Kids classes, teen “leagues” and summer camps are all vanishing, but parents still want their children to be healthy and fit.
Step in to fill the gap: You have an amazing opportunity to help kids develop a lifelong love of fitness and strengthen your business at the same time.
Pricing Your Kids and Teen Programs
I once made a huge mistake: I priced kids programs at about 50 percent of adult programs. This was 15 years ago, before anyone was coaching kids programs well. But gym owners are still making the same mistake.
Know this: Kids programs are not worth less than adult programs.
In 2023, it’s very clear that programs for children should be priced at least the same as—or higher than—adult programs.
If you’re not sure where to start, call the local gymnastics studio and the best local martial-arts school. You should be priced at least the same as gymnastics programs and much higher than martial-arts training.
Gymnastics schools require qualified coaches to teach skill progressions in small groups. Martial-arts schools have giant classes of kids moving in unison. You’re more like gymnastics than martial arts.
If you think your prices are too high, look at local sports leagues. The price for a 12-year-old to play hockey in my city ranges from $650 to $7,000 (not a typo!) for a five-month season. Travel and equipment are extra.
How to Split up Age Groups
For many years, we ran three age groups for kids and teens at Catalyst:
- A “tots” program for ages 5-8.
- A Junior Varsity program for ages 9-12.
- A Varsity program for ages 9-16.
The problem: “My kid is advanced for her age!”
We solved it with a progression system for kids.
Now, when a parent wants a daughter to train with the older kids, we say: “Sure. There’s a pathway to level up ahead of age. Here’s the criteria: Your daughter only has to test at Level 6 in each of these skills to qualify for the senior program. You can book a personal-training session whenever you’d like her to try the test.”
That ends the discussion—and gives the kid some goals.
The best part? As soon as the kids are integrated into the group, they rarely want to train with older kids outside their peer class.
The Report Card
When we take in teams of athletes, we start with an assessment.
Athletes are given a report card after the first test, and it’s updated with a post-test at the end of the session so kids, parents and coaches can see real improvement.
It’s is also very effective for marketing the program: One kid on a basketball team arrives at tryouts and says, “Hey, coach. Here are my numbers for stamina and power.” The coach will then inquire how the kid was scored.
Daily Food, Mood and Exercise Tracking
We use a simple “Varsity Logbook” to keep track of these elements. You can easily create a low-drag version to log the metrics that are important in your program.
The Varsity Sport Program
Teens who want to compete at CrossFit (or other sports) and work on character skills such as public speaking can opt into Varsity Sport after a year in Varsity.
In the Varsity Sport program, teens do workouts requiring greater skills. You won’t see bar muscle-ups in our regular teen classes but you will in Varsity Sport. You’ll also see assignments for public speaking (helping with the Junior Varsity classes or presenting to adult gym members) and opportunities for paid work.
Scheduling Kids Classes
The best times for kids classes are around their school hours (late afternoon). Many are engaged in sports in the evenings, and they obviously can’t attend during school hours. Saturday-mornings slots at Catalyst always have the best attendance.
Younger kids need shorter classes. Older kids can handle a full hour as long as there are breaks between warm-up, skill and workout periods.
- 8 and younger: 30-minute classes.
- 8-12: 45-minute classes.
- 12 and older: 60-minute classes.
Because younger kids require more supervision, the best way to coach 10 5-year-olds is to run 30-minute classes of five kids each. With older kids, you can run larger classes for longer.
One key for gym owners: Set the expectation that the client won’t attend every class.
Parents are used to the “don’t skip practice or you’re benched” culture of most sports. If their kid can’t attend on Wednesdays, they’ll believe they “can’t do this sport.”
So we say: “Plan to attend eight times per month to get good results, but you can attend up to 12 times if you like.”