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Tabata Workout Ideas for Physical Education

Posted 5 months ago - by Maria Corte

Are you using tabata and interval training in your physical education classes? These training methods are a great way to burn calories, improve aerobic capacity, and keep students moving. Below I've outlined the benefits of using these training methods, how I use tabata in my PE classes, and additional tabata activities for PE. 

What is Tabata?

Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It's 4 minutes of high-intensity training, alternating between 20 seconds of max training followed by a 10-second rest for a total of eight rounds. These workouts are fast-paced, fun, and burn tons of calories. It’s named after the researcher who first studied it and is gaining traction across the country. New research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows that it can burn up to 15 calories per minute.

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What is interval training?

Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. For instance, if your exercise is walking—if you're in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you're less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you're walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks.


What can interval training do for me?

According to the Mayo Clinic Staff’s article, Rev Up Your Workout with Interval Training, “Whether you're a novice exerciser or you've been exercising for years, interval training can help you jazz up your workout routine. Consider the benefits:

  • You'll burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you'll burn—even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time.
  • You'll improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you'll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity. Imagine finishing your 60-minute walk in 45 minutes—or the additional calories you'll burn by keeping up the pace for the full 60 minutes.
  • You'll keep boredom at bay. Turning up your intensity in short intervals can add variety to your exercise routine.
  • You don't need special equipment. You can simply modify your current routine.”


How do I use Tabata in my PE class?

I use Tabata 2 ways:

  • With a timer: Using the Tabata Pro app, I project the timer from my iPhone onto the gym wall. All I need to do is hit start and the program timer runs itself through the entire series including warm up and cool down. With the app, I have the choice to use the preset traditional interval series or customize my own interval components. 
  • Without a timer: Use a Tabata music pre-mix to guide the students through their four-minute interval series. In the search box on iTunes®, type in Tabata workout music, or anything close to that, and you will find tons of pre-set/pre-mixed Tabata music choices on iTunes with voice overs included.


Tabata Workout Plans and Ideas for PE

Here are a few ways I use Tabata during my PE class. It works perfectly for warm-up or cool-down activities.

  • Get the students in groups of 4 and have them number themselves, 1-4.  Start the Tabata music mix from iTunes®. Instruct each student to choose an exercise for the rest of their group of 4 to do until the 20 seconds is up. During the 10-second rest, student #2 then chooses an exercise to lead. The students repeat this until all 4 students have had the opportunity to teach their peers 2 times each. This will be the 4-minute workout as stated above. As the instructor, you never need to start and stop the music… it’s all pre-set and recorded for you! 
  • I use the same Tabata music, but I lead the entire class and change the exercises at each interval. I’ll do medicine ball ab exercises, jogging/walking, body bar exercises, stretches, yoga poses etc…
  • I use the Tabata Pro app as a rotation device to guide students through various circuits. With the timer, I set the length of the workout to fit my needs. For example, the workout will be 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes in length. With this approach, you may select your own music to be played while using the app. 


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!

Check out more Blogs by Maria!

Games, Fitness, and FUN with Topple Tubes!

Posted 11 months ago - by Maria Corte

I was looking for a new activity for my students – something with versatile equipment that could be used for multiple activities. I came across these 2-colored tubes, called Topple Tubes, that seemed like a great fit! 

On day one, I played a game where the students flip their team’s color up while the music is on and count which team had the most of their color up when the music stops.  They LOVED it!!!  And I especially loved watching them run around (cardio) and do a bazillion squats (strength) each time they flipped the tube over!  Score! Watch my students play the game.

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The next day I played the same game but inserted different locomotor movements and exercises while playing.  This also got my students moving and they still loved it!

I wanted to do more than play games with these tubes, so I created a partner fitness lesson using the tube as a piece of fitness equipment.  I had the students complete about 10 different partner exercises including upper body, lower body, cardio, and core – all while using one Topple Tube per pair!  Since the set comes with 24 tubes, this lesson catered to 48 students! Even more bang for my small PE bucks! The student’s feedback was overwhelmingly positive, especially since it was a pretty challenging workout.

Fitness Partner Exercises:

Cardio/Agility Exericses: Be creative! Here's a video of one cardio activity my students did using the tubes.

Squats: Stand side-by-side with partner.  Partner A squats and picks up tube from the outside leg and places it in between partner B.  Partner B picks it up from the middle and taps in on the ground on their outside leg.  Repeat.

