Online physical education, while at first glance an oxymoron (don’t you just that word?) is actually ready for primetime. It can be personalized, performed anywhere, measured and reported. Are we—you—ready for it? No matter the type of school, it is challenging to find ways to engage diverse groups of students in fitness. When I went to school, physical education was focused on organized team games and activities. The activities involved square dancing, which was not always a big hit. There was very little focus on fitness per se, or on developing individual fitness. I enjoyed (and profited from) physical activity, but that was not the case for many of my classmates, who had little desire to stand in front of a group and show how un-athletic they were.
Even as more of the population spends ever-larger chunks of time in front of a computer, a play station, or a television, the opportunities for personalized fitness grow. There are more gyms, bike paths, fitness magazines, advice columns and apps than ever before, making it difficult to avoid exercise, unless you really try. But be careful. I would heed the words of Mark Twain: “Be careful about health books. You might die of a misprint.” You probably won’t die, but you will be poorer if you pay heed to all the claims made.
I exercise nearly every day and I also read about exercise, exercise programs and scientific approaches to exercise. I was a personal trainer, USATF certified coach and martial arts instructor. I also wrote about the then fledgling UFC in the mid nineties. Through all of my experiences, I developed a suspicion of fitness advertisements that have too many pictures of lean (and mean) men and women, because most people will never look like these models, unless they quit work, hire a team of trainers and move to Hawaii. The most outlandish claims usually come from the supplement industry.
In the forest of information and claims, one article recently caught my eye. It described ‘FitStar’ (http://fitstar.com/), an app that can take you through all different types of workouts, from beginner to advanced, can adapt to different intensity levels and can help you train for a particular sport. As I read, a light went on. Why not offer credit in connection with the FitStar app?
Students can ‘individualize’ their fitness by logging in to the app, choosing a program, undergoing an assessment, and charting their progress. They would receive credit for the required physical fitness component.
Think of how valuable an individualized fitness program could be for high school students, even for those wanting to do credit recovery in the summer. The FitStar app comes at a time when only three states have a minimum time requirement for physical education and a full two-thirds of America’s youth gets NO physical activity at all, save the time it takes to walk from the computer to the refrigerator and back. To be fair, 86% of the states require some physical education, but it does not compare to what used to be required.
The State of New York, on its physical education page, lists a standard that seems to address what FitStar offers: “Know the components of personal wellness (nutrition and weight control, disease prevention, stress management, safety, and physical fitness), establish a personal profile with fitness/wellness goals, and engage in appropriate activities to improve or sustain their fitness.”
Now, with the app and Obridge Academy you can not only begin getting fit, but also receive credit toward graduation.