CrossFit Lawrence sends kids over boulders, up climbing walls

Former Kansas University volleyball player Savannah Noyes leads a kids' stretch Saturday at CrossFit Lawrence, 815 E 12th St.

Jopsephine Vee, 8, works her way up the climbing wall at CrossFit Lawrence.

Kids Recess at CrossFit Lawrence

When: Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., ages 2-10; 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., ages 10 and up

Where: CrossFit Lawrence, 815 E 12th St.

Cost: $2

What they’ll do: A CrossFit instructor leads a variety of warmup exercises that focus on mobility, strength and agility, and later concludes with activities like relay races, scavenger hunts or yoga.

Inside an east Lawrence warehouse on Saturday mornings, recess takes on several forms.

It means gathering around an instructor who’s also a professional volleyball player and mimicking her movements as Haddaway’s “What Is Love” blasts. It’s scaling a wall pocked with grippable boulders, twisting and flexing this way and that. It’s handstands and burpees and belly-crawling under tiny yellow hurdles.

Soon enough, though, it becomes what the participants — and their onlooking parents — make of it at CrossFit Lawrence, 815 E. 12th St., during a weekly morning session intended for children. There, the high-intensity workout program that emphasizes constant movement and a grab bag of techniques introduces itself to a younger crowd.

“We show kids how to move safer than on a playground,” said Thomas Thatcher, owner of CrossFit Lawrence. “It’s structured play.”

As Thatcher speaks, Savannah Noyes leads this week’s contingent of children, many whose parents just wrapped up a morning workout of their own. Noyes, a former Kansas University volleyball player and current pro, begins with warmups that find the children flexing, rolling and stretching on the ground. Noyes soon invites the group of about a dozen children to monkey crawl toward a cavelike structure used for bouldering and rope-climbing. After about 15 minutes, they return to the main floor for a relay race.

Two sessions, one for ages 2 to 10 and another for kids 10 and older, span about a half hour. Thatcher welcomes newcomers and regulars alike to walk in and pay $2 to participate.

Adrienne Anderson has worked out through the gym’s adult program for two years. She said she likes how exercises can be scaled to participants’ ability, adding that she even worked out each day of her pregnancy on up to the day she went into labor with Wyatt, her now 1-year-old son. Anderson’s other children, Porter, 6, and Quinn, 4, have followed suit, becoming regulars at the Saturday sessions.

“Porter loves burpees and the ropes,” Anderson said. “And my 4-year-old just loves following Savannah.”

Both Thatcher and Anderson addressed what they called misconceptions that CrossFit is dangerous or reckless. It can be, Thatcher said, if the coaches are dangerous and reckless. But at the Lawrence gym, Anderson said, instructors watch students of all ages “like a hawk.”

“We want you to come back tomorrow,” she remembers them saying.

Miranda Fowler was still wearing her athletic attire from her morning workout as her daughter Peyton, 9, tried her hand at the rope climb. Peyton, who first participated in a Saturday recess a week before, said the exercises helped her spend more time perfecting techniques she relies on as a cheerleader and gymnast.

“We always thought it was important to keep our kids moving,” Miranda Fowler said.