Lunges: Face partner. Partner A lunges forward. Flips tube. Partner B goes. Alternate legs

Straight-Leg Dead Lifts: Face partner. Partner A, bends at waist, flips tube, partner B goes.

Push-Ups: Tap chin on tube, flip and place under partner’s chin.  All while in high plank.

High Planks: Face partner in a high-plank position. Place tube in between each partner. Partner A flips tube.  Partner B flips tube.  Alternate flipping hand.

Low Planks: Same as high plank but in low stance.

Sit-Ups: Face partner in a sit-up position.  Place tube in between feet.  Partner A & B both sit up but only Partner A flips the tube.  Both go back down.  Both sit up again but now Partner B flips the tube.

Russian Twists: Partners sit side-by-side.  Place tube on the outside of Partner A. Partner A twists and taps the tube on the floor of each side three times then places the tube in the middle of the two partners.  Partner B does the same three twists and returns the tube to the middle.

I am currently working on designing an agility course using the tubes.  I like these Topple Tubes because they are sturdy, well balanced, and I really like the size.  The uses are endless…you just have to think out of the box. Shop Topple Tubes


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas and tips!

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Inclusion in P.E.: A Choice, Not a Mandate

Posted 11 months ago - by Maria Corte

I recently did a Gopher Solutions Webinar on this topic in July, and I was surprised at how many other PE teachers shared with me that they too are teaching special needs students in their regular PE classes.  Therefore, I thought I’d share this again, this time in blog style!

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Why This Topic?

Last year, I had the great fortune of having 15 special needs students added to one of my PE classes. Inclusion in my PE class did start out as a mandate, but something wonderful happened… it became a choice.  I currently teach a new course called Modified PE.  There are approximately 50 students in the class with a 1:1 ratio of students with disabilities and students without disabilities all working together to become physically active!

Embracing Inclusion

As educators, it is our moral obligation for all students to feel included.   There shouldn’t be one group that is considered more special than the rest.  They are all special.  Rather than a how-to approach, this blog will be an opportunity to share with you my experience with inclusion and how it impacted myself and my students—all of my students.  

Possibilities VS Disabilities

This is a mindset folks… if we look at these special needs kiddos as people with disabilities and what they can not do, it will be very difficult to have a vision of what they can do.  If you give them a chance and approach each lesson with the attitude (and patience) that they are capable of participating in the same activities as your other students, you will be so surprised and oh so touched as to what they can do! Finally and most importantly, all students deserve basic rights or the same opportunities. All students deserve to have a positive PE experience. I frequently remind myself, “It doesn’t matter how they got here; they are here now and all my students will be treated equally.”

Tips for Success

  • Be extremely structured with class format and rules
  • Repetition is key!
  • Practice management every day
  • Practice putting equipment away
  • Practice keeping hands and feet to themselves
  • Keep instructions short and simple
  • Discipline the students with disabilities the same as you would students without disabilities.
  • Have an emergency plan in place and practice it
  • Practice fire drills before they happen
  • Modify lessons and/or equipment for student success (but not too much)
  • Don’t assume they are incapable; they’re not
  • Be flexible
  • Create a positive working relationship with the SPED teachers and instructional aides
  • Get to know students, get them moving, play music, and have fun!

Final thought... Let’s be advocates of all students.They are all special.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips, trends, and ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Maria!


Using HIIT Workouts in PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Maria Corte

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and is the ultimate, cutting-edge workout to challenge both the hardcore athlete and novice exerciser. This blog how to successfully incorporate HIIT-style workouts into a physical education-class setting.

When used within a periodized training plan, HIIT is both an effective an efficient method for developing the physical abilities of athletes. HIIT is also the most effective workout to simultaneously burn body fat, improve cardiovascular and muscular fitness, and increase metabolic rate. Moreover, the versatility of HIIT makes it easy to manage large training groups or class sizes, especially when time and space are limited.


