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Functional Fitness

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An fun fitness circuit activity for grades K-5 using homemade equipment.
Submitted by Reggie Daigle and Wendy Zolner, Latham, New York.


“Functional fitness” is a term that many fitness experts are using to describe a more common sense approach to personal fitness. Functional fitness refers to the realization that individuals (adults and children) need to develop physical fitness that is purposeful.

By recognizing that the purpose and need for physical fitness varies from person to person, students (hopefully) will be encouraged to examine their own personal reasons for developing and maintaining fitness.

Students should be encouraged to maintain appropriate levels of fitness that address:

1.) heart-risk factors (percentage of body fat and cardiovascular fitness),

2.) having adequate muscle tone,

3.) participating in physical activity to lose or maintain their weight, and

4.) staying fit to look and feel better.

To this end, we have developed a series of strength and muscular endurance stations using homemade equipment. We feel that our stations work well because they are easy to organize, don”t cost much, and allow the children to formulate ideas so they can create their own strength programs at home.

Our Station Exercises

Station #1 – Chair Dips: Using two chairs, the student places his or her hands on each of the chairs. The feet are extended forward with the knees together. Slowly lower the body until the elbows approach a 90-degree angle and push up to the starting position.

Station #2 – Incline and Decline Push-Ups: Using a chair, place two hands on the chair (incline push-ups) with the body straight. Perform the push-up using the chair to support the hands. Using a chair, the feet are placed on the chair (decline push-ups) with the body straight. Perform the push-up using the chair to support the feet.

Station #3 – Chlorox Bottle Bicep Curls: Fill the bottles with water for weight. Grasp the handles to hold the bottles and perform biceps curls.

Station #4 – Forearm and Wrist Strength: Using a wooden dowel, attach a rope about 2-3 feet long to the center of the stick. The other end is tied to a chlorox bottle filled with about a pound of sand. By rolling the wrist, the rope shortens and a terrific forearm workout occurs.

Station #5 – Dead Lifts: Using an old car tire, the student squats down, grabs the rim and lifts the tire safely several times. Help the students to use their legs and hips, not the lower back to lift the tire correctly.

All of these exercises are taught with the focus on proper technique. The amount of weight used should be varied according to the fitness levels and individual body sizes.

We also believe that it is important to focus on having enough repetitions so that muscle fatigue occurs. This usually means two to three sets of eight to ten repetitions for the chlorox bottle dumbells and two to three sets of six to eight repetitions for the chair dips and incline push-ups.

In our school district, we use the President”s Council Physical Fitness Test. We believe that these exercises help with the scores for upper body fitness, especially when the students get in the habit of doing fitness activities each night.

So… the next time you”re watching your favorite television program, why not do a bit of fitness improvement during the commercials!

One Response to “Functional Fitness”

  1. Amy Holtman February 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    I love this idea! Very simple, but will allow students to realize they have all the tools they need at home to build their fitness. :)

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