just become fitter, healthier, young people. They just develop a love for fitness. That's what we're trying to create," said Kowalewski.

While talking to Rylie, it seems that goal just may be accomplished.

"You can be stronger and healthier and you'll live a long time," Rylie said.

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