6 Motivating Fitness Ideas for PE – Part 2


Motivating students and guiding them on a path of lifelong fitness has become a top priority for physical education teachers all over the world.  We provide unique opportunities for students to learn about the benefits of exercise and implement movement activities which are challenging, varied, and ultimately FUN.  Through trial and error, research, and creative minds, my team and I discovered numerous routines that have been proven successful for our students who range from first grade through 6th grade.  In a previous post called PE -Top 5 Motivating Exercise Routines for Students, I described five different activities I regularly do with my students.  I would like to share six more ideas as a follow-up, which you can hopefully put into effect with equal success.

1. Partner Sprinting Points Challenge

I love this activity because it gives students a chance to work cooperatively with a partner while developing a strategy for success. The workout consists of two rounds each two minutes.  There is a one-minute recovery between each round.

Set up four rows of cones.  Each row has a different point value.  Row one equals 1 point, row two equals 2 points, row three equals 3 points, and row four equals 4 points (you can increase the value of each row depending on the grade level).

Students spread out with their partners along the start line.  Partner 1 is the leader for the first 2 minutes.  Whichever row of cones he sprints to, his partner then has to sprint to the same row.  So if he selects row 2, then the partner must run to row 2 as well.  This goes on for 2 minutes.  Partners add their points together as they accumulate them.  After 2 minutes, the partners recover (1 minute) and discuss their strategy for the next round. Specifically, what could they do differently to increase their total score during the next 2 minutes when the other partner becomes the leader?

2. Partner Interval Sprints

This is one of my favorite routines for my students.  It can be done on a track, in a gym, or around a circle of cones on a field.

Each set of partners spreads out around the perimeter of the running area so they’re standing next to each other but away from the other sets of partners.  For four minutes, each partner takes turns sprinting for 10 seconds (sometimes we do 20-second intervals). On the whistle, partner one sprints first.  On the next whistle, partner one stops to recover while partner two immediately begins sprinting for the next 10 seconds.  This continues for four minutes.

3. Simple AMRAPs (as many rounds as possible) with Obstacles

We use AMRAPs as both instant activities and as a main fitness routine.  Below is a simple example of one of the many AMRAPs we use.  The objective is for the students to try and complete as many rounds as possible in a given amount of time.  Our students are further motivated by the addition of obstacles to the lap.  Thanks to my colleague Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin) for the idea.

4. Steppers and/or Line Interval Training

Using steps in my PE classes has become a staple.  I’m fortunate to have enough steps for each student.  However, prior to having steps, my students would do similar workouts using the lines on the gym floor.  Below are a couple interval training workouts using steps and/or lines.  They are two examples of the unlimited possibilities for this type of workout. For any interval workouts, I use the Tabata Timer Application on my Ipad and phone.

Speaking of steppers!  Give students a chance to create their own exercises.

5. 30 Second Elimination Tag

If you’re going to play tag games, they should almost always be a non-elimination tag game.  If a student gets tagged then there should be a way for her to get back into the game.  However, 30-second elimination tag is an exception.

Divide the class into groups of four or five.  Each group takes turns being the taggers. For 30 seconds the first group attempts to tag as many students as possible.  When tagged, students walk around the perimeter of the play area until 30 seconds is up.  After 30 seconds, students have a chance to recover.  During this time we count up the number of students who were tagged.  This is the score for group number one.  Group two becomes the taggers for the next 30 seconds.  The game continues until each group has a chance to be taggers.  This is an incredible workout for every fitness level and athletic ability.  Thank you Brian Balocki (@brianbalocki), my colleague, for the idea.

6. Hula Hoop Fitness Timer

This is one of my favorite fitness activities for any grade level.  Students simply spin their hula hoop and perform an exercise until the hoop stops spinning.  For younger grade levels, I post different exercises on a whiteboard for students to choose.  Sometimes I give the students a chance to work with a partner.  They alternate spinning the hoop and choosing the exercise.  I can also assess upper-grade level students’ knowledge of muscle groups by asking them to choose exercises targeting specific muscle groups. Thank you, Coach Laura (@PECoachLaura), my colleague, for this idea.


