Updated: Jun 19, 2019
While Julie Muehlenkamp loves to take adult CrossFit classes, she prefers to coach kids. She noticed the kids watching their parents work out and attempting to imitate what they were doing. “I really wanted the family to feel like this was a place they could enjoy fitness together,” Muehlenkamp says.
Muehlenkamp earned her CrossFit Level I Certification in the winter of 2014 and started the Kids Program soon after, at our previous gym, CrossFit Covington. Her “day job” as the Director at an Early Care and Education program for four preschools in Cincinnati hasn’t always allowed as much time coaching as Muehlenkamp would like, but she’s consistently coached the NewCov Kids Program for the past year and a half.
There are ten to fifteen kids that make up the core of the NewCov Kids Program, and it’s divided into two separate age groups: three to five year olds and six to twelve year olds. The three to five year olds’ class is thirty minutes long and focuses on making fitness fun, via fitness games and teaching basic skills like jump rope and working together in a group. The six to twelve year olds’ class is forty five minutes long and focuses on basic CrossFit movements. Bodyweight movements and “impact loading” movements such as squats, pushups, box jumps, and jump rope are taught. Once the kids has demonstrated a solid awareness, weights are introduced. Muehlenkamp loves the kids’ fearlessness. “Kids have usually not yet learned to doubt themselves so they go for it one hundred percent.”
Muehlenkamp’s passion for coaching the NewCov Kids Program goes beyond physical fitness and health. She also cares about the kids’ emotional wellbeing. “You’d be surprised by the conversations we have in the NewCov Kids Class, from being picked on at school to hating homework,” Muehlenkamp says. “That’s all part of the programming as far as I am concerned.”
CrossFit’s sense of community is unique in Muehlenkamp’s opinion given that it’s typically a solo sport. “It really does help to surround yourself with friends that have similar interests and goals,” Muehlenkamp says. “I have made lifelong friends from CrossFit, and, short of being on a team there is not another type of exercise that compares to that. At least not in my experience.”
Throughout the past five years, Muehlenkamp has adopted a cooperative and comprehensive approach to coaching. “I’m not just here to tell you what do, I’m here to guide you in your journey through fitness.”
This is something Muehlenkamp says she shares with her fellow coaches, despite the fact that they coach adults. “It is not rare to have a coach ‘off duty’ taking a class, but not hesitating to jump in and give an athlete tips or cues if they see someone struggling and the coach working the class is talking to someone else.”
In her own journey to overall wellness, Muehlenkamp tried every method she could think of. A personal trainer, group classes, and working out on her own at standard fitness facilities didn’t work. “It wasn’t until I started CrossFit that I really felt like I was gaining strength and increasing my aerobic capacity at a pace faster than any of the other options.”
Working out five days per week with an active recovery day of yoga is always a goal for Muehlenkamp. She thinks rest and recovery are just as important as the exercise itself.
When Julie isn’t coaching the NewCov Kids Program, you can typically find her hiking, spending time with her dog or tending to her and her husband’s thirteen acres of land that they call a farm. The Muehlenkamps have bees and chickens, and hope to buy some goats once a barn is built. “There’s always something to tend to outside,” Muehlenkamp says. “A weed to pull, a beehive to check on, it is very relaxing and rewarding at the same time."