CrossFit at School

WODconnect blog 6 Nov 2018.

Physical education and CrossFit go great together in the only non-profit CrossFit affiliate in Finland, CrossFit Vallila.

Vocational school Stadin ammattiopisto in Helsinki has a typical sports hall. On the walls are basketball hoops and a traditional school clock. But on the other end of the hall there is something special.

Behind a door is CrossFit Vallila. The only non-profit affiliate in Finland, founded in 2013.

Founders and teachers, Marika and Miska Viiri, are proud of their creation.

”CrossFit is an excellent addition to physical education.”

Marika and Miska Viiri have been working as PE teachers for several years. They have been married for a little over than a year and work in the same school.

”Many people ask how can you work together in a place like this. Actually, this is very easy”, Miska states. Marika agrees.

”Each morning we leave together for work. It’s the best.”

Marika and Miska are also both crossfitters. It was affiliate owner Antti Akonniemi who first suggested that they would apply for a non-profit affiliation.

”It made sense. We already had the facility and a chance to supply all the equipment needed. We also both had CrossFit Level 1 Certificates.”

The main reason for founding a CrossFit affiliate in school was the fact that CrossFit includes ergonomic movements that are very useful for students.

”I actually wrote it in the application essay”, Marika tells. ”Functional movements, which CrossFit includes, support working. The application was accepted.”

Teachers, school staff and students are allowed to use the box free of charge. As a special affiliate CrossFit Vallila is also free of affiliation fees.

”I use CrossFit in my every PE class”, Miska states.

In a typical PE class students play basketball and other ball games. Traditionally education includes a lot of endurance training. CrossFit improves also other things and brings much needed variation.

”For example strenght and power are major elements of well-being and the ability to work. By using CrossFit we can teach students how to lift, push and pull safely and how to work in an ergonomic manner”, Marika explains.

”Of course a sixteen-year-old doesn’t think about it that much. Still we hope, that we can give students some basic tools for maintaining well-being and workability.”

School workouts: fun but challenging

Basically students do the same workouts that one would do in a normal CrossFit box. Many times Miska and Marika use EMOM (every minute on the minute) workouts, where students learn movements and skills like in circuit training. Basic movements like pull ups, push ups and squat variations are included in every class.

Students do CrossFit workouts diversely. For example, security guard students learn how to deadlift, clean and push press and push jerk. For them lifting and pushing thecniques are essential.

”In many courses we test Cindy and do it as a first and a final wourkout. Students get exited and want to improve their result”, Miska states.

”Even amongst boys there are students who cannot get a pull up when they come to their first class. After they are done with the CrossFit course, they may get one and many of them actually do get it.”

Deep squat is not a general problem, even though for some it may be a challenge.

”Some students may first say that their knees hurt, like many adults may say, too. But generally they get stronger and more flexible as the course goes on.”

There are not many workouts that students don’t like. Still nobody is forced to do anything. Sometimes a metcon gives them creeps.

”Afterwards students feel that the workout wasn’t as bad as they thought.”

Towards healty working life

In vocational schools maintaining workability and well-being are the main focus points in physical education.

”We try to help students to come up with ways to do sports that they find good and fun”, Marika states.

”Besides sports, we also teach students about nutrition and how important for example sleep is”, Miska complements.

A typical day for a student includes a lot of sitting. Even though the situation is better in vocational school where students are active, both Marika and Miska feel that motor skills have generally impaired.

”The developement is polarized. Major part is in worse shape than before but the other part is fit like competitive athletes.”

Marika and Miska both feel that the students like CrossFit.

”When the class is about to start, many of them ask what do we train today.”

Miska and Marika find their work rewarding. ”I’m nuts about this”, Marika admits.

”I thought previously, that I didn’t want to be a PE teacher”, Miska tells. ”I was wrong.”


Elina Knaapi