Format – "300 Workout"

  • Students work with a partner or by themselves
    • For larger classes, partners and/or stations work best
  • Workout = 300 reps with 10-30 reps per set
  • Sets should take approximately 45-60 seconds
  • 4-8 exercises are included in each workout
  • Entire workout should take about 30-45 minutes (not including the warm-up)


Rules –

  • Reps are to be executed at a fast speed (explosive)
  • Must finish all of the reps before moving on to the next exercise
  • Minimal rest between intervals
  • Move from one exercise to the next as fast as possible
  • 1-2 min rest interval is allowed after complete an entire sequence
    • If working with partners, no rest interval


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Benefits –

  • Physiological Goals

    • Train fast twitch muscle fibers
      • Recruitment/hypertrophy
      • Fast oxidative fibers
    • Improve capacity of phosphagen & glycolytic energy systems
    • Increase tolerance of lactic acid
      • Lactate threshold
      • Removal from muscle
    • Increase metabolic rate
      • BMR
  • Physiological Advantage

    • Simultaneous improvement of multiple fitness variables

    • Shorter workout, faster (and better) results

    • Greater calorie expenditure during workout

    • Increased post-workout metabolic rate

    • Promotes loss of body fat

  • Impact on Physiological Variables

    • Muscle strength

    • Muscle power

    • Speed endurance

    • Muscular endurance

    • Mobility

    • Cardiovascular fitness

    • Muscle hypertrophy

    • Loss of fat weight

    • Metabolic rate

  • Logistical Advantages

    • Simple movement/exercises

    • Reduced teaching time

    • Reduced injuries

    • Adapt to varying skill and fitness levels

    • Variety in workouts

    • Flexible design of workouts

    • Accomodate large groups

    • Minimal space requirements

    • Minimal equipment requirements


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!

Check out more Blogs by Maria!

  • Halloween is quickly approaching and if your students are like mine, they are starting to get squirrely and excited.  Not to mention their increase in sugar intake from CANDY!!!! 
  • In order to embrace their enthusiasm and not go “crazy” myself, I like to incorporate a few activities into my curriculum that will not only celebrate this special time of year but get them moving. 


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3 Spooky Fun PE activities for Grades K-12!

1. Spider Web Team Challenge: 

Objective: Pass each student from one side of the web to the other without touching the web.  

I use the Spider's Web Team Challenge™ from Gopher for this activity. 


2. Zombie Tag:

Objective: Be the last "human" remaining.

How to Play:  Turn out the lights in the gym (mine has a few emergenc lights, so it doesn't get too dark... safety first!). Then, play spooky music. Everyone starts out as a "human" and walks (no running!) around the designated space (I recommend the basketball court). If a "zombie" taps a student on the shoulder, both arms go up in front of them and they are now a zombie. The zombies walk around with their arms up trying to tag the remaining humans. I am the first zombie to start the game off. I only tag one studenta nd get out of the game and monitor. Zombie tag runs itself from tht point on. Once you see that all students are now zombies, the game is over. 



3. Glow in the Dark Ball Toss:

Objective: Be the 1st team to get the glow in the dark ball(s) from one end of the gym to the other using parachutes (or sheets), without dropping the balls.

How to Play: Students get into teams of 8-12. Half of the students use 1 parachute, and the other half uses another. They work together, using the parachutes, to catapult the glow in the dark balls to the parachute in front of them. Students may not use their hands to catch the balls. If the ball drops on the floor, the team must start back at the starting line.

You can use the FireFly™ Flow in the Dark Dodgeballs and 6" or 12" diameter Parachutes for this activity.


Check our more great Halloween Games & Activities


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!

Find more Blogs by Maria!


8 Strategies for Creating a Positive Fitness Experience

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

How well a fitness program is taught increases the possibility that students become hooked on the activity.

A fitness activity, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. Instead, how fitness activities are taught influences how students feel about making fitness a part of their lifestyles.

Physical educators should keep in mind that the majority of youth (unless it is a class designed for athletes) are more interested in good health than high levels of skill-related fitness.

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8 Strategies for Creating a Positive Fitness Experience:

1. Individualize Fitness Workloads

Students who often find difficulty during fitness activitties, are less likely to develop a positive attitude towards physical activity. 


Strategy: Use time rather than reps and distance as the lesson objective and encourage students to do the best they can within the time limit.


2. Present a Variety of Fitness Routines & Exercises

Teaching a wide variety of  fitness activities decreases the monotony of doing the same routines week after week and increases the likelihood that students will find their fitness experiences enjoyable.


Strategy:  Frequently change fitness activities by changing the design, music, equipment and exercises. 


3. Provide Meaningful Feedback

Teacher feedback is instrumental in the way students perceive fitness activities. Immediate, accurate, and specific feedback regarding performance encourages continued participation.


Strategy: Provide feedback in a positive manner, this feedback can stimulate youths to extend their participation habits outside the PE class. Reinforce everybody, not just those who perform at high levels. All students need feedback and reinforcement, even if they are incapable of performing at an elite level.


