By: John Crosby, Fitness Instructor
At the high school level, the importance of fitness training through use of the weight room should be strongly emphasized. Fitness classes offered to students in grades 8-12 is a strong trend in education today. Many classes are in session 5 days a week, with an emphasis on weight training 4 of those days, separated by an active recovery day in the middle. Several scientific studies in recent years support the idea that fitness groups during the school day can greatly enhance the learning abilities of a student in the classroom. Alongside this, athletes see great improvement on a weekly basis for their respective sports.
The first thing that is emphasized in weight training classes is safety. Students are taught the importance of correct exercise form, as well as weight room etiquette. Once these practices are effectively managed, students will demonstrate the ability to warm-up the body through pre-workout exercises. These exercises are done for both short term and long term injury prevention. For example, rotator cuff strengthening is a point of emphasis for upper body days that involve pressing from the chest and shoulders. Active dynamic warmup exercises are done at the beginning of each workout as a way to prepare the body to be at its best for the workout to come.
Once the workout is in session, a goal should be to improve several aspects of the student’s performance. These include, muscular strength, muscular endurance, explosion, mobility and flexibility. Some workouts are more focused on a strength building/ low repetition approach, while others are primarily focused on a high repetition/ endurance approach. There is an equal amount of targeting the anterior chain, as well as the posterior chain of the body. Each student should be pushed to reach their full physical potential regardless of the focal point on a given day.
The end goal of a fitness department at any academic institution is to teach and promote how to live a healthy/active lifestyle after high school. If a student can take any of the ideas that are taught during their time in a fitness class and apply them to their life outside of school, then the instructor’s goal has been accomplished.