Reality Check: What My Summer "At the Gym" Taught Me
Every summer brings me the opportunity to rest, relax, and work. As a teacher, I continue to work over the summer, but it’s a different kind of work. I unplug from my role as a teacher and focus on purposeful professional growth. This summer, my bucket list for professional growth focused on the following areas: mindfulness, yoga, and dance.
To make it more of an adventure, I decided to join a gym for yoga, spinning, and fitness dance classes. I wanted to see what was new in the fitness class world, and I wanted to learn from others. I also wanted to know what it feels like to join a gym these days, so I could relate that to my students.
The class instructors were happy to answer any questions I had and share insights as they learned I was coming to them as a PE teacher seeking to improve my knowledge and enjoy some personal fitness time. Here’s what I didn’t expect to learn: I developed more EMPATHY for my students.
I didn’t know anyone at this fitness club which naturally puts me outside my comfort zone. I didn’t know which classes would be best, so I decided to try several. These are two factors that made me realize I was coming to the gym each day with the mindset of my students. I was here to learn something new, to interact with people I didn’t know, and I was here to improve my fitness and find things I enjoy. Here are my three big takeaways:
- Starting something new: I forgot how hard it can be to start something new. There were times I wanted to quit. There’d be days I enjoyed it and others where I just wasn’t feeling it or I was tired. These are typical feelings my students also experience.
- Bringing it back to my classroom: My students are still developing their executive function and self-regulation. They don’t have control over the chaos in their home life and their ability to deal with stress and face new challenges is evolving. How am I helping students develop self-regulation skills to help them embrace the challenge of learning?
- Being the new kid: Again, I’m the adult in this experience, so I can handle being the new kid, but it still felt awkward, and I wondered about how it must feel for my students. I didn’t know the organization’s unwritten rules; I had to ask in order to learn the ins-and-outs of etiquette, so I knew how to function in this new ecosystem. People already had their own cliques.
- Bringing it back to my classroom: What am I doing to create an inclusive, safe learning environment? How do I help integrate new students? Do I check up on them enough? Am I letting students know how much I really care? Thinking of my mindfulness practices, am I really present in this moment rather than on the next task or some issue in the back of my mind?
- Trying difficult things: I had forgotten what it feels like to not be good at something or for an activity to really be challenging. The strength class was especially challenging, and I felt great accomplishment once I got into it. The challenge of the burning legs in spin class left me with a sense of satisfaction especially as I did not always think I could make it the full 45 minutes. I felt awkward and lost in some classes, especially Zumba, where the instructor’s cues were solely visual, and my learning style prefers verbal cues along with visual.
- Bringing it back to my classroom: How am I encouraging those students who are awkward movers and/or face more challenge in certain activities? How well am I cueing students when I teach? Am I keeping tasks short and sweet and using good demonstrations, or am I talking too much with no visual demonstration? Have I thought out my progressions so students are setup for success?
Overall, I enjoyed coming at this experience from the perspective of my students. It has helped me think about how I can be more mindful of the student experience and make my classroom a better learning environment. I have developed more empathy, patience, and understanding for my students’ experience in my classroom. It was good for me to be on the receiving end of starting something new, to be the new kid again, and to try new and difficult things.
4 Simple Small-Sided Badminton Games
Add more variety to your badminton unit with these 5 small-sided badminton games. These games can be played with 4 or more students and can be played without a teacher! Create your own unique twists to the games by making them cooperative or playing them in an up and down the river format!
Attack and Defend:
The object of this game is to differentiate when players are on offense and need to be aggressive and when they’re on defense.
Both teams start at the baseline and one team feeds the shuttle to the other team. The two teams play out the point. Whichever team wins the point, runs up to the net. Teams can only win points while they’re at the net. The baseline team can feed any type of shot. It can be a deep lob or a short feed over the net. Every time the net team wins a point, they add it to their score. Once the baseline team wins a point, they transition to offense and can start collecting points. Team battle against each other until one team scores 15 points!
Ping Pong Badminton:
Normal badminton scoring rules apply, but players must alternate hitting the shuttle with their partner (similar to ping pong doubles). This game is great for working on coordination and endurance. It’s also strategic since players must decide where they should hit the shuttle. This game can be played cooperatively or competitively.