4. Teach Physical Skills and Fitness

Physical education programs teach skill development and fitness. Some states mandate fitness testing, which may make teachers worry that their students “will not pass.” This concern can lead to the skill development portion of physical education being sacrificed in order to increase the emphasis on teaching fitness.


Strategy: Teaching various skill-based activities such as tennis, badminton, swimming, golf, basketball, aerobics, cycling, and the like will give students the tools needed to maintain fitness.  People have a much greater tendancy to participate as adults if they feel competent in an activity. Skills and physical activity go hand in hand for an active lifestyle.


5. Be a Positive Role Model

Appearance, attitude, and actions speak loudly about teachers and their values regarding fitness. Teachers who display physical vitality, take pride in being active, participate in fitness activities with students, and are physically fit positively influence young people to maintain an active lifestyle.


Strategy:  “Walk the Talk”.  It is unreasonable to expect teachers to complete a fitness routine each period, 5 days a week. However, teachers must exercise with a class periodically to assure students they are willing to do what they ask them to do.


6. Foster the Attitudes of Students

Attitudes dictate whether youths choose to participate in activity. Teachers and parents sometimes take the approach of forcing fitness on students in order to “make them all fit.”  This can lead to resentment and insensitivity to the feelings of students. Training does not equate to lifetime fitness. When students are trained without concern for their feelings, it is possible the result will be fit students who dislike physical activity.

Once a negative attitude is developed, it is difficult to change. This does not mean that young people should avoid fitness activity. It means that fitness participation must be a positive and success-based experience.  


Stategy:  The fitness experience must be a challenge rather than a threat. A challenge is an experience that participants feel they can accomplish.

In contrast, a threat appears to be an impossible undertaking—one where there is no use trying. As a final note, remember that whether activity is a challenge or a threat depends on the perceptions of the learner, not the instructor. Listen to students express their concerns. Don’t tell them to “do it for your own good.”


7. Start Easy and Progress Slowly

Fitness development is a journey, not a destination. No teacher wants students to get fit in school only to become inactive adults.


Strategy: A rule of thumb is to allow students to start at a level they can accomplish. This means offering the option of self-directed workloads within a specified time frame. Don’t force students into heavy workloads too soon. It is impossible to start a fitness program at a level that is too easy.

Start with success and gradually increase the workload to avoid the discouragement of failure and excessive muscle soreness. When students successfully accomplish activities, they learn a system of self-talk that expresses exercise behavior in a positive light. This avoids the common practice of self-criticism when students fail to live up to their own or others’ standards.


8. Encourage Activites that are Positively Addicting

Teachers want students to exercise throughout adulthood. Certain activities may be more likely to stimulate exercise outside of school. Glasser, (1985) in his book Positive Addiction suggests that if the following activity conditions are met, exercise will become positively addicting and a necessary part of one’s life.

These steps imply that many individual activities, including walking, jogging, hiking, biking, and the like, are activities students might regularly use for fitness during adulthood.


Strategy: The following strategies will help students “get hooked” into physical activities:

  • The activity must be noncompetitive; the student chooses and wants to do it
  • It must not require a great deal of mental effort
  • Choose activities that can be done alone- without partners or teammates
  • Students must believe in the value of the exercise for improving health and general welfare
  • Participants must believe that the activity will become easier and more meaningful if they persist. To become addicting, the activity must be done for at least 6 months.
  • The activity should be accomplished in such a manner that the participant is not self-critical


Easily introduce fitness circuits into your class with UltraFit™ CircuitPro™ Circuit Training Packs


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!

Check out more Blogs by Maria!


Incorporating Fitness Trends into Physical Education

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

P90X®, INSANITY®, FOCUS T-25®... We've all seem these Beachbody® programs advertised on TV or heard about them from a friend, maybe even tried them for ourselves.

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BUT, how can you incorporate these programs and other fitness trends, like Crossfit or Zumba, into your physical education program?

Find out below!

I've found that most of my students have heard of these programs, but very few have actually tried them. The feedback I get is that they are too expensive, and they're right, they are! 

One of my main goals as a physical educator is to expose my students to as many different types of fitness activities as I can before they graduate. Hopefully they will not only gain a little experience and knowledge in each of these trends, but find something they really enjoy and will continue with. 

