CrossFit Norwalk Brings Kids Into Fitness Mix

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Gilbert Schuerch teaches children at CrossFit Norwalk.
Gilbert Schuerch teaches children at CrossFit Norwalk. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. – Less than a year out of college, Norwalk’s Gilbert Schuerch believes he has found his career.

Schuerch is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer at CrossFit Norwalk, and he has found his passion in teaching kids the program.

“Teaching kids has made me re-evaluate what I want to do as career,’’ said Schuerch, who graduated last year from the University of Delaware with a degree in English education. “I loved student teaching, but I don’t think what I taught always applied to kids. When I teach strength or conditioning, it applies to real life. I think teaching fitness is one of the most important things a child can learn.”

CrossFit Kids program at the Norwalk facility is for children ages 3 to 18. Schuerch has obtained his certification to teach CrossFit to children.

His goals are different for each age group. For younger kids, he incorporates games based on the skills they learned during class. Programs for older children are designed to improve athletic performance, and focus on core strengthening, endurance, strength and speed.

The objective for all age groups is the same. Schuerch wants to instill a lifelong love of fitness.

Some skeptical parents believe children can improve fitness by playing outdoors, he said.

“That’s something I encourage,’’ he said. “At the same time, I want them to know how do certain exercises, like a squat, properly. We want to get those repetitions at a young age. If a kid knows how to do that properly, he has that foundation to do it on his own. I didn’t know how to do a squat properly until I came to this place. Any child who learns proper technique at a young age is much better off going forward in maintaining their own fitness without a trainer.”

Parents do not pay for the first class for children at CrossFit Norwalk, so they can see what the program entails. “I show them what the class is, and they’re usually pretty convinced by the end,’’ Schuerch said. 

Students are evaluated according to age. With younger students, he focuses on making workouts enjoyable and making proper repetitions. For teenagers, he will add weight only after he’s certain the child can handle it.

“I don’t let a kid touch a weight until I’m satisfied in how he moves without it,’’ he said. “If they’re not moving right, it’s because I’m not coaching it right. I use load as motivation. All kids want to lift heavy. If their form is perfect, I reward them with weight.”

Classes are available five days a week. The cost is $100 for a 10-pack, and $80 for siblings. 

“When I was student teaching, it cemented the idea that I need to work with kids,’’ said Schuerch, a Norwalk native who tried an assortment of sports throughout high school and college. “I was a camp counselor for a lot of years and loved it. But working with kids here, improving their fitness, having fun, has been great. This has given me a lot more resources to do what I want to do.”

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