Around the World:
Players line up on each side of the net. The first player feeds the shuttle and must run to the other side of the net to join the opposite line. Players continue to switch sides of the net after they hit the shuttle.
Play cooperatively with 4 players by seeing which team can have the longest rally. Play with the entire class by eliminating students after they lose the point. When two players are left, the students must drop their racquet, spin in a circle, pick their racquet up and hit the birdie. The last player left is the winner!
King of the Court – Singles:
This is a competitive game that your students will love! Challengers line up on one side of the court, while the champion is on the other side. Challengers must win two points in a row to take the champion’s spot. If a challenger loses a point, they go to the end of the line and the next challenger feeds the shuttle. Switch the game up and play doubles points with more players!
Pickleball: Teaching Tips and Strategies
Pickleball is a fast-paced paddle game that can be played both indoors and outdoors by all ages. It is very similar to tennis and table tennis! This game is gaining in popularity all across the country and the Pickleball U.S. Open Championship was even televised this year!
At my high school, pickleball is by far the most anticipated unit we do all year long. And I won’t lie I am right there with my students in my excitement level for this game.
If you are looking for more about the rules of the game or even want to see videos of what the game looks like, you can find this information on the internet. I am including a handout sheet that we use at our school for our students. This handout does not include every rule in the rulebook obviously, but it does give our students something to reference if they have a question.
Tips for the Teacher
Tip 1 – Quality Pickleball Equipment
My number one tip for teachers is to make sure you get quality equipment. All equipment is not created equal, and typically cheaper usually leads to buying more later on.
First, you’ll need pickleball balls. We currently only play pickleball indoors, so we only purchase indoor balls (yes, there are both indoor and outdoor balls).
I also recommend purchasing a couple different colors, because depending on the color of your gym you can lose the ball easily. We used to use white but have no found the neon to be the one our students prefer.
The other major piece of equipment is the pickleball paddle. It is amazing to me the variety of materials that are used to make different paddles. We use wooden paddles in our classes mainly because of cost and budget.
Tip 2 – Explain the Rules of Pickleball
My second tip for teachers is make sure you properly explain and demonstrate the rules to the game. Pickleball has some unique rules that separate the game from tennis and other racquet sports, with the double bounce rule being the hardest one for students to understand and remember. We have been playing pickleball for years and we have students who after four years of high school PE still struggle with the double bounce rule.
Tip 3 – Teaching Strategy
My tip for teaching strategy, as is the case for most of the games and activities we do in class, has always been to let my students figure it out on their own for a couple days. It always amazes me to watch students first struggle with the strategy and then slowly and methodically perfect it.
I am not saying I don’t encourage or discuss what worked and didn’t work with students, but I do not give them the playbook. And the really tricky part to the strategy is the difference between playing singles and doubles. I love watching and then discussing strategy with students throughout this unit and hearing the different thoughts they all have on the subject. I also enjoy when the students decide they have finally figured out the strategy to beat me and one of my colleagues. We both love a good before- or after-school challenge, and it motivates our students to think more critically about their game play.
Once your students understand the rules of the game, you can begin refining technique and discussing game strategy. Students with a background in tennis, badminton, or even table tennis will have a slight advantage over other students. All of these games share similar strategy and paddle control. One of the trickiest parts for any student will be controlling the ball off of the paddle, especially once students begin to put spin on the ball.
Find a grip on the paddle that you are comfortable with for both a forehand and backhand shot.
I still have students who try to switch the paddle between their hands because they are not comfortable hitting a backhand shot. Encouraging students to practice backhand shots against a wall in a non-competitive situation is a simple way to start getting them comfortable with the shot.
Make sure students understand the ready position that is used in almost every sport. Ready position meaning standing up on the balls of their feet, knees slightly bent, and eyes engaged. Again, pickleball is a quick game, and if they are on their heels they will not have enough time to react.
When receiving the serve make sure to hit your return shot deep into the opponents back court and try to hit the corners. Because of the double-bounce rule they must let it bounce before they can return the shot, which will allow you more time to move forward for your next shot.
Make sure to talk to your partner when playing doubles. Communication in pickleball is crucial to success, just like in any other sport. Plus, if you don’t talk to your partner you run the risk of getting hit with a wooden paddle, which will not feel good!