Here are a few tips for incorporating these trendy DVD's into PE:

  1. Buy the DVD set
    • Whether you buy the set yourself or use your PE budget, step one is to buy the DVDs!
  2. Try it yourself
    • Before asking your students to complete a video, always try it yourself! I usually do this over the summer when I have some free time. I do this because my experience with these "trendy" fitness DVDs is that they are either a bust or I feel like they may not be suitable for the fitness levels of my students.
  3. Design a lesson using portions of the DVD
    • Choose parts of the videos that you can incorporate into a circuit or lessonl Make sure they are easy to follow. Keep in mind the fitness levels of your students. If you choose a portion that is too physically difficult, they will not have success or use proper technique.

Additional tips:

  • Play the actual DVD one time per class so they can have a true experience of what it's really like
  • Incorporate these new exercises in weight room circuits or in a fitness class
  • Make signs to help guide the students through a circuit, or partner or group format

My students have really enjoyed being able to try what they see on TV. Not only do they stay abreast by trying these cutting edge fitness programs, but they are also getting in great shape along the way!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great trends, tips, and ideas!

Check our more Blogs by Maria!


Create a Parkour Lesson in 3 Easy Steps!

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

Are you itching to get your students outside? Need a new outdoor activity that doesn't use equipment? 
Sometimes a new and innovative lesson is waiting for you right in your own back yard, well, your school’s backyard!  Find out how you can utilize your school campus to get your students moving in 3 easy steps!

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Living in Arizona, the weather allows me to take my classes outside most of the school year.  However, the track setting can sometimes get tiring.  One day while I was watching American Ninja Warrior on tv, I noticed the athletes were always talking about how they use Parkour training to prepare for their event. Parkour is an activity in which participants seek to get from point A to point B, like in an obstacle course, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Typically skills such as jumping, climbing, and running are used.

3 Easy Steps To Create a P.E. Campus Fitness or Parkour Lesson:

  1. First, walk around your campus find anything that can be used to work the upper body, lower body, cardio, and core.

    • Examples include, ramps, walls, picnic tables, benches, stairs, railings, hills, etc.

  2. Next, map out the campus to create a smooth flowing course. 

    • Example: I started just outside the gym, then worked my way around the campus and ended at the gym in time to dismiss class.

  3. Combine 3-4 items to make an obstacle.

    • Suggestion: I call or label each obstacle a Challenge and label them 1 through 5.  My objective for the students on Campus Fitness Day is to have them complete 5 Challenges before the end of the class period.  We do each Challenge together as a whole class and I utilize the “Never Leave Anyone Behind” philosophy.  My stronger students help and/or encourage those who need some extra time or assistance.  Once all students complete Challenge 1, we move to Challenge 2 and so on. 

Here are some photos of my students workin’ it during our last campus fitness day! 



Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

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Music: Increasing Student MVPA and Steps!

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

Increase your students' steps and MVPA during class with this tip!

Fit Step Pro, Fit Step Pedometer, Fit Step, Gopher Fit Step, Pedometer

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A HUGE strategy that I use to motivate my high school students is to play loud, fun and powerful music while they move.  My student teacher and I recently did a study to test the impact music has on student motivation and movement.  We used our GOPHER FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometers with our students to compare how many steps and how much MVPA time they got with and without using music while participating in the same exact fitness lesson.  As you could imagine, the day we used music the students increased their steps and MVPA time significantly!   Their steps increased by 16% and their MVPA time was increased by 12%

The key, however, is to pick music that is popular with the students, clean from inappropriate lyrics and meanings, has a fast BPM (beat per minute), and has a powerful feel. 

These are my three favorite websites that I use to download the perfect music:

  1. Instructor Music
  2. Power Music
  3. iTunes store/Genre/Fitness & Workout

Check out this great article on 7 Reasons You Should Listen to Music When You Work Out!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips, trends and ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Maria!



9 Free High-Intensity Circuit Designs!

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

Need new high-intensity circuit designs for your students?

Maria Corte shares her favorites below!! 

free HIIT circuits, strength circuits, strength routines

These cutting-edge, creative circuit designs are high-intensity, fat burning, strength and conditioning workouts which uses a wide variety of fitness equipment including kettlebells, fitness bars, medicine balls, strength bags, balance trainers, resistance tubing, kickboxing gear, agility courses…etc. These circuits advance students from station to station with or without a timer in the most unique and “out of the box” ways imaginable! Whether you want your students to lose body fat or gain muscle, these unique, challenging circuits will push their limits that they didn’t know they could reach! Finally, your PE students will improve their fitness levels and your athletes will become super explosive and strong.

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Check out my favorite circuits that I use with my students at Mesa High!





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