Home' Teacher : March 2011 Contents 46 TEACHER MARCH 2011
'There are a number of providers in the
kids' fitness market, some who do it very
well and some who are still learning. The
opportunity to develop relationships with
local schools, councils and community
groups has never been more ripe but the
proof is in the program.'
Sam Wood from Gecko, which provides
kids fitness programs inside and outside of
schools, agrees that the quality of the pro-
gram and its 'kid friendliness' is crucial.
'PE in schools is a huge concern. There is
such a huge spectrum from the best school PE
facilities to schools where facilities and pro -
grams are virtually non-existent,' Wood says.
'There has been a positive turnaround in
the last five years that has increased aware-
ness within schools that there are fitness
options available for them to outsource to.
I believe it is important that the companies
or individuals delivering these in-school
services are appropriately qualified and are
kid experts with kid programs. It is critical
that these ser vices are adaptable and can
deliver something different to each school
depending on their existing resources and
what they need.
'PE staff and outside services need to work
together rather than compete to give kids
education, skills, fitness and fun,' he says.
'Too many schools also have a cur-
riculum that is too competitive and conse-
quently ostracises a large portion of their
students. In so many cases it is too easy to
avoid PE repeatedly as a student through
something as obviously deliberate as "I for-
got my sports gear for the seventh time in a
row",' Wood says.
So what specific programs and products
are being implemented by schools that are
focused on the newest approaches to PE?
Here are a few examples:
Virtual reality is being used in all the
most popular children's video games -- so
why not bring it into children's fitness?
An example is the X-Bikes by Trixter,
which are a very modern take on the
exercise bike. The bright yellow BMX-
style bikes have handle bars that move
like a real bike and a virtual reality screen
allows students to ride through the streets
of New York, London or even the French
Computer and video gaming is the fast-
est growing entertainment sector in the
world and new products are combining
exercise with computer gaming to cre-
ate exercise that's fun, challenging and
inclusive. Take the Xerdance product by
Xergames: similar to the popular arcade
dance platforms, these wireless dance
floor pads are a hit with kids and pack
away easily as required.
Hiking, walking -- boring! Many schools
are putting a clever twist on more com-
mon activities with great results. The
Nordic Academy Australia has seen a
huge increase in interest from schools
that are inviting them to run adventure-
based Nordic walking sessions as part of
a PE program or as an extra-curricular
activity. The gear, including specially
designed walking poles, gives the activ-
ity an instant 'cool' factor among kids.
We all know that children admire their
heroes, whether they're sports stars or
music gods. There are programs that
are using the appeal of influential indi-
viduals to educate children about healthy
lifestyles and get them moving as well.
Not all schools can afford to pay a
celebrity appearance fee, and that's why
HOPsports have created a series of work-
out videos that are projected onto a large
screen. Lessons are presented by celeb-
rities chosen for their ability to capture
children's attention. The roster of pre-
senters includes Olympians, Hollywood
celebrities and professional athletes.
Zumbatomic is a workout program
designed by Zumba Fitness specifically
for girls and boys aged four to 12 and
is an increasingly popular incursion or
regular program option. In addition to
being fu n, the classes teach fundamen-
tal concepts such as coordination, dis-
cipline, confidence and teamwork. The
program incorporates many of Zumba
Fitness' well-known Latin dance moves
while placing greater emphasis on con-
temporary urban styles that appeal to
kids, such as hip-hop and pop.
Not your traditional bat and ball game,
Speedminton is fast and fun so there's
no time to get bored! This high-energy
racquet game is easy to set up with sim-
ple rules, durable equipment and can be
played indoors or outdoors on any sur-
face. It's great for both conditioning and
Body Fusion 4 Kids are non-sports-
specific team-based activities. Body
Fusion is bringing the games kids of the
1970s and 80s used to play into the 21st
century. The emphasis is on participation
more than sports specificity. Body Fusion
4 Kids believes children need a reason to
participate; there has to be an end goal
that involves glory, praise and positive
reinforcement, regardless of the result.
They consult with schools on their in-
house PE programs.
Gecko is working with schools to run
incursion and excursion sessions includ-
ing bootcamps, mini-Olympic events and
obstacle courses just to name a few. They
compliment existing PE programs and
provide schools with something different.
Healthy fun is also creeping into the
school canteen. A great example of this
is Smooze, a new healthy ice cream treat
for kids. It uses fresh juices and purees,
doesn't contain cholesterol or saturated
animal fats, and is dairy and gluten free.
To explore the latest products and pro-
grams in school PE , visit the 2011 Australian
Fitness and Health Expo held at the Sydney
Convention and Exhibition Centre on April
15, 16 and 17. You can see all of the latest
interactive school fitness programs and prod-
ucts plus speak to experts who have helped
many schools establish modern fitness cen-
tres and design exciting incursion and excur-
sion programs. Visit ww w.fitnessexpo.com.
au for more information or to register.
Jon Perry is the director of the Australian
Fitness and Health Expo.
Photo courtesy of Zumbatomic.
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