The most important part is HAVE FUN! This game is a lot of fun and can be very competitive! We run pickleball tournaments at our high school and are trying to find out a way to play against a couple other schools near us in a home and away competition.
- Mixing up your serve location is a way to keep your opponent off balance and guessing.
- Spots to serve to:
- The back corners of the service box
- The front corner on the sideline side of the service box
- Spots to serve to:
- The power of your serve is also a way to keep your opponent off balance.
- This requires a good bit of control so as not to serve the ball deep and out of bounds or short of the service box
- Remember to stay deep
- You must let the return shot bounce before you can hit it
- Keep yourself positioned behind the back line so that you have the ability to move forward to return the serve.
- Like all sports, it is easier to move forward than it is to back pedal
- Make every effort to return the serve deep into the corners to keep the server back.
- Allows you to move forward and attack their return shot because you are now permitted to volley the ball back
- After you return the serve move forward and stay centered in your court
- Keep your opponent moving
- Avoid hitting the same shot right back the middle
- Mix up your location of shots and depth of shots
- You want your opponent to move often
- This is a skill that will take a little time to develop, but once you have figured out how to spin the ball you will give yourself a tremendous advantage
- Remember your opponent will learn how to do this too!
- HAVE FUN!
Pickleball is a game that students will enjoy as long as you make it fun and entertaining! Students need to know that pickleball is a game that they can play as they grow older, as most YMCA’s and local fitness complexes have started to create leagues and tournaments.
One last thing that we are going to try is a school-wide tournament with students and teachers partnering up. We hope to have students in our media/television technical classes commentate and televise the competition. Events like this are a great way to get everyone in your school involved and active!
Why You Should Teach Badminton in PE
Badminton is a fun and fantastic backyard game and a fan favorite in your Wellness and Physical Education curriculum. What’s even better is that Badminton has a few perks that other activities or sports don’t necessarily have the flexibility to offer:
1. It’s relatively inexpensive.
Once you purchase the Badminton racquets and shuttles, you can move forward to offer the badminton unit. You do also need a net, but can typically repurpose your volleyball and/or Pickleball nets and standards for your badminton unit.
2. Different formats
Badminton can be offered as a recreational, competitive or hybrid unit which is very rare. We’ll explain later in the blog the multiple options.
3. Accommodates all users
Students do not have to be in great shape to play. Of course by playing badminton they will improve their conditioning a little bit but this unit is more about participation, skill acquisition, strategy and cognitive retention. This is not a game kids will shy away from because they are not in great shape.
4. User friendly
Kids won’t be intimidated because they don’t know the game and others do. Most students will not know how to serve, hit, or track the score of the game, so everyone will learn together.
Badminton is FUN! Once you offer the unit and students get a handle on some of the fundamental skills they will truly love to play.
Teaching Badminton in Physical Education
So what is the best way to launch the badminton unit, should it be recreational or competitive? I’ve seen many schools teach it successfully both ways and some schools offer it in a hybrid format that allows for competition and recreational options, which is the option I’d suggest and recommend. Here’s how we offer the badminton unit related to skills, cognitive content, and format:
We set our gym up with 2 strings of nets, with 3 or 4 nets on each string. Basically each string should run east to west right along with your basketball foul line. 6 nets allow for 24 participants (we always start with doubles games) and 8 nets would include 32 students. If your classes are larger, you can certainly put more on each court while you practice or spread them throughout the gymnasium or any annexes you might have available.
Of course we launch the unit with origin of the game, quick fundamental skills explanation, scoring discussion, and then a quick demonstration.
Serving and Basic Clear
We then work on two important skills, serving and the basic clear.
- Serving – Just like in Volleyball, Nitroball, and Table Tennis. Drop the shuttle while swinging the racquet forward.
- Basic Clear – Player returns the serve and hits the shuttle deep and far back into the opponent’s side of the court.
Modified Game Play
Once our students spend some time in “Skill & Drill,” we then allow them play a modified game where they try to be the first to 7 or 11 points. The goal score can be set based on time and also age of the students. We always allow for modified gameplay at the end of the class to motivate kids to want to play and have some fun.
