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Diamonds Hearts Clubs and Spades Challenge

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This is a good fitness circuit for partners.  
Submitted by Robin Auld, Providence, Rhode Island.  Grades 3-8. 


The Diamonds, Hearts, Clubs, and Spades Challenge is a fun partner fitness circuit that has proven to be very popular with our students. It can also be extended over several months.

Finding Partners:
A deck of cards is used to help in the selection of teams and partners. Each student is given a playing card. All of the students with the same suit are on a team, either Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds, or Spades. The students find their exercise partners in the following manner – the players with the corresponding heart and club are partners and the players with the corresponding diamond and spade are partners. For example:

Ace of Hearts/Ace of Clubs Ace of Diamonds/Ace of Spades
Two of Hearts/Two of Clubs Two of Diamonds/Two of Spades
Three of Hearts/Three of Clubs, etc. Three of Diamonds/Three of Spades, etc.

The deck of cards is prepared in advance so that all of the students have a partner. If you have an uneven number of students, you can have a group of three players. For example, the King of Hearts, King of Clubs, and the King of Diamonds are a designated group of three players.

Our Fitness Circuit:
There are six different fitness activities in the Diamonds, Hearts, Clubs, and Spades Challenge. They include: push-ups, shuttle run, sprints, jump rope, crunches, and jogging. The six activities are set-up as shown on the diagram.

How We Do It:
In this activity, each pair selects a “Fitness Card.” The Fitness Cards offer six different fitness challenges. Prepare the Fitness Cards in advance, according to the areas of fitness you want to emphasize (example: cardiovascular endurance, upper body strength, agility, etc.). Each Fitness Card gives the students a challenging range of choices that encourage success. Make a set of 24 cards and place them face down in a pile. The following are examples of our Fitness Cards:

Push Ups: Skipping: Sprints:
5 points = 15 push ups 5 points = 5 laps 5 points = 2 build up sprints
3 points = 10 push ups 3 points = 3 laps 3 points = 1 build up sprint
1 point = 5 push ups 1 point = 1 lap 1 point = 2 full court sprints
Wall Sits: Shuttle Run: Crunches:
5 points = 15 wall sits 5 points = 5 runs 5 points = 15 crunches
3 points = 10 wall sits 3 points = 3 runs 3 points = 10 crunches
1 point = 5 wall sits 1 point = 1 run 1 point = 5 crunches

Use Music to Motivate! During this activity, we play the theme song from the movie “Rocky.” The activity can last from 10-18 minutes.

Student Determines Own Level:
After reading the card, each student determines his or her level of competition and the amount of points he or she wants to earn for the team. Partners getting a cardiovascular card (jogging or skipping) can do the activity at the same time. With the other activities (push ups, wall sits, etc.), one partner counts, while the other partner completes the stated activity. This is a built-in rest time for the students.

Recording Team Points:
Once both students are finished, they go to their respective scoreboards (taped to the wall next to the table with the Fitness Cards) and record their points.

Monitoring the Scores:
Since the students are “earning” points for their respective teams, we have found that having partners from two different teams helps to challenge the students and serves as a way to monitor the recording of points. The fitness card is placed back on the table and the partners select another card. Students continue as long as the “Rocky” theme music plays.

Further Explanation of Our Fitness Activities
Push Ups: At this activity station, the students can earn 1 point by doing 5 push ups, 3 points by doing 10 push ups, or 5 points by doing 15 push ups. Push ups must be done correctly. One partner counts while the other partner performs the push ups. Partners will then switch.

Skipping: Students use a short jump rope to skip around the perimeter marked by the cones. The students can earn 1 point by completing one lap, 3 points by doing 3 laps, or 5 points by doing 5 laps.

Sprints: Students earn points by doing 2 lengths of the marked area for 1 point. If they select to do one build up sprint (sometimes called “suicides”) they earn 3 points, and 2 build up sprints are 5 points. One partner watches while the other performs the sprints. Partners will then switch.

Wall Sits: At this activity station, the students can earn 1 point by doing 5 wall sits, 3 points by doing 10 wall sits, or 5 points by doing 15 wall sits. Wall sits are great exercises for the quads. One partner counts while the other partner performs the wall sits. Partners will then switch.

Shuttle Run: At this activity station, the students practice doing the shuttle run. One partner can use a stopwatch to time his or her partner in this event. Partners will then switch.

Example of the Club”s Scoreboard

During cool down stretches, students were asked who tried their best. Who could do even better next time? Who challenged themselves to do 5-point activities? We also discuss the satisfaction of doing an activity well and completing it correctly.

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