The Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance held its annual summer conference at Apollo High School Monday and Tuesday.
Over 110 educators from across the state registered to participate in sessions that encouraged student engagement in fitness and healthy lifestyles.
Apollo physical education teachers Blake Warren and Holly Johnson presented two sessions that are electives they teach as part of the Apollo curriculum. Warren said one of the reasons they teach CrossFit to students is to provide students the opportunity to know what they are doing when they walk into a community gym in the future.
During the CrossFit for Students presentation, Johnson demonstrated how they run a CrossFit class at Apollo and how they also integrate it into the required freshman PE class and focus on the elements, body movement and alignment.
“Security, safety, and comfort are always at the forefront,” Johnson told the teachers.
Johnson and Blake said the success of the CrossFit elective is reflected in the fact they added a third section to students during scheduling. Warren said that in two years, the class has given 750 students the tools for functional movement.
After describing what a class period looks like, Johnson and Warren put teachers through what students in the class would do while telling stories of student success and reminding colleagues that CrossFit is “infinitely scalable” to meet the needs of students at any age.
While teachers were actively participating in a demonstration, Johnson and Warren described strategies that worked best for them, including variations of movements to keep kids feeling comfortable and letting students work with a partner or in a group because it provides an opportunity for rest and also a sense of community.
Johnson said that the CrossFit program has been part of the PE department curriculum for four years and that she has taught yoga and pilates as an elective for 10 years.
One of the reasons the classes remain popular is because the students will soon be adults and she said she wants them to be able to walk into the community and go to fitness classes because they will not all be involved in a team sport.
“We are letting them know they can move on with fitness and build on what they have learned here,” Johnson said. “It widens their fitness scope.”
Johnson told the participants how Apollo has a large population of English Language Learner students and that those students thrive in these classes because the classes create a community, celebrate growth and build confidence.
Teaching a foundation in mental and emotional health through fitness is something Johnson and Warren agree is the most important thing they teach.
“Every school is different in dynamics and space as well as what the teacher’s passion is [for classes taught in PE],” Johnson said. “I am just glad to show this is what we do [in our PE classes].”
Other sessions included active participation and demonstrations in ultimate Frisbee, fitness camping, PaddleZlam, archery and universal strength.
AHS teacher Tyler Matthews presented Monday afternoon, sharing insight about implementing a universal strength training program. Matthews was recently named Kentucky Strength Coach of the Year by the National High School Strength and Conditioning Association.
This conference features health and physical education teachers actively participating in demonstrations and learning experiences such as ultimate disc (Frisbee), PaddleZlam, archery, and much more.