For the first few days we work on fundamental skills like hand-eye coordination to serve and return the shuttle, and reaction time (being able to move quickly to the shuttle). Once we have implemented the service skills and establishing a few shots where kids can return the shuttle we move to our double-elimination round robin tournament. This is where it gets fun!
Kids are allowed to pick their teammates and then must “name” their team. We set up a board for each class/period and list the games by their team name, the students love this! We play the double-round robin and move teams along accordingly. After a few teams are eliminated we reserve 1 or 2 courts for these teams to play recreationally, change teammates or issue challenge matches.
Once we narrow it down to the final game we give the students the option to watch the championship match or play on another court, 99% of the time 99% of the students choose to watch and have fun with the final match.
We schedule at least 2 weeks for most of our units so the 2nd week is where we primarily run the tournaments and allow the kids to come to class excited to warm-up and play their games.
As I’ve shared, there are many options for a Badminton Unit. You can run the unit strictly recreationally, completely competitive, or in a hybrid format the way we do. Of course, you can also delve into allowing the students to play singles too, which opens a much larger perspective related to speed and covering the court. I can assure you that if you make the commitment to acquire badminton racquets and shuttles, your students will fall in love with this sport! Your students will learn the physical skills and cognitive content to play competitively or in a recreational life skill type of environment – the benefits are limitless with this sport and unit!
So take the plunge, offer Badminton, and let us know how it goes! Or, let us know some of the various and creative ways that you offer Badminton in your school or district.
6 Engaging Scooter Games for PE
Let’s all think back to when we had Physical Education in Elementary school. Do you remember wondering what you were going to do for the day as you entered the gymnasium? Then, image you entered the gym and saw a parachute laying out on the gym floor. Best day ever, right?
For kids, the excitement of the parachute is like having your birthday and Christmas on the same day. The only other piece of equipment that even comes close to that same level of excitement is scooters. Every time I bring out the scooters, my students go crazy. Sometimes to the point where I have them use breathing techniques to calm down.
However, like the parachute, the scooter can be a difficult piece of equipment to manage in a class. Not every PE teacher feels comfortable using or teaching with them. A lot of times this is because of a lack of ideas for how to use them. Below are 6 scooter activities that will engage and excite your students!
This is an awesome activity that you can use as an instant activity or as the main activity for the day. What makes this scooter game awesome is that you can use it for any grade level.
Set Up: As students enter the gym, hand a scooter to about two-thirds of the class. Based on your class size, create a few groups of 4 students and have them hold a parachute. These groups are now the jellyfish.
How to Play: The students on the scooters avoid being caught by the jellyfish. If they are caught, they pick up their scooter and exit the game. To re-enter the game, the student does a designated number of a certain exercise (the exercise and repetitions are totally up to you). See a video demo by Chris Custer’s class here. This game is an adaptation of an activity in The Great Games Handbook.
Spaghetti & Meatballs
This activity is a lot like Jellyfish Tag, but instead of the chasers being jellyfish (parachutes), they are now noodles (the spaghetti) and small OMNIKIN balls (or any large ball) are the meatballs.
How to Play: The spaghetti is carried by some of the students while on their scooter. The meatballs are being rolled by students around the gymnasium. If tagged, students exit the game and do an exercise 5 to 10 times and come back in. Play for a few minutes and change the spaghetti and meatball taggers. Remember the amount of taggers you have depends on the size of your class. Check out Justin Wiese’s class performing this activity in this video. Activity Idea by Coach Pirillo.
This scooter activity is great for teamwork and cooperation.
Set Up: How many boats you play with depends on how many gymnastic folding mats you have. I have seven and put between 4 or 5 students on each boat.
How to Play: To make mats move, the students put two scooter boards under their mat and sit on it like they would a chair. The first challenge is to drive the boat around the gym without crashing into the walls or other boats.
The second challenge is to play a game called Pirates. All of the students on their boats help collect treasure from the center of the gym (yarn balls) by driving their boat using their feet. Each boat can only collect one piece of treasure at a time. Play for a predetermined amount of time and see how much treasure each pirate ship can collect.
The third challenge is to have two students sit on top with their feet up while another student drives the boat around the gym without crashing. This can be used with the game Pirates also.
