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The Fitness Center: Transitioning from the Weight Room

Schools are quickly shifting toward a fitness-based approach instead of the traditional sports rotation. The largest school board in Canada (Toronto District School Board) is moving towards PAF being offered as early as grade nine. This shift is not being made on a whim; it’s backed by data. 99% of students do not play competitive sports past high school, and according to Statistics Canada, only 27% of Canadians participate in recreational sports. This means that in a typical grade 9 PE course of 30 students, only 8 students will continue with the curriculum and use it to maintain their health. The other 22 students will have no education on how to maintain their physical health. So how do PE teachers who now have 30 students going into a fitness center for most likely the first time be successful? 

Step 1: Removing the stigma around the “weight room”

The term “weight room” came from sports in education. This wording created a feeling that weight rooms are only for athletes or those with training pursuits rather than just anyone who is interested in their own health and wellness. Words matter, so step one would be to stop calling it a weight room and call it a fitness center instead. 

Step 2: Leverage the opportunity to individualize the learning.

Bringing a class to the gymnasium and letting them play a game of kings court is not an individualized experience. The fitness center, and the beauty of it, is that every student can explore it at their own pace. As a teacher, lean into technologies that help you build programs for students that allow them to track their own progress over time, set goals, and share resources they would be interested in. 

Step 3: Shift the teaching style to student-driven and place yourself in a spot of answering the questions not asking them.

When we flip the learning and encourage students to explore outcomes not only in class but outside of class we are doing much more than teaching, we’re instilling a growth mindset in students which is a learning skill that will last them a lifetime. 

Have a great day, I’m hitting the fitness room to work out!

-Coach Cal

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