Some PE programs across the state of Texas are ditching dodgeball in favor of a more functional fitness approach, and providing students with a chance to sweat and build healthy lifestyle habits in the process.
Functional Fitness, which has students slamming sandbags, jumping rope and doing burpees, is a new strength and conditioning program approved by the Texas Education Agency. The program is currently offered in 12 districts in the state, but that number is only expected to grow as interest soars, both among students and other districts.
Karin Klemm, health and physical education coordinator for McKinney ISD, implemented the program in her district, and has spoken to other districts who’ve called to ask about the program.
The McKinney ISD program is popular enough that it plans to offer a higher-level course at the high school level for students interested in an elective credit. Students like the program because it offers non-athletes a chance to fulfill their physical education requirement off the field or court.
“It’s important to have this as something that allows them to build their physical fitness if you’re not an athlete,” Klemm told Dallas News.
The curriculum is provided by Austin-based GenerationFit, which also offers education services and classroom support for PE teachers.
Laurie Gotcher, who in addition to being co-owner of GenerationFit also owns two CrossFit gyms, developed the program. Gotcher said she noticed students coming to her gym to earn their physical education credit, and that’s where she got the idea.
“I learned the kids were hungry for real fitness – measurable, accountable fitness,” Gotcher told Dallas News.
Students in the program can choose the intensity of their workout by modifying a particular exercise. They’re encouraged to log workout times and track their progress.
“That means the focus is on them now,” Klemm said. “It’s not about athletics. It’s about how can I improve myself.”