The idea for Classroom Fitness (C-Fit) came to me while I was reading the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J Ratey MD.
In his book, Dr. Ratey explains the fascinating connection between the body and the brain. He presents convincing evidence that exercise is one of our best defenses against everything from depression to Alzheimer’s. Case studies in the book explain how teachers across the country use exercise to help boost student learning.
As a teacher, I was intrigued. Exercise could help my students learn? I thought about how much exercise my students had throughout the day and realized it was not enough – not when a little more could benefit them so greatly! I began to look around for a fitness program that we could do right in the classroom and couldn’t find anything. I decided to create my own. A fitness program for kids that I would want to play in my own classroom everyday.
Now, four years later, numerous studies have been released backing up the exercise-brain connection and C-Fit is available to help teachers provide to their students a daily dose of “Miracle Gro” for the brain.
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us! What do you enjoy most about your work with kids and fitness? I love watching students achieve things that they previously did not believe were possible whether it was performing in front of a large audience, working successfully with a group of students, or completing a difficult move or technique.
Why do you think that fitness important? Staying fit is the key to preventing so many health issues that are prevalent today. I was raised very healthy and constantly put into sports and dance. As a result, I now find it easy to keep these elements in my life as an adult. If children are taught that physical activity is fun at a young age, then they will be able to successfully stay fit into their adulthood and delay or avoid so many health complications.
What do like most about C-Fit? I love how C-Fit incorporates current technology with fitness to get the kids involved, interested and hooked. C-Fit offers a variety of fitness options for children and is designed in such a way where kids are guaranteed to find physical activity fun. The biggest way is that it will successfully get kids moving by showing and proving to kids that fitness can be fun.
Why do you think that C-Fit should be used in schools? Too many schools have had to eliminate their P.E. programs and reduce the recess time for their students. As a result, students are spending the vast majority of their days sitting and not being active. C-Fit provides a cost-effective and fun way for teachers to incorporate physical activity that can be completed in the classroom.
What are some ways we can reduce the childhood obesity epidemic? The two main ways are by physical activity and diet. Students must get up and by physical. As a dance instructor I have observed too many children that are easily winded and have extremely low energy levels. Diet is the other piece: too many children live on a high sugar, high carbohydrate, low fiber, and low nutrient diet. It is important that children eat whole fruits and vegetables and limit the amount of processed foods they consume.
As a child, were you fit? If so, what did you like to do? I was very fit as a child. I loved: track, dance, basketball, soccer, volleyball, playing at the playground, rollerblading, ice skating, playing tag, wall ball, tennis, tag football… basically, if it moved, I loved to do it. J
As an adult, how do you stay motivated? I am very passionate about fitness and moving to the point that if I go longer than 24 hours without doing something physical I feel completely “off”. I find it is important to stay tuned to my body so I can gauge what it needs to be healthy.
Do you have any upcoming projects? I do! I have a project that is in its 3rd year called Mesh Arts. I started this program to address the lack of funding available for children in Togo, West Africa to stay in school. I just returned from holding my 3rd annual program and currently sponsor 50 students so that they can afford their school fees, books, and school supplies. For more information about Mesh Arts, you can visit www.indiegogo.com/Youth-Education-Project-In-Togo-1.
How did you come up with the idea for C-Fit? Several years ago, I realized that my students needed more physical activity throughout the day. I began to look around for a fitness program that we could do right in the classroom and couldn’t find anything. I decided to create my own: a fitness program for kids that I would want to play in my own classroom everyday for a quick physical activity break.
Why do you think that fitness important? Children and teens who are fit may have more energy and better focus at school. In addition to play time and sports, children should learn how to take care of their bodies using the skill of fitness. Children need physical activity everyday, even on rainy days, busy days or days when there is no one else around.
What do the kids love about exercise? Exercise feels good! Adults like it because it lifts their mood, sharpens their brain and energizes their body. Children like it because it’s fun. Playing, chasing, climbing, running, dancing…the list goes on. Remember how much fun it was to run as fast you could or jump as far as possible? Children love to challenge themselves and conquer a new feat.
What do like most about C-Fit? C-Fit is simple and quick. I can play the videos on my iPad or Smartboard and supervise the kids for a quick ten-minute break. Sometimes I use it in the morning to wake them up, or after lunch to help them focus again, especially on days when they have indoor recess. Sometimes I’ll sense that their energy is low and they need to move around, or I’ll use it as a little brain break if I sense that they’re becoming mentally fatigued.
Why do you think that C-Fit should be used in schools? Children spend up to half of their waking hours in school and/or some kind of after-school program. This puts the schools in a unique position to have a powerful impact on a child’s health. Health can have a powerful impact on a child’s ability to learn. Fitness should not be thought of as something that is done in addition to academics. It should be an integral part of a school day because it supports learning.
C-Fit is a children’s fitness program consisting of twelve workouts that include yoga, dance and cross-training. Differentiated for kids at any fitness level, use one set of workouts exclusively or mix and match to create a customized exercise program for children.
Created by teachers for use in the classroom, this program can be used for groups of children ages 5 and up in any setting. C-Fit is conveniently available as an iPad or iPhone app. C-Fit does not require special equipment or space and all workouts are taught by trained fitness professionals.