Energetic music pumps through the speakers at CrossFit Low Oxygen in Frisco. Throughout the facility's open room, Summit Cove elementary and middle schoolers in bright neon orange and green shirts are in constant motion. They jump down into push ups, lie on their backs and touch their feet and pull themselves up and down on rings hanging from the ceiling. Coaches circle, praising some and encouraging others as they flag.
This has become a familiar scene at CrossFit Low Oxygen. Since the start of the school year, the group of about a dozen middle school students has been walking over to the CrossFit center twice a week after school to work with coaches and train in the CrossFit style.
CrossFit is an increasingly popular method of physical conditioning that can be found across the country. Proponents of CrossFit claim that its "specialty is not specializing," meaning the program is easily individualized to provide fitness and training within the broad spectrum from combat training to general health and wellness.
"They're making some serious progress," said David Tittle, who co-owns CrossFit Low Oxygen with his brother Brent and has been helping train the students. "The best part of it is that they're kind of addicted now. They're getting stronger, they realize the benefit of physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle, which is what we're going for."
Crystal Miller, principal at Summit Cove Elementary, started training at Tittle's facility when it opened. She loved it right away and wondered if there was a way to introduce it to her students as well. She spoke with Tittle, who told her about the CrossFit Kids program, so she started taking steps to bring it to Summit Cove. This included writing grants for child-size equipment at the school and making sure that certified instructors were available.
"It's been great," Miller said of the results. From the moment she announced the program, spots were immediately filled, with a waiting list soon swelling to more than 30 names.
Most of the elementary students involved are in grades 2 through 5, though the pre-schoolers get their chance as well, performing age-appropriate exercises to increase their physical skills.
Physical skills aren't the only focus the elementary and middle school students, however. Tittle emphasizes that learning about health as it relates to exercise and nutrition choices is an important part of the CrossFit program.
"The beauty of it is, it's not just about getting stronger," Tittle said. "It's about having the awareness to make good decisions."
Miller and Tittle have also found a way to incorporate the values promoted by the school's International Baccalaureate program, by featuring a "word of the day" at each session.
For example, "We walk about 'integrity' - so we say, 'Do 30 reps' and that's what we mean by integrity, we do what we say we will, we don't cheat or cut corners," she said. "It's a nice integration for us."
Another benefit that CrossFit affords the students, according to Miller and Tittle, is an increased sense of self-confidence.
"It's a massive confidence builder for a lot of these kids that may not necessarily be fitting into team sports," Tittle said. He added, "The goal number one is just to build confidence. It's to build strength, it's to build speed, it's to build better awareness in terms of nutrition and lifestyle. Especially with kids, it teaches them also how to support each other. ... It's (also) more than that, it's about starting and finishing, it's about being accountable, being responsible."
Miller said that the overwhelmingly positive response means that there is more in store for the future of CrossFit and the school. She is in the process of receiving CrossFit Kids training certification herself and wants to expand the program to summer school students, as well as continuing it next school year.
"It's definitely a growing program," she said.