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Conditioning workout

Jeffrey Antenore, for the Register





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I teach high school Physical Education, among other classes, at my school. I enjoy being outdoors, during the last two periods of the day, after spending the rest of the school day in a portable classroom. The classroom is climate-controlled, certainly, and quite comfortable, but there’s just something special about being in the out-of-doors, here in Northern California. We’re in the middle of a quite serious drought, this winter. The temperatures have been hovering around the upper 60’s for the past month, and the skies are clear and blue.
I normally try to get my classes in shape, after the spate of school holidays from November through December. Before this time, my classes run 1.5 miles per day –three days per week-, in addition to instruction in assorted sports, afterward. The run is timed (4:00 per lap), and graded.
We start out on my school’s football field. It is situated in a stadium, and is artificial turf. It’s actually quite comfortable, and I could see myself catching a snooze there –on the 50 yard line-, if it weren’t for the fact that this facility is in almost constant use, seven days per week.

The class lines up on the nearest goal line. They then perform ten push ups. I have them get up, walk ten yards, and perform ten sit ups. We do this so that the class gets in three sets, each, of ten push ups and ten sit ups. The last set of push ups and sit ups is for as many as the students can handle for one minute. The California Fitness Exam’s standard is a two minute evolution for push ups and sit ups. I try to get them to think about this at this time. We have the better part of three months to prepare for this exam.

The California Fitness Exam tests the student in a one mile run. Since we normally run 1.5 mies, I train my classes back into running form by running with them. These runs are normally situated in one of the local parks (which lie adjacent to my school’s campus), or across several outdoor baseball, soccer, and rugby fields. I normally run about a half mile with them, stop at a turnaround point, and check off students as they pass me. The faster ones pass me on the way up to the checkpoint and normally run the rest of the way back. The slower runners pass my checkoff point, and then tend to walk back to the starting line.

I start to walk back to the starting line, after the last group of students begin their trek back to the starting line. We aren’t all runners, so I don’t grade this conditioning evolution . I tell the students, however, to stay in front of me and to not let me pass them. I remind them that I’m wearing service boots, and jeans, and that I’m over 55 years old. I tell them that there’s NO reason for a senior citizen to outperform them in ANY contest of physical fitness or human performance. All of the students beat me to the finish line.

We then walk to one of the quad areas on campus, and I have my class rehydrate. If the day is one in which we have longer periods, we then play a sport for about 15 minutes. If it’s a typical one hour, per period, day, then the class gets ready to head to the locker rooms to change out of their P.E. uniforms. This type of circuit training, plus the fact that our post-holiday conditioning runs tend to be on either grass or asphalt/packed dirt, keeps things interesting for the students, and facilitates the increase of the students’ overall physical conditioning, over a moderate period of time. The students seem to enjoy racing me, and –in some cases- interacting with me (the stragglers, especially) in this environment. I also enjoy the opportunity to get to learn more about my students and to run around outside with our young people every day school’s in session.

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