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8 Strategies for Creating a Positive Fitness Experience

Posted 1 month 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!

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Incorporating Fitness Trends into Physical Education

Posted 3 months 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!

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Create a Parkour Lesson in 3 Easy Steps!

Posted 5 months 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 10 months 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!

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9 Free High-Intensity Circuit Designs!

Posted 1 year 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. Check out my favorite circuits that I use with my students at Mesa High!

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

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High Intensity Interval Training (HI2T) is the ultimate cutting-edge workout to challenge both the hardcore athlete and novice exerciser.  This high intensity interval-training format takes concepts from a “CrossFit” or “P90X” routine and incorporates them into a physical education class setting.  When used within a periodized training plan, HI2T is both an effective and efficient method for developing athlete’s physical abilities.  HI2T is also the most effective workout to simultaneously burn body fat, improve cardiovascular/muscular fitness, and increase metabolic rate.  Moreover, the versatility of HI2T makes it easy to manage large training groups or class sizes especially when time and space is limited.

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  • Students my work with a partner or by themselves
  • For larger classes partners/stations works best
  • The lesson is called the “300 Workout”
  • The workout = 300 reps w/ 10-30 reps per set
  • The sets should take approx. 45-60 sec. to complete
  • 4-8 exercises are included in each workout
  • The entire workout should take approx. 30-45 min. (not including the warm up)


  • The reps should be executed at a fast speed (explosive)
  • The students must finish all of the reps of one exercise before going on to the next exercise
  • There should be minimal rest intervals
  • The goal should be to move from one exercise to the next as fast as possible
  • Allow a 1-2 min. rest interval after completing the entire sequence each time
  • If working with partners, eliminate the rest intervals
  • The entire workout should take approx. 30-45 min.



  • 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)
  • Improve function of cardio-respiratory system
  • Increase metabolic rate (BMR/post-workout)


  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle power
  • Speed endurance
  • Muscular endurance
  • Mobility
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Muscle hypertrophy
  • Loss of fat weight
  • Metabolic rate


  • 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


  • Simple movements/exercises
  • Reduced teaching time
  • Reduced injuries
  • Adapt to skill/fitness levels
  • Variety in workouts
  • Flexible design of workouts
  • Accommodate large groups
  • Minial space requirements
  • Minimal equipment requirements

300 Workout

Excercise Equipment Reps

Swinging Dumbbell Lunge

12 or 15 lb Dumbbell 20 (10 Each Leg)

Hindu Push-Ups



Wall Squats

 Med. Ball 20

Romanian Dead Lifts (RDL)

Olympic Bar 10

Weight Plate Series 
   Standing Rows
   Military Press
   Biceps Curls
   Tricepts Extension

 25 lb (or up) 
Weight Plate
(10 Each Exercise)

Pilates 50

--  --

Superman 50



  Total Reps (1 Set) 100
    x 3
    300 Reps Total


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

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Back-to-School Icebreakers and Team Building Activities

Posted 1 year ago - by Maria Corte

The first day of school is right around the corner! Maria Corte shares her Top 5 icebreakers and team building activities for the first week of school! Check them out below!

Ice breaker activities are a great way for students’ to connect with their classmates and teachers upon returning to school.  The first few days of school many students are unsure about the class and their relationships with other classmates.  Creating a warm and friendly climate for your class is essential for your student’s success as well as the success of your program.  Making your class inviting and comfortable will not only give your students the confidence to perform well, it will also make you more familiar with your students to decrease any potential management issues.  The following are my top favorite activities that help me, as a teacher learn all the amazing personalities I’ll have the pleasure of working with all semester.

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Rock Paper Scissors Tournament

Students pair up and throw R, P, S shoot.  The winner finds another winner, while the defeated student now cheers on the person that defeated them. This goes on until there are only two students left in the tournament.  Now you have half the class cheering for their “guy” and the other half of the class cheering for their “guy”.  It’s loud, it’s fun and it never fails!

Hint: When you get to the last two remaining students, the winner is now the best 2 out of 3.  



Instruct your students to find other students with the same common interests or likes. The first common interest I use is their favorite COLOR.  Next, MONTH they were born and finally FRESHMAN, SOPHOMORE, JUNIOR OR SENIOR.  Once they have their group, they sit down in a circle and go around stating their name and grade.  (When doing the birth month, have them state their name and the DAY they were born)

Hint:  This activity allows the teacher to immediately identify students who will be leaders, followers, loud, shy, etc…


Partner Tag

Have students find a partner and decide who chases who.  Once the music starts, the student who is chasing will spin around three times before finding and catching their partner.  Once they catch or tag their partner, they reverse roles and the chaser now gets chased. 
Next, have the partners’ pair up again, but this time link arms.  They will now pair up with another group of two linked partners, making it 2 on 2.  They repeat the above process, but must stay linked with their partner, even on the beginning spinning part.
Next, have the linked partners link arms with the linked partner(s) they were chasing making it 4 on 4.  They repeat the above process, but this time the chasers will only spin once.


