gym programming

The Brand X® Method: How to Offer Gym Programming for Youth

It’s Spring TRAINing at PushPress! Today, we're talking to Jeff and Mikki Martin from The Brand X Method® about offering gym programming for youth.

Emily Beers
April 17, 2024
The Brand X® Method: How to Offer Gym Programming for Youth
It’s Spring TRAINing at PushPress! Today, we're talking to Jeff and Mikki Martin from The Brand X Method® about offering gym programming for youth.

It’s Spring TRAINing at PushPress! All month long, we’re talking to some of the world’s best gym programming companies. We gave them each an opportunity to pick the topic of their choice to help with the success of your business. Today, we’re talking to The Brand X Method® - available on PushPress Train- about programming options for youth.

CHECK THIS OUT: For a limited time, you can get 30 days of The Brand X Method® programming FREE! Plus, try PushPress Train for 30 days FREE for new subscribers. (Offers valid through April 30, 2024).

The Brand X Method® founders Jeff and Mikki Martin know a thing or two about launching a successful youth fitness program. The two founded CrossFit Kids in 2004 together. They eventually rebranded to The Brand X Method® now the world leader in youth fitness. The two have devoted their lives to helping kids and teens through health and fitness.

Now, the Martins are aiming to help gym owners like you get started, by offering gym programming specifically designed for youth.

Gym programming for youth
Gym programming for youth benefits the next generation and your business. (Photo credit: The Brand X Method®)

The Benefits of Gym Programming for Youth.

1. Youth Versus Adult Training.

When asked about the biggest difference between youth and adult training, the Martins said coaches often confuse learning to move with learning a movement.

“Good youth programming begins with teaching the rules for movement,” said Jeff. “And then tests the youth’s grasp of rules as they expand their movement vocabulary, before stressing performance.”

He explained that when youth are developing and embedding motor skills and patterns, repeating good patterns is key. It creates lasting, lifelong advantages for movement, sport and health. On the other hand, repeating poor patterns does the opposite.

Jeff continued, “Further, their biological systems and associated capacity for steady state, aerobic and anaerobic training systems are not fully developed. And so programming goals and intentions can easily become misaligned.”

Additionally, psycho literacy (what children understand and how best to communicate), social and physical literacy, and play elements are crucial to optimal programming.

2. Training for Teenagers Versus Younger Children.

Not only is there a gym programming difference from adults to youth, but also a difference from teenagers to younger children.

“One main difference is that teens want concrete results,” said Jeff. “Results they can see and point to. Our teen programming does this by providing tangible progressions that the teens really want. We provide this with a built-in proven youth strength program. It produced more than one hundred state national lifting records from just the kids in our OG Brand X gym.”

3. Why Gym Programming for Youth Matters.

In short, kids are not just smaller adults. As Mikki explained, “They’re developing humans.”

For example, a child’s cardiovascular system doesn’t finish developing until around the age of 21. And the neurological system around age 26. As a result, this should have a profound influence on gym programming for maximizing a child’s potential.

Increasing gym revenue with youth fitness programs
Programming should be progressive across years and developmental stages. (Photo credit: The Brand X Method®)

“Good programming for youth should be progressive across years,” said Mikki. “It also has to be progressive across developmental stages.”

4. Keeping it Fun.

When asked about how to provide gym programming with an emphasis on fun for younger children, the Martins said it’s a three-step process.

“Firstly, focus on and communicate what they did best each day,” said Jeff.

The second step is to use proven elements of free play, and allow for great engagement and adaptation. These elements include autonomy for movement exploration, improvisation and experimentation. Jeff provided the example of letting kids explore creative ways to get over an object.

“Thirdly,” he continued, “reduce stressors like whistles, clocks and obvious testing.”

The Myths and Truths about Youth Fitness Programs.

1. Misconceptions about Gym Programming for Youth.

When it comes to common myths about youth fitness programs, Jeff and Mikki said there are two that come up time and time again.

First, scaling back the reps and weight is “good enough” for offering gym programming for kids. And second, that a youth fitness program isn’t a solid revenue generator for gyms.

The truth for the first myth is that simple scaling isn’t adequate. As we’ve seen, not only should you offer programming specific to youth, but even specific to age groups.

Secondly, when done well, a youth fitness program can significantly increase gym revenue for your business. As the Martins have shared before in “Five Steps to Launch a Successful Youth Fitness Program at Your Gym,” there’s definitely money to be made.

2. Weightlifting Before Puberty: Is it Safe?

In regard to the longstanding myth about lifting weights before puberty, the Martins said “myth” is the key word.

“We’ve been fighting that myth for most of our twenty-plus years working with youth,” said Mikki. “I think the thing to focus on is, all the major organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the leading researchers in the area of youth fitness, such as Avery Fagenbaum and Rohdri Lloyd, all state that strength training for youth is safe, and even recommended for most youth. This is becoming pretty accepted and we often see trainers quoting this now.”

Youth fitness program
Understanding the myths about youth fitness programs is crucial. (Photo credit: The Brand X Method®)

The Martins went on to explain that the safety of gym programming for youth comes with two caveats. First, train coaches in what is developmentally appropriate for youth. And secondly, design programming specifically for youth.

3. The Truth about The Brand X Method® Youth Strength Program.

The Brand X Method® Youth Strength Program is intended for youths that have never touched a barbell. It teaches them how to not only use the barbell, but also to build strength for tasks and sports. Understanding exactly how to program for youth is why the Martins led so many kids to success over the years.

“We had sixteen-year-olds with five-hundred pound deadlifts and three-hundred pound cleans,” said Jeff. “And our local high school football team didn’t.”

In Summary: Programming Matters for Youth.

Kids and teens aren’t just smaller adults. As Jeff and Mikki Martin, founders of The Brand X Method® explain, “they’re developing humans.” They have specific needs that have to be reflected in gym programming for youth.

The various stages of growth need to be accounted for, from early childhood to the teenage years. In addition, it has to be fun and relevant to their goals at each stage.

For gym owners, launching a youth fitness program is not just beneficial for the kids. It can also be a great revenue-generator, developing a safe and effective option for the next generation of members.

Ready to get started? Claim your 30 days of The Brand X Method® programming FREE! Plus, try PushPress Train for 30 days FREE for new subscribers. (Offers valid through April 30, 2024).
Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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