Leading by Example: Guiding our Kids to Lifelong Fitness

Children are remarkably perceptive. Today, the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do” is being pushed to the proverbial back-burner with parents and educators striving to lead children by example on a journey to lifelong fitness.

Our PE team recently witnessed this as we led an assembly at our school called Fitness Time Together. The entire school community including students, faculty, and staff were invited to the gym to participate in a group fitness routine and take part in a discussion about leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Here’s the overview:

  • Coach Brian opened the assembly by talking about the importance of being active and eating healthily.
  • Coach Austin followed with a 4-minute high intensity interval-training workout designed for our students. Picture this: over 700 adults and students all working out together in our gym. An incredible sight!




  • After the workout, it was my turn to close the assembly.


I first asked all the adults to raise their hands if they planned to exercise sometime during the day (excluding what we just did). To my delight, practically every adult in the room proudly raised their hand. I then asked the students to raise their hands if their parents exercised. I had just hit the fitness jackpot. A sea of hands immediately reached for the sky. I instructed the students to look around and notice all the hands, emphasizing how many adults in their lives are taking care of themselves by exercising. I especially wanted the students to notice that if all their teachers and their parents are exercising, then it must be important, and that they were most likely exercising to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Then it dawned on me during the assembly at my school, that as much as we need to discuss healthy living with kids, it is equally, if not more important, to lead by example. If our children see us exercising regularly and making healthy food choices then they are living in a healthy environment. Within this culture, healthy living will more likely become habit. I recalled my own childhood when my mom refused to buy “sugar cereals” or pop-tarts with frosting. She was constantly reading the labels on everything she bought to ensure we would keep our teeth and grow up to be healthy adults. Now that I have my own children, you’ll never find “sugar cereals” or pop-tarts with frosting in our pantry. Lesson learned mom!

At a time when technology has the potential to dominate our day, it is our obligation to encourage children to go outside in the fresh air, and take care of themselves.

As PE teachers, my team and I preach fitness and try to keep our program chock full of fresh ideas to help maintain a positive level of motivation. Along with parents, we encourage our students to seize opportunities to simply play. Play outside during recess, join school-wide running programs or teams, and enjoy unstructured play at home.

Last week before leaving work, I received a call from my 10-year old. He wanted to know if I would go for a run with him when I got home. Proud Papa Alert! Of course I’ll run with you. Later my older son and daughter wanted to play tennis. So far, mission accomplished. My wife and I lead healthy, active lives, and realize that how our children craft their character and lifestyle is firmly determined by the example we provide.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more of what I have to say about physical education and keeping kids in motion, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

A PE Conference at YOUR School? Wisdom Surrounds You!

Some of the teachers in attendance at our first Keeping Kids in Motion conference

In 2011, my colleagues and I decided to host a mini PE conference at our school. We invited PE professionals from surrounding schools to come and take part in an event we called Keeping Kids in Motion. The idea was to provide a no-cost opportunity for teachers to share lessons with each other based on a predetermined theme. For the first year, my colleagues and I decided to feature cooperative activities.

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Cover to our 2011 lesson packet

Instead of paying a registration fee, guests only needed to email us 2 lesson ideas based on cooperation prior to the event. We would compile the collection of lesson plans into a packet to give each attendee upon leaving the conference.   Each teacher would also be required to teach at least one of their lessons during the conference. The other teachers, of course, would be the students.

With 21 guests from 12 schools in attendance, our first Keeping Kids in Motion was a success. Each of us shared and discussed several lessons while brainstorming ideas on how to adapt them for different ages and learners. At the conclusion of the gathering each teacher was chock full of fresh ideas ready to incorporate into their curriculum.  My colleagues and I immediately began brainstorming ideas for the future of Keeping Kids in Motion.

The next 3 conferences followed a very similar format. We’d meet in a conference room for brief round table discussion over a continental breakfast before heading to the gym for lesson sharing. The themes for the following years were:

2012 Dynamic Lesson to enhance our Sports Units

2013 Movement from Start to Finish – keeping students moving throughout the class

2014 The Best of the Best, which focused on each teacher’s favorite overall physical education games. These were games that every PE teacher should have in their arsenal.

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Attendees received a hard copy and a digital copy of all the lessons

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Keeping Kids in Motion quickly became a beneficial and cost effective resource for my colleagues and me. We now have a network of like-minded professionals who can reach out to each other for ideas and lessons when needed.

Take advantage of all the wisdom surrounding us! Build a network of peers who share a passion for enhancing their teaching craft! Provide a NO-Cost outlet for teachers to learn and share from each other. KEEP IT LOCAL! It worked for us and it could work for you.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more of what I have to say about physical education and keeping kids in motion, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

A Blast from the Past: Reliving Gym Class from the 1980s


For Halloween, my two fellow PE teachers and I wanted to dress up for our school’s annual costume contest.  We wanted to enter the “team” category but couldn’t nail down a theme.  That is, until I saw the video below for the Goldbergs TV show.  

This gem of a clip, inspired us to portray PE teachers from the early 1980’s.  We crafted our costumes based on our own memories of PE teachers we experienced growing up.  I personally searched the internet and was shocked that I could still find the original Bike brand polyester shorts that my high school teacher wore religiously.  The shorts even had the button strap on top, and their trademark tiny pockets that, today would be ideal for a fit bit zip, but I think our teachers may have just had an emergency quarter for a payphone.  Unfortunately the only available sizes were nowhere small enough for the classic 80s fit so I had to settle for the next best thing, Wilson. Pointless pockets were there but no button strap. I later found the 5-panel foam/mesh trucker’s cap fashioned by my aforementioned grade school teacher on days we had PE outdoors.  Didn’t every teacher don the 3-striped tube socks hiked up to the knees?  Of course.  So, along with my aviator glasses, a stop watch, a pair of very white sneakers, and a red playground ball, my costume was complete.  PE Teacher:  1982.  My colleagues and I immediately drew a lot of attention, as expected.  Unexpected was the array of reactions from parents, teachers, and students throughout the day.

Here are some of the comments:

  1. Wow!  I had a PE teacher just like that growing up.
  2. Can I tell you how much I hated PE growing up?
  3. Your shorts aren’t short enough for the 80’s.
  4. I am still haunted by the bruises I received playing dodge ball.
  5. Why DID they wear those shorts?
  6. I loved PE.  I miss those days.
  7. Are you kidding me with that outfit?
  8. Can we play dodge ball right now?
  9. What are you supposed to be?
  10. Or one of my favorites:  The sound of awkward, uneasy laughter.

Number 9 was the common response from our 1st-6th grade students, usually coupled by either a confusing or disgusted look. In fact, late in the day a first grade student asked, “Why are you still wearing that?”  Poor thing was frightened. Sorry guys!

To be honest, there were as many people who reminisced on their time in PE and shared stories of physical educators who were kind and caring while promoting healthy habits.

We truly enjoyed traveling back to the past and listening to the countless stories from our colleagues and parents regarding their experiences in “gym class” as it was often called.  It made me wonder how my present day and former students will remember me years down the road.  Hopefully, as fondly as I recall my elementary school gym teacher growing up.  He was funny, challenging, and very creative!  Thanks Mr. Meilinger.

As a side note, I now realize why PE teachers wore the polyester shorts.  They are SO comfortable!  If they make a come back, I’m in.  Let me know about your childhood Gym Class experiences…

The Goldbergs: Sneak Peek.YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2015.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more of what I have to say about physical education and keeping kids in motion, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

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