A brand new exercise programme for school children called Fitness4Life has been launched in Bristol.
The Fitness4Life programme is simple and easy to use by teachers and will engage, push and reward children whilst improving their health and fitness within the school environment.
Originally developed by Chris Sharman and Matt Roberts in London in 2013, Fitness4Life has recently been launched in Bristol by two UWE students, Marcus Carter and Jack Halls.
Last week I spent the morning at UWE for a Fitness4Life Invitational Programme Preview Day where I had the pleasure of meeting Marcus and Jack and learning more about Fitness4Life. This involved watching a presentation about Fitness4Life, having a go myself using the Fitness4Life programme on the computer and then some demonstrations of some of the Fitness4Life exercise challenges.
Here is a short film about my morning learning about Fitness4Life!
The aim of Fitness4Life is to encourage active lifestyle changes that will reduce the number of children who grow up to be obese due to low levels of fitness, low self-concept and poor life choices.
Fitness4Life is an exercise programme with a bit of a difference. As you will be aware, in recent years there has been huge media attention on the obesity levels in children in the UK. However, Marcus and Jack explained to me that Fitness4Life focusses not on obesity levels but rather on fitness levels since a child’s weight does not necessarily correlate with his or her fitness level.
For example, even if a child is of ‘normal’ weight they still might be very unfit. Fitness4Life tests that have been carried out on more than 800 school children have shown that while in some groups of children obesity levels were about 6%, the number of children who scored as unfit reached higher that 40%.
As well as increased physical fitness, there are other benefits for children. They will gain a greater level of self concept and self-esteem, plus their behaviour will improve, as will mental and academic performance.
From having a go myself at inputting date into the Fitness4Life computer programme, I can assure teachers that the Fitness4Life programme is simple and easy to use!
Marcus and Jack will come out to schools that wish to take part to provide initial teacher training about the programme, plus they will provide all lesson plans and input all the essential information into the computer programme. They will then provide ongoing support and training to teachers throughout.
The Fitness4Life daily activity sessions are all short and easy to fit in to a busy week, working well with school schedules. Some of the Fitness4Life activity sessions include Banana tag and paper running. All are simple and fun.
Plus, because Fitness4Life does not focus on team sports it therefore makes it accessible for all children. The programme also enables every single child to be good at one of the challenges on the programme so will therefore boost confidence rather than dampen self-esteem. I relate to this as I was a non-sporty child at school and found team sports particularly difficult.
Here are some pictures of some of the Fitness4Life challenges, kindly demonstrated by students of UWE!
The programme is deigned to cover a complete school year and varies according to the school year group. Tests cover a range of fitness aspects such as flexibility, strength and cardiovascular ability. Children are tested on a monthly/half-termly basis and each score is translated into each child’s personal “Fitness Index”.
However, scores are shared with each child individually and the only “public” score will be the average score for the class as a whole. Thus, a child’s self-esteem and confidence will not be knocked and the class will instead work together as a team, aiming to improve class scores at each 6-week test. All scores are logged so as to enable the programme to produce class averages, etc.
The first 6-weeks of the Fitness4Life programme are free. If you are a teacher and are interested in your school taking part on the Fitness4Life programme or if you are a parent who thinks that Fitness4Life would be beneficial to your child’s school, you can find out more by visiting http://fitness4life.training/.
Or, you can emailing Marcus directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitness4Life Bristol will be inviting schools to another training day in January – look out for your invitation.
From meeting Marcus and Jack it was clear to me that they are both passionate about Fitness4Life and are excited to be introducing it to Bristol schools. I really like Fitness4Life and the concept behind it and hope that lots of Bristol schools take part!