Youth ages 12 to 18 are set to take over the Crossfit scene in Cleveland, thanks to a nonprofit recently established by Joe and Amy Griffin of Gryphon Crossfit in downtown Cleveland.
The husband and wife co-owner team said they have wanted to establish a Steve’s Club since they discovered the program through Crossfit.
Steve’s Club is a nonprofit organization offered under the Crossfit umbrella to any Crossfit gym who wants to make a difference in the life of area youth.
According to Joe, Steve was a gentleman who lived in New Jersey. He noted the restlessness of the youth in lower socio-economic neighborhoods he visited. Steve decided to offer free Crossfit to the youth at an established time every week. The exercise provided an outlet for excess energy and kept the young boys and girls out of local gangs.
The same program is now available to Cleveland and Bradley County youth. Joe noted the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s Tucker Unit and George Johnson Teen Unit were only four blocks from the gym. He worked with the local nonprofit to set up two classes each week.
“As it grows, we want to grow with it. I wouldn’t mind having the class every day. That would be fun,” Joe said. “We would love to have it to where we had the younger kids, the 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds, and then the 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds at different times. There are going to be different strengths and weaknesses for those kids.”
Growth requires buy-in from the local community. The Griffins listed three areas they would like to develop: a board for the nonprofit; volunteers for paperwork and extra help; donations to pay coaches for class instruction; and special awards for the young members.
“Right now we are doing it completely free, just to kind of give these kids a start to [Crossfit]. They are really enjoying it,” Amy said. “I have enjoyed watching the kids come in. It is neat. They are looking around and starting to look at the different equipment.”
The students left a mess after the first session. Joe made quick work of sitting them down on their return to the gym. He explained what he expected from them in behavior, attitude and proper equipment care.
The teens have been sure to follow Joe and Amy’s rules since the meeting.
“They were all as polite and nice as can be after that,” Joe said. “They were eager for some attention and these kids need that attention. They need the structure. They really respond well to it.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs members currently come in every Monday and Wednesday. Almost all of the Gryphon Crossfit coaches are Crossfit Kid Coach certified. The certified coaches have a background check once a year to maintain the certification.
Joe explained Crossfit is the same for a 3-year-old as it is for a 90-year-old.
“It is just you scale the movement down to their ability,” he said.
Children and preteens do not handle weights. Instead, the coaches stress body weight workouts. These might include push-ups, squats with a PBC pipe, monkey hangs or jumps.
“You teach them how to eat well. You teach them how to exercise properly with good form and conditioning,” Joe said. “The people who work out with us love working with the kids.”
One workout in particular the young Crossfit proteges thoroughly enjoy involves a deck of cards. The Card Workout of the Day included four movements: kettle bell swings, box jumps, pushups and situps. Anyone who drew a Joker had to do 20 burpees.
Each suit signified a different exercise. The number on the card equaled the amount of each exercise they were expected to do.
“It not only gives them structure, but it gives them a sense of pride,” Amy said. “To teach them how to do a lift where they pick up weight and accomplish something they never dreamed they could do ... hopefully [the sense of pride] will transfer to other areas of their life.”
Participants in Steve’s Club will not be limited to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. For more information on Gryphon Crossfit or the new nonprofit visit Crossfitgryphon.com or call 790-1665.