South Sound gyms bring CrossFit program to kids’ level

Staff writerMarch 3, 2013 

When James Byerly and his wife, Lee Murphy, opened Tumwater’s CrossFit Luminis 18 months ago, they dreamed of one day growing to the point where they could add programs for kids.

“We want to help combat childhood obesity and help pull kids away from the television,” Byerly said. “We want to help kids augment their dance, soccer and other activities by helping them keep fit and strong.”

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the family’s vision becomes a reality when they join a handful of other South Sound CrossFit gyms offering programs for kids as young as preschoolers.

“Kids establish behavior patterns early in life,” said Andy Millard, a Lakewood firefighter who will run Luminis’ youth workouts. “If we help them learn and enjoy exercise and a good diet when they’re young, that’s key to preventing things like heart disease and diabetes.”

If you’re familiar with CrossFit, you might think it’s not the best way for still-growing kids to get in shape. Flipping tractor tires, Olympic weightlifting and one-armed pushups is probably too intense for 10-year-olds. Right?

Well, just as CrossFit does for adult participants of all fitness levels, workouts are scaled to match the athlete. So, don’t expect kids to be asked to try anything crazy. Well, not too crazy at least.

“It will be age-appropriate,” Millard said. “If they use weights, they will be light. Young kids won’t be doing Olympic lifts.”

Activities such as box jumps, burpees, running and sit-ups are fair game.

Beyond matching workouts to the age groups, Millard said he’ll match them to individuals without calling attention to the fact that some kids might not be able to do as much as others.

Most importantly, the two want the workouts to be fun.

“As an adult, CrossFit is my playground and I want the kids to feel that way, too,” Millard said. “We work hard doing these movements and it’s challenging, but it’s fun. There is a sense of community and they will be set up for success.”

Byerly’s son, Seth Lozano, is a 10-year-old who has been participating alongside adults at Luminis.

“He’s very eager to participate so I would create a scaled-down-to-kid-level version of the workouts for him,” Byerly said. “He uses hardly any weight, but he would row and run and do box jumps. And if there was anything silly we could add in there, we would.”

Silly might include trying to keep up with the adults when it came time to doing burpees. Or it might mean drawing a picture on a whiteboard, solving a maze between exercises or building a structure with Legos.

Extra elements like these will be part of the CrossFit Kids workouts.

“When it is fun, they kind of forget they are exercising and they want to come back to class,” Millard said.

Having a task to complete during their workout keeps the kids motivated, Millard said.

“They step up their game when there is a little pressure,” he said. “Plus, they get to work on their problem-solving skills and working well with others.

“Kids have a lot of opportunities to be isolated these days. Doing this, they will interact with actual people,”Millard said.

Luminis plans to have classes twice each week. Classes could be added if the program catches on.

“From my heart, I really want kids to experience what CrossFit has to offer, to be active and strong and be prepared for anything life throws at them,” Byerly said.

Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via and Also get more fitness coverage at and

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