As stated in previous posts, finding creative ways to motivate our students is an ongoing challenge.  We need to work together to share ideas.  Now I’d like to learn about yours.  Please post your motivating exercise routines in the comments section!  Let’s work together to keep our students motivated and fit!

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The EXOTIC FRUIT AND VEGGIE CHALLENGE! Your Students and Parents Will LOVE It!


Discovering creative ways to keep students motivated for fitness is paramount for a physical education teacher.  Mixing up routines throughout the year with a variety of movement challenges and activities to boost students’ strength, endurance, and healthy habits is a must. This year, to complement our PE program, my team and I have implemented take-home challenges where students and their families are encouraged to engage in a list of five exercises each month.  They are given a calendar to log the number of days they complete each of the five exercises (see Fall Family Fitness Challenge).  Each month the list of exercises change.

Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge

Click Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge 2017 for an editable copy of the challenge.

Along with fitness challenges, we’ve also presented our students with nutrition challenges.  One of our most successful was the Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge. Our goal was to encourage our 1st-6th-grade students to step outside of their nutritional comfort zones.  We encouraged them to explore their grocery stores or farmer’s markets and choose one new, healthy fruit or vegetable.  Maybe they would discover a new staple for their dinner table.

We were immediately inundated with photographs of students of all ages eating exotic fruits and vegetables, many of which were new to us as well.  We received emails from parents thanking us for the challenge.  Students were spending their weekends in the produce aisles of their local supermarkets, frequenting weekend farmer’s markets and international markets encountering the rarest fruits and vegetables.

Selecting Buddha’s Hand from an International Market

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that students were trying and enjoying the new foods.  They were spending quality time with their families and sharing their new discoveries with their friends.

Enjoying Dragon Fruit

Even I became obsessed with the Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge trying chayote, persimmon, watermelon radish greens, dragon fruit, and many more.

Me Trying Dragon Fruit

Many of the Pictures Sent in By Families

I highly recommend take-home challenges for students of all ages.  In particular, the Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge has proven to be a fun, motivating challenge enjoyed not only by students but whole families.  I personally enjoyed making connections with my students outside of the gym.  On more than one occasion I would discover on my desk, exotic fruit or vegetable that one of my students wanted me to try.  It’s a challenge too delicious not to try!

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Scooter Fitness – 11 Exercises Using Scooter Boards


Scooter boards have been around forever.  I was recently discussing with my students how the original scooters were made from wood with casters similar to the ones we use today, only much smaller.   My PE teacher would wheel out several scooter racks, each consisting of a half dozen scooters stacked up one on top of another.  We would explore different pathways while sitting, kneeling, and on our bellies.  Sometimes we would have relay races and play scooter line soccer.  Everyone loved the scooter boards…until the scooter tipped and pinched their fingers.  OUCH!

Today, I still remain a big supporter of scooters in PE class.  I even share many of the activities I learned from my PE teachers.  However, I also like to use scooters as a motivating tool for fitness.  In an effort to keep fitness fresh and exciting, I along with my students, have created several exercises to enhance flexibility, endurance, and strength using scooter boards.  Most, if not all the exercises are “pinch free”, meaning students won’t crush their fingers.  If you’re a PE teacher, you know what I’m talking about.

Vintage Scooter

Scooter Kayak Tag

I started playing this game when my students kept getting their fingers pinched under the scooter. Instead of holding the handles of the scooter, each student holds a noodle, eliminating the chance of the scooter tipping onto their fingers.  In Scooter Kayak Tag, the noodle represents kayak paddle. I pick one of the colors to be it (purple in the video). All students pretend to paddle their kayak as they flee the purple paddles. If tagged kayakers go the exercise zone to complete any one of the exercises you’ll see below. In this case, the exercise is a knee tuck as seen in the video. Once the exercise is completed, the student re-enters the water and continues the game.


Scooter Knee Tucks

If you are having trouble viewing the videos click Scooter Fitness to access a direct link to the scooter playlist on my Youtube channel.

Scooter Crossing

Scooter Push and Pull

Scooter Noodle Spin

Scooter Crab Tuck

Scooter Inch Worm

Scooter Crab Leg Circles

Scooter Plank Exchange

Scooter Pushup and Tuck

Scooter Around the Clock Pushups

Scooter Action with 1st Grade

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