Do you have a teenager looking to get off the bench and onto the court? Maybe he’s trying to get strong enough to go for quarterback this year. Or maybe she hasn’t found her sport yet. Maybe you just want to pry your child away from the screen and get him or her moving.

Ideal Collaborative/CutThroat CrossFit has a host of ways to do it, offering three year-round youth athletic programs in Lafayette, Colorado: Youth Barbell Club, CrossFit Kids and a youth Athletic Performance program. 

Each is designed to increase your child’s fitness and athleticism, and all programs are led by a team of professional trainers.

We’re training kids to get better on the field or on the ice or wherever,” said Ideal Collaborative founder Brian Bender.

Youth Athletic Programs: Fitter for the Field

Why supplement traditional school and sport-specific training with one of these youth athletic programs?

Though sport-specific training programs might improve your child’s technique with a hockey stick, it often does little for general fitness.

“They’re having kids do agility ladders till the cows come home, but it’s not really translating to footwork on the field; they’re only getting better at the agility ladder,” Bender said. “We’re actually teaching them how to move their body through space safely and efficiently.”

The program is designed to train all muscle groups and energy systems, improving total fitness and athleticism. Instead of doing endless sit-ups, push-ups and time trials, kids in the youth Athletic Performance program at Ideal Collaborative might do five back squats followed by three broad jumps. Or, maybe they drag a heavy sled for 20 yards, ditch the sled and sprint all out for 40 yards.

“So you’re turning strength into speed … and what it ends up doing is making them a lot faster and stronger on the field,” Bender said. 

Injury prevention is also a huge component of the youth athletic program, which emphasizes flexibility and recovery as much as strength and conditioning. For example, while athletes rest between sets of squats, they might perform rotator-cuff accessory movements to keep the shoulders in a good position. 

“This has been huge with our baseball players, our softball players and football players,” Bender said. “We’re building injury prevention into the hour rather than (the athletes) sitting around and twiddling their thumbs.”

Finding Their Tribe

But the youth athletic programs at Ideal Collaborative aren’t just for conventional student athletes. If your teen hasn’t found a home in traditional team sports, they just might thrive in Youth Barbell Club

Such was the case for high-school student Delanie.

She wanted to play volleyball in high school but was cut from the team the first day of her freshman year, and she was devastated,” said Dana Sorensen, Delanie’s mother. “Now she competes in weightlifting competitions, and the football players at school encourage her.”

This program trains youths in the basics of Olympic weightlifting and is led by nationally ranked weightlifting coaches. The athletes compete locally and nationally, but the benefits of the program transcend awards and accolades. 

I have seen (Delanie’s) confidence return with things like auditions and advocating for herself with her teachers,” Sorensen said.

Fit at All Ages

Maybe your child is still in his or her pre-teen years. Ideal Collaborative has a youth athletic program for him or her, too: CrossFit Kids. Open to kids aged 9-13, the program emphasizes good movement and promotes well-rounded fitness while making exercise fun.

The physical benefits of kids training are obvious, but just as important are the ones between the ears. Bender noted that kids who train in the youth athletic programs at Ideal Collaborative often develop increased self-esteem.

“They might come in and their self-confidence is not great. … They might come in kind of hunched over; they don’t really look at you in the eye; they give you a limp noodle with the handshake,” he said. “And then they start getting strong and fit and all the sudden their shoulders start going back and down, they walk around with their head up high, they squeeze your hand and look you in the eye. Within just a few months it’s a big transformation.”

Sorensen experienced this firsthand with her young son, Jayden, who regularly attends CrossFit Kids and aspires to play lacrosse when he enters the sixth grade next year.

He is so much more confident and coordinated,” Sorensen said. “He is much more willing to engage with his teammates, and he can hold his own during play.”

Fit Kids Are Happy Kids

So whether your child wants to gain an edge in his or her sport, try something new or simply get off the couch, Ideal Collaborative/CutThroat CrossFit has a place for him or her.

There’s no question this place makes them better,” Sorensen said. “These coaches know my kids on a personal level and understand what it takes to motivate them to push them.”