CrossFit Kids program grows in Seymour


Before the workout commences in the warehouse-turned-gymnasium on Second Street, 16 kids gather in a circle around CrossFit Seymour coach RaeAnn Mellencamp.

Across from the monkey bars and hanging ropes, Mellencamp commands the kids’ attention, talking about something that she hopes will transcend to the kids past athletics: The importance of hard work and respect.

Combining fitness, character-building and nutrition, Mellencamp’s CrossFit Kids class has continued to grow.

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She has gone from having a small group of kids to having nearly 18 attend the one-hour sessions on average this summer — almost tripling in size.

One parent at Wednesday’s session said she had seen almost 40 kids at one session.

Mellencamp said an article that ran in The Tribune in 2017 on the kids class circulated nationally among the CrossFit community among social media platforms. She was then invited to go to a seminar in Chicago where she was recertified for free for CrossFit Kids.

As the word grew in and out of the community, kids and parents saw the class as a great opportunity to grow.

“I think, No. 1, it helps them socially. It gets them to work as a team,” Mellencamp said. “It gives them a ton of confidence. That’s my mission: To help them gain confidence and make them stronger, happier, healthier kids when they walk out of our door.

“Parents come in and tell me how they love that we’re keeping their kids active. They’re not at home playing video games or doing other things that keep them in one place.”

The kids focus on technique while exercising in a fun setting.

“We scale it way back not only for their age but how they learn. Everything is games,” Mellencamp said. “We’re constantly switching from one game to the next but incorporating all those exercises. They then go home and talk to their parents about all of their exercises and what they did, and their parents know exactly what they’re talking about. They kind of gain a common ground of good health.”

Incoming Emerson Elementary School fifth-grader Charlie Bruce said he likes the variety of games they play in a session.

“I like the games and the workouts,” he said. “I probably like lifting the weights the best. I’m getting stronger and faster.”

Bruce said he plays baseball, football and soccer and that CrossFit helps him get better for those sports.

Brody Stuckwisch, an upcoming fourth-grader at Lutheran Central School who plays baseball, football and soccer, said he has been going to the classes for about three or four weeks.

“It’s like my teacher said, ‘When you work hard, you get to play hard,’” Stuckwisch said. “When you do hard stuff, you get fun rewards.”

Mellencamp said the Crossfit Kids sessions won’t end at the conclusion of the summer. The gym plans on expanding by opening another section of the building.

Sessions are from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. If their parents are CrossFit Seymour members, it’s free. For nonmembers, the cost is $6 per session.

“We have a lot of athletes, but our goal is to get the nonathletes,” Mellencamp said. “Not every kid is in an organized sport or want to be or can financially afford it. This becomes their sport. It’s never dependent on fitness level. That’s what we are here to do. We are here to gain fitness.”

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