Team Juggling Name Game

Now that you have groups of 8 from the above Partner Tag game, have them get in a circle (standing) and give each group 3 tennis balls.  They will number off from 1-8 consecutively.  Now have the #1 student take one tennis ball and toss it to #2 student while saying their name and their #.  For example, Joey who is # 1 will say “Joey 1” before throwing it to the #2 student.  This will continue until the ball gets back to #1 student.  Now have the students mix up in the circle and stand next to two different people. Start with student #1 again and have them toss the ball consecutively.  Add another ball and then a third ball to make it more challenging.  


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

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It’s that time of year again-- put away the flip-flops and get out those tennies. 
How and what we plan in these last few weeks before the start up of school will determine the success of your program. Being organized now will help ensure success later.


Top 10 Back-to-School Keys to Success:

1. Curriculum

  • Create your semester outline
  • Develop your student calendar
  • Write your daily lesson plans

2. Create Your Course Syllabus

  • Expectations/Rules and consequences signs
  • Dress and grading plan

3. Compose Your Letter to Parents

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  • What to expect from your PE program
  • Dress and grading requirements
  • Welcome parents to visit
  • Update your school website

4. Bulletin Boards

  • Welcome back; Health and Fitness tips; Safety; School Pride, etc.
  • Make them colorful and inviting – ask students to read them

5. Music Preparation

  • Stay current; avoid inappropriate language
  • Organize your mp3 playlists

6. Equipment Room

  • Clean and organize
  • Assure equipment is in working condition

7. Prepare Your Grade Book

  • Rosters

8. Purchase Orders for Equipment and Supplies

  • Check school budget and ordering policies for the year
  • Make sure you have the essentials! (Whistle, Passes, Pens/Pencils, First Aid Supplies)

9. Facility Sharing

  • Know who is where and when... this also applies to equipment

10. Emergency Plan

  • Know the school first aid policy
  • Establish your first contact for help
  • Use walkie-talkies and/or cell phones


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

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Is it realistic to expect all students to reach specified fitness standards?
What factors control fitness performance, and how much control do children have over their fitness accomplishments?

PE Testing, Phys Ed Test, Physical Education Testing

Heredity directly impacts all aspects of health-related fitness. Various factors, such as environment, nutrition, heredity, and maturation, affect fitness performance as reflected in physical fitness test scores. In fact, these factors may have more to do with youth fitness scores than activity level. Lifestyle and environmental factors can also make a difference. For example, nutrition is a lifestyle factor that can influence test scores, and environmental conditions (heat, humidity, and pollution) strongly modify test performances. Fitness performance is only partially determined by activity and training.

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Beyond heredity lies another factor that predisposes some students to high (or low) performance. Recent research has shown that differences in “trainability” are strongly influenced by genetic predisposition. Trainability explains why some individuals benefit from training (regular physical activity) more than others do. Suppose two students who are equal in ability perform the same workload throughout a semester. Student A improves dramatically, but student B does not. One can imply that student A has inherited a body that responds to training. Student A improves and scores well on the fitness test and concludes, “My hard work pays off.” Student B scores poorly and concludes, “Training doesn’t improve my fitness, so why bother?” Trainability and genetic endowment differences limit or enhance performance, making it important to have different expectations for students.

A recent study showed that about 20% of adults fail to improve aerobic capacity with intense endurance training and 30% do not enhance their insulin sensitivity. These authors concluded that life-style interventions must be tailored to each individual’s genotype. It shows the importance of explaining to students why some will perform well with little effort, whereas others, no matter how hard they try, will never perform at a high level. Many physical traits illustrate genetic differences, such as speed, jumping ability, strength, and physical size in individuals. Understand that a few students will work hard to improve their fitness performance because they respond well to training. However the goal for teachers is to help students who have less genetic ability learn how to play, be active, and enjoy their bodies without worrying about how they compare to others.

Students want to succeed. They try to behave in ways that please the teacher and impress their friends. When the teacher says fitness scores can be improved by working hard each day, most students are believers. Students who have been exercising regularly expect to do well on the fitness tests—and teachers expect the same. But if their scores are lower than expected, students can be disappointed. They are discouraged if the teacher concludes that their low fitness scores reflect inactivity and lack of exercise. Such conclusions as, “You weren’t as fit as some of your peers, therefore you must not have worked hard enough” can be destructive. Conversely, it can be incorrect to assume that students who score high on fitness tests are active. Students who are genetically gifted may be inactive, yet still perform well on fitness tests. If teachers do not teach otherwise, these students incorrectly develop the belief that they can be fit and healthy without being active.   


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