The last challenge is to play a game called Battleship. Scatter cannonballs (coated-foam balls) throughout the gymnasium. Each battleship places a cone on top of their ship. The captain then drives the battleship around the gym collecting cannon balls for their battleship to use for throwing. If your battleships cone gets knocked over or down your battleship then switches drivers (captains). Activity idea by Coach Pirillo.
Hungry, Hungry Hippos
Set Up: Divide your class into groups of three. Place these groups on the baselines of your gymnasium. Each group should get a scooter board and a net. Place balls across or in the middle of the gym.
How to Play: One student lies on his/her belly on the scooter board. The second player is the driver and holds both feet of the scooter board player (hippo). At the signal, the driver pushes and pulls the hippo out to the center to collect as many objects (marbles) as he/she can using a bucket until all the objects are gone or the predetermined time is up. Have the third player count the objects as they are being collected. Play until each student gets a turn to be the driver, collector, and counter.
Check out Gopher’s Scoot-N-Scoop to get a full equipment set for your school! They also have a video demo of how to play.
Scooter Board Sports
Throughout my 19 years of teaching Physical Education, I have played many different sports and activities with scooter boards. It doesn't matter what sport or activity you play, if it's with scooter boards, students absolutely love it!
You can try scooter basketball, soccer, hockey, and football. As long as you have enough scooter boards for everyone in class, all of these activities are possible. What I love about playing these sports with scooter boards is that it evens the playing field. It doesn't allow the most athletic students to take over and allows other students to each evolve.
Get everything you need for scooter board sports and games with Gopher’s Ultimate Scooter Boards and Game Packs!
Set Up: Make an oval around the gym using cones. Place 3 students behind each cone with a scooter board. In the middle of the oval, place a list of exercise for the students to perform. I usually have 10 listed.
How to Play: At the signal, one student stays behind the cone and performs the 1st exercise. While that student exercises, the other 2 students use the scooter board to drive around the oval. Have one student sit with his/her legs crossed on the scooter while the other student drives it by putting his/her hands behind the partner’s back. When they return the teammate that was exercising becomes the driver, the driver becomes the rider, and the rider performs exercise number one until they come all the way around the oval. Play for a specified length of time or until the students perform all 10 exercises.
Before playing any of these activities, you’ll want to make sure you cover basic scooters rules to ensure the safety of your students.
Grit Time: Challenge Students with Fast Fitness [Video]
For a quick and easy fitness workout or activity that you can use indoors or out, try Grit Time! Simply have students spread out in the space and follow your instructions.
- Quick Feet - Fast feet in breakdown position
- Hit It = Drop down to the floor in a push-up position, then pop back up to quick feet
- Down = Drop down to the floor in a push-up position, but stay there
- Up = Push-up/Sit-up
- Flip = Rollover to the right (half flip to back)
- Flip Back = Roll back over
- Switch = While on back, scissor kick
- Feet = Leg raise
- Mountain Climb = Mountain climbers, quickly
Super Shuttle Relay [Video]
What's the biggest down side to relays in physical education? There are a few answers, but the worst offender is that there is too much down time for students standing in lines. Super Shuttle Relay makes sure students are always on the move and best of all, you can use any equipment you have on hand for this activity!
Students get into groups of 5 or 6 (depending on class size) and hustle to a designated colored cone. The first two students in each line hustle to the same color cone on the opposite side of the gym. One stands on the poly spot in front of the cone and the other stands behind the cone. Place all equipment on the baseline of gym.
From the start line, the first person in each line hustles and gets the teacher-designated equipment from the baseline and brings it back to the start line. On the teacher's signal, that same person runs with (shuttles) the designated equipment to the person directly across from them and hands it off. That person then shuttles back to the opposite side. This continues until the teacher stops the msuic of blows the whistle. The time allotment is usually 1-2 minutes per equipment.
Take it up a notch by assigning the students in line a secondary exercise/stretch to perform.
Add a half-court wind sprint on one or both sides.
End this activity with a fun cool down.
5 Team Building and Icebreaker Activities [Video]
Get students moving while helping them get to know each other better and encourage teamwork with these fun activities for physical education!
Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
Pair students and have them off and complete one round. Whoever loses becomes a supporter for their opponent. The winner of the round finds another winner and starts a round. If a student continues to win, their following or supporters gets bigger and bigger. This continues until there are two people or teams left. At this point, allow for a best two out of three round.
