Ready For Remote – Modifying Movements

Ready For Remote – Modifying Movements

When Covid hit in March, teachers and coaches scrambled to make working out at home fun and challenging. At PLT4M, we were right there with you! 

Different ideas popped up for creative ways students could use backpacks, broomsticks, milk jugs, and other household objects to make training and exercising at home MORE difficult. 

Because it was spring, many students already had months of fitness and training education under their belts. MORE made sense for most students. 

Back To School

Although school is going to feel VERY different this year given Covid, the same ‘back to school’ considerations still exist. What does that mean for most Physical Education teachers when it comes to a new school year? 

1) Most students will have no experience in foundational elements of fitness. 

Each year, a new wave of students come in with essentially no idea how to properly perform things like the squat, hinge, lunge, press, and pull. We all can envision a group of students squatting for the first time with knees going in every different, backs rounded, and a variety of different interpretations of what a full range of motion looks like. 

And that is okay! We know that a robust introduction to fitness is needed for them! They will still run into some problems along the way! 

2) Students who had made progress the year before took the summer off and now look like they have never been in your class, let alone a PE class before. 

As much progress we make in any subject, summer is a dangerous time for students to either do nothing or go back to bad habits when it comes to form or technique. Let’s take your students accomplishing the hinge finally. What was nothing short of a breakthrough the year before, has all but been erased from their mental and physical memory. 

Again, that is also okay! We know that students need a review, and we can dedicate time to going back over the basics. Hopefully, it clicks quicker for this group, having already made progress in years or semesters past. 

Fixing Faults At Home 

When in a traditional school setting, we can often SEE many of these faults or problems unfolding in front of us, and give cues and modifications to help address them in real-time. Now transitioning to remote, this set of challenges becomes particularly unique at the beginning of the year because we cannot be there to give those helpful physical and visual cues. 

So when covering the basics of foundational fitness and knowing students are at home not getting the same types of feedback, we must get creative! 

Let’s look at three common challenges students run into when either learning or performing foundational movements and ways they can use households or their space to succeed. 

The Squat – Squatting below parallel: 

While the last thing we look for students to do when perfecting the air squat (after foot contact, knees tracking toes, and lumbar curve maintained), it is probably the hardest for students to know and feel if they are doing right. They either are afraid of falling on their butt, lack the mobility or strength to achieve a full range of motion, or could quite possibly just think they are doing it correctly and have no clue they are doing a quarter squat. 

Squatting to a target is one of the simplest ways for a student to receive ‘feedback’ from an object and to know where they are going. Encourage students to use household targets that they can work towards tapping their butt to, giving them an idea of how low they can go. Watch this helpful video to remember we are not asking them to lose tension and completely relax on the object, but instead use it to simply ‘tap.’

The Elevated Push-Up 

While commonly assigned, the push-up is probably one of the most challenging bodyweight movements for students and adults alike. Especially within a workout, larger sets or quantity can make it nearly impossible for most to stay consistent with proper form and technique without a modification. 

Elevate the push-up! Although doing knee push-ups is an option, teachers have often leaned towards students working through an elevated push-up. Why? Elevating the push-up gives a broader range of differentiation for students. While some may only need a small elevation to achieve the push-up, others may need to start higher and work their way down over time. 

The best part about this is that the objects you can use to elevate a push-up are everywhere! Check out this video from our Remote Fitness Program, outlining a way students can use the back of a couch to modify their push-up! 

Creative Cardio 

Lastly, let’s take a look at cardio. Cardio, while not a foundational movement in the broadest terms, is something that we often try to insert into different training routines. 

We want to help students find ways to elevate their heart rate, and in the spring and summer could often encourage students to get outside. And while that encouragement is still the case, as certain parts of the country get colder this fall and winter, getting creative with our cardio is important. 

And while the different options for cardio might seem obvious to some, it is prudent of us as educators and adults to know where our different students might be exercising. Not everyone has access to a flight of stairs they can use, a stationary machine in the basement, or big open space to run in circles inside. No matter the area that a student might have, we can help steer them towards finding a fit they can do comfortably and safely. Check out our creative cardio tip video here:

Check out the resources available to Physical Education teachers and students within PLT4M!

Context Is Key 

In the hopes of preparing our students to be fit for life, not actually getting to work in person with them is challenging. But, it also presents a unique teaching and learning opportunity that we otherwise would not have had. 

Our goal within fitness education is to equip students with the skills to be ‘fit for life.’ 

After graduating, many students will come across times where they will be personally tasked with options of either exercising at home or not exercising at all. What better time to learn some of the most sustainable, safe, and effective exercise options at home than with their Physical Education program during this unique time.

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