Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Not your old phys ed

Students learn ways of staying fit forever

Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Fifteen-year-old Kenysha Boyd always said she wanted to get in shape. But until Fairfield Senior High School added Lifetime Skills class to its physical education offerings last month, Kenysha never took any steps to become more fit.

        “I said I wanted to get in shape, but I never did it,” said the Fairfield Township teen. “This made me. It's fun, and I do get a good cardiovascular workout.”

        Kenysha is one of nearly 50 students to sign up for the nine-week class. It was made possible by a partnership between the high school and Mercy Hospital's new Healthplex, behind Mercy Hospital Fairfield.

        “The reality is not every kid is interested in team or individual sports,” said physical education teacher Laura Stammer. “Here, they learn skills needed to develop a fitness routine they can use the rest of their lives.”

        Statistics show that today's children are less fit than children in the 1970s. Although children eat about the same number of calories, they exercise about 25 percent less.

        Today's typical 10-year-old weighs 11 pounds more than the same child did in 1973. The percent of overweight children increased from less than 6 percent in 1963 to nearly 12 percent in 1991, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

        Each student was tested by the Healthplex staff. An individual fitness plan was then prepared, based on the student's height, weight and body composition. Students are taught how to properly exercise and use fitness equipment including rowing machines, stair climbers and weights.

        “We're trying to open their eyes so they understand the bigger picture of health,” said student teacher Melanie Bacon. “In the classroom, they're getting the theory, the vocabulary, the why.”

        Three days a week, the students are bused to the Healthplex. One day they work out on the exercise equipment; another day they are in the pool doing aqua jogging or aerobics. The third day is left open for activities that might include tennis or aerobics. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they remain at the high school — one day in the classroom; the other in the gymnasium.

        “Some kids in physical education are not motivated,” Ms. Stammer said. “These kids, they can't wait to get here and work toward their goals.”

        Added Kenysha: “I'd like to take it again.”


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