Students pair up and decide who the tagger is. When the music starts, the chaser must spin around three times and then tries to tag their partner. Once tagged, they change roles.
For an additional challenge, have students form a group of four and link elbows into two groups of two. Partners then spin around twice before chasing their partners. Elbows must remain linked the whole time.Continue to make the groups larger for more of a challenge!
Tennis Ball Challenge
Teams of 8-10 form a circle with ten tennis balls. One student is the designated tosser. The tosser may not catch a tennis ball. The tosser tosses the ball in the air and any player tries to catch the ball. If the ball is caught, the tosser now tosses two tennis balls. Any two players must catch the two balls. Each player may only catch one ball during any level. If any of the balls are not caught, then the team must start over at level one.
This is great challenge to encourage communication and teamwork.
Teams of 6-8 create a circle and have one reaction ball. One student tosses the reaction ball up in the air and the goal is to have a different student catch it after one bounce. They have now completed level one. Whomever caught the ball will then toss the ball up and allow the ball to bounce two times before someone catches it. Continue this challenge to see how many levels the team can complete. If a level is incomplete, the team must start over at level one.
Frog Toss Catapult
Students are in teams of 8-10. You will need two mini parachutes and one rubber critter per team. Place 4-5 students on one parachute and 4-5 students on another parachute. This is one team working together. The goal is to catapult the frog from one parachute to the other and have a completed catch. The first team to get all the way to the end of the court or designated area and back first wins. They may not use their hands to help the frog on the parachute. If the frog drops on the floor, the team must run back to the starting line and start over.
Run for the Money Fundraiser
One of the biggest struggles for a lot of Physical Education programs is budgetary. In some cases, teachers are lucky enough to work in a district where they have a budget that is fully capable of funding all of their needs and even wants. But for most, PE programs are one area where school districts cut all or some funding, leaving teachers with old, beat-up equipment and unable to try new technologies or ideas in their classrooms to help improve the motivation and fitness levels of students. I find this to be a very sad trend, but one that does have a couple options for solving the problem.
At my school district, our elementary PE teachers host a fundraiser in an effort to bring in money to purchase much needed equipment. I call it the Run for the Money fundraiser because students are asked to find sponsors who will either donate a set amount of money or who will donate so much per lap completed by the student they are sponsoring.
For the first year or two, I’d recommend having the students run during their PE class time. This helps keep the numbers manageable and makes tracking their laps easier as well. Invite the students’ parents to attend and support their children. You can also ask them to help you with lap counting. The other advantage to having parents help you is when it comes time to calculate how much money each sponsor is going to owe each student. Again, remember if you have 500 students in your school and they each get 3 sponsors, that means 1500 calculations that you would have to write down, so get help!
When you have collected all of the sponsor’s donations and calculated your total amount raised, host a BIG celebration to announce the grand total! This is a great time to bring a spotlight to your program and the benefits of physical education.
Add in some competition by having grade-level competitions to see which grade can raise the most money, and offer the winners extra recess as a reward. I caution against awarding individual students who have raised the most money, only because most schools are going to have several students who simply can’t find a sponsor and don’t have the means to be a sponsor. Remember one of the other goals of the event is build school spirit and pride, and to make everyone feel like they are a big part of making your school better!
This might seem like an event that could get overwhelming; but if you get parents, classroom teachers, and your administration involved, it can be a very manageable and fun event for the entire school. Be sure to set goals and make the reason you are raising the money is clear to parents and students early on. People like to know what their donations are used for. So, for example if you would like to raise money to install a rock climbing wall, get the word out about the benefits of the wall and how it will be used in class.
Fundraising at the Middle- and High-School Levels
For those who teach at the middle- or high-school level, this is something you could do as well. It might be a little more challenging to get students to buy in to what you are doing, but it can be done. It can even be used as a school-wide fundraiser for a local or national charity. Sometimes an event like this, where everyone is trying to support a great cause, can really increase school spirit and pride and it may be just what your school needs!
If you have ever held an event like this, please share your stories and what went well and what didn’t. Let everyone know things to consider if they host an event like this. The more input from everyone the more successful an event like this can be for others!
