Friday afternoon at the Home Depot Center, The Gauntlet kicked off.
While many eyes in the venue were focused on Rich Froning Jr. and Annie Thorisdottir, members of the next generation of CrossFitters were busy pushing their bodies to new levels just a couple of hundred meters away.
Eighteen teenagers, aged 13-18, are competing in The Gauntlet this weekend, an invite-only competition for high-school athletes.
Kelly Brown, the owner of CrossFit Agoge in Colorado, has two athletes competing today: Tyler Wallace and Ella Lowenberg.
Brown, a former pediatric physiotherapist, recently abandoned her lucrative career as a physiotherapist to devote all her energy to the CrossFit Kids program.
In between snapping pictures and cheering for her athletes, Brown explained what it’s like to coach teenagers.
“It’s totally different than training adults,” she said. “Their bodies are changing everyday, so their coordination and endocrine system are all over the place.”
She added: “It can be frustrating and challenging.”
“Let’s go, Ella. Keep moving,” Brown shouts from the stands to the 16-year-old Lowenberg, who’s in the midst of an 8-minute AMRAP of wall-balls and double-unders.
“Ella didn’t used to be into sports. She was overweight when she started four years ago, and she walked around dragging her heels,” Brown says, snapping shots of her pupil.
After the event, Lowenberg runs over to her mother and her coach in the stands. She has a huge smile on her face after competing in front of the enthusiastic crowd at the Home Depot Center.
“It’s different competing in front of a lot of people. I’m used to doing it just in the gym,” said the 16-year-old, who trains pretty much every day.
After four years of CrossFit, Lowenberg says the novelty still hasn’t worn off for her.
“I love that I know that I can be the best that I can be when I’m doing CrossFit,” Lowenberg said. “I just want to continue doing it and develop strength over the years. And maybe go to the CrossFit Games one year.”
The way Lowenberg’s eyes lit up with a glowing innocence made it clear why Brown left her career as a physiotherapist to coach teenagers.
Brown, who is also part of the CrossFit Kids Seminar Staff, elaborated on her decision to switch careers. “I used to work with kids that were broken and helped them go from sick to well. So this is so much fun working with kids that have all the tools in the world.
“It has been a labor of love,” continued Brown, who coaches 25 children and 20 teenagers at her affiliate. On top of that, she also works with 100 teens at a local high school.
She said the most rewarding thing for her has been watching kids like Lowenberg transform.
“Ella went from being the kid that sits in the back and tries to be invisible and disappears to the bathroom when it’s time to do rope climbs to the kid that’s demonstrating movements,” Brown says. “The fact that she’s willing try a competition like this in front of all these people, I never would have believed (it) four years ago.”
She added: “It’s really amazing to see her come into her own.”