Crossfit program for kids joins Corporate Cup to teach healthy lifestyles

As always, the theme of the Providence Corporate Cup is on companies thinking about corporate wellness. But what about the executives and employees of the future?

This year, there’s something for them, too.

While companies will be participating in the 5K run/walk on Saturday, April 26, in downtown Baton Rouge, their children — and any other children who show up — will be able to take part in the Future CEO Challenge, which will provide activities to keep them physically active.

CrossFit Virtus, of Gonzales, will supervise the Future CEO activities, which will be held simultaneously with the Corporate Cup from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The hope is not just for the kids to break a sweat that morning, but to be encouraged to stay physically active. It’s not the first time the Corporate Cup has had activities for children, but this one is more purposeful, says race chair Whitney Tiemann.

“In the past we’ve had a blow-up obstacle course and some rope climbs, stuff like that,” Tiemann says. “But the whole point is really to get kids living a lifestyle, and that’s what this is really about.”

Rather than try to invent this wheel themselves, Corporate Cup organizers brought in CrossFit, a popular fitness concept since it began in 2003. CrossFit Virtus also has a CrossFit Kids program, which Tiemann says made it a natural to run the Future CEO Challenge.

CrossFit Kids is not just a scaled-down version of the adult program, says Cecil Piazza, owner of CrossFit Virtus. The focus is on teaching movements useful in sports or in preparation for more advanced fitness activities, while making it enjoyable, he says.

“We don’t want exercise to be something where I feel like, ‘I’ve got to go do this,’” he says. “We want it to be fun and exciting, and the benefit or side effect of that is they’re living a healthier lifestyle, and hopefully what will transcend through their young adulthood and into their adulthood. I think that’s what the Corporate Cup’s philosophy is, as well. At a younger age, how do I have fun exercising? Hopefully, that sticks with them into their adulthood.”

A typical CrossFit Kids session includes warm-up and cool-down activities on either end of a series of exercises and games designed to keep kids moving and engaged.

On a recent afternoon, that included a team game called Farmers and Lumberjacks. Several small traffic cones were set out on a large mat. The Lumberjacks’ goal was to knock them all down. The Farmers’ mission was to keep them all upright. If either team managed to make that happen, it won the game. The result was a frenzy of running, stopping and starting in a new direction.

“CrossFit Kids is really focused on functional movements,” says CrossFit Virtus’ Sara Piazza. “For some kids, this is their sport, what they do. For other kids, they play other sports and this kind of keeps them in shape for that or makes them stronger so they’re better at that sport.

“It’s very basic stuff. We don’t have a lot of equipment. We do a lot of body weight — pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups — just very basic exercise. We try to make it fun for them. We make games out of it, that kind of stuff, teach them new skills.”

The best male and female ages 6-12 will be named Future CEO Challenge winners. To register, go online to providencecorporatecup.com.

“We’ll be prepared to keep them busy as long as they want to be busy,” Sara Piazza says.