5 Fitness Training and Conditioning Tips [Video]
I have always tried to keep it simple and succinct when giving advice on how to get into shape or maintain conditioning levels. I’ve compiled a list of Training Tips that are absolutely pertinent to training.
Here’s what competing at the high school and collegiate level cross-country/track & field and then coaching/directing high level fitness programs have taught me when encouraging myself or others to develop or maintain conditioning levels:
Change your Clothes
I know, this sounds very odd. However, my high school coach used to preach this to us and it actually works! I can still hear him now. He would say that when you’re supposed to work out and you’re procrastinating or wavering, “simply change your clothes and put on your running sneakers, shorts, etc. and you will feel compelled to go work out.”
We call it “flipping the switch!”, and as odd as it sounds, he was 100% correct. Every single time I do this, it works! I find myself walking around in my workout gear and feeling lazy or silly for not actually working out, so then I go work out. Try it, I bet it works for you too!
It’s extremely important to check in with some sort of expert before you begin a new conditioning program so that you are starting off safely and appropriately. Everyone has different goals and therefore you really want to generate a program that is tailored to your goals, body type, and current fitness/conditioning level.
If you are able to view our attached video clips, our Strength and Conditioning Coach talks about how important it is to have a program designed specifically for you. It is also critical to be able to utilize assessments (generally each week) to determine how far you are advancing related to your goals and workout prescriptions.
Having a conditioning expert or coach to check in with can also generate some much needed motivation and can usually help prevent over-use and injuries.
Routines and Schedules
This can be a “make-it or break-it” type of organizer for those wanting to begin or improve their fitness level. It is very important to set up a routine or scheduled time to work out for the upcoming week. A schedule will really encourage you to carve out the time needed to get a comprehensive workout in.
I typically tell students and adults that you can get a workout in from anywhere to 30-60 minutes if you plan properly. Setting up a time and day to workout is paramount for forward progress.
For example, I would typically schedule my workouts similar to: Tuesday 4-5pm, Thursday 5-6pm, Saturday 9am-10am, and Sunday 9am-10am. If someone were to simply schedule those 4 days to work out and not assign a specific time I have noticed that the workout typically gets bumped when more “important” or fun things pop up. Try specific scheduling for two weeks and see if it helps you to garner better results.
Workout Partners and Workout Groups
These might seem very similar but they are different enough to receive their own mention. A workout partner or buddy is a specific person who you commit to work out with a certain number of times a week.
This can be so helpful as it links you to a schedule time and a particular person who is counting on you to show up so you both can work out together. I have a friend at work, we try to work out 3 times a week, and I can honestly say that if we didn’t commit to those times, I probably would miss many sessions due to being tired, too busy, etc.
Regarding workout groups, these can be lifesavers too. See what two of our football players have to say about workout groups and partners in the video.
Often times, you’re joining a club or form a club of your own and commit to meeting a few times per week to get the heart pumping. This is a great motivator as you feel connected to this “team” and you typically feel obligated to attend the session. It’s also nice to have multiple people different levels all working out at the same time so you have friends all around you during workouts. Workout partners and workout Groups can be a valuable tool to keeping you on the fitness continuum.
Goals, Recording Keeping and Rewards
As our Conditioning Coach mentions in the short video clip, goals are extremely important to everyone who is looking to get into or stay in shape. They are a fantastic way to monitor your progress and ideally inspire you to keep moving forward. Whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle mass, improving your fitness capacity, etc., it is imperative to have short-term goals (weekly) and long-term goals to help you assess where you are currently and how much progress you are making.
Who doesn’t get excited when they’ve lost that pound, gained that indicated bench press weight, or reached an intended fitness heart rate or running time? Rewarding yourself every now and again for achieving some of these goals is encouraged too! No matter how you choose to do it, setting goals and recording them can be helpful and inspiring to achieving your intended fitness level.
So, here is what I have compiled as a high school and college athlete and a Head Coach/Director for almost 25 years. As you can see from the attached videos, our student-athletes here at Milford High School utilize and believe in these 5 fitness tips as they feel that these specific tips help them get into and stay in top shape. We try to offer as much specificity, organization, and professional support as we can during the school year and summers to help our students, student-athletes, and staff/community to embrace maintaining a fitness level that works for them.
How about you and your community? What works for you, your team, or your school? Thanks for checking in and let us know what you think…