Class Spotlight: Sports Conditioning

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This trimester, six Eagle Rock students are enrolled in a 10-week class named Sports Conditioning. Instructed by Human Performance Center Adjunct Instructor Christ Iafrati and our 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Science & Math Chelsea Ehret, this class focuses on helping students develop and implement their own individualized workout plans. They’re also learning the physiology behind athletic conditioning and nutrition.

Successfully completing this 10-week class qualifies students for a ‘Creating Healthy Life Choices’ Power Standard. (For more on Power Standards, please read The Role of Power Standards in this Trimester’s Class Offerings.) That’s because this class combines content from biology, physical education, and statistics, it additionally qualifies students to receive additional experience and points required for graduation.

As an interdisciplinary class, students split time between the Aikido Dojo — located within our on-campus Human Performance Center (HPC) for the fitness component — and on the HPC stage for the traditional classroom component.

In the Dojo, students work out using weight machines, cardio equipment, and the Aikido mats. During these times, they’re engage in a variety of workouts that are meaningful to them, such as high-intensity interval training, yoga, Pilates, and resistance training.

Additionally, students have routine times where they have fitness testing to measure how much their plans are supporting them in reaching their fitness objectives, which are personalized to whatever students find important to them. They range from holding a plank for a certain period of time to how fast students can complete a 2.5-mile run.

During the traditional classroom component, Ehret and Iafrati spend time supporting students in learning about the human body and assisting them in completing their daily data logs that record information such as heart rates, quality of sleep, and emotional wellbeing. With this information, the students and instructors work with statistics in order to understand trends in their data and interpret what it means.

As the students’ progress through the class, they will gradually take more ownership of their fitness plans and adapt them to the objectives they refine over time. Whether it is a performance-based objective, such as being able to deadlift a certain weight, or a sensory one, like feeling more energetic, students attain the practice and skill levels necessary to secure these objectives, thus taking this learning beyond their time at Eagle Rock.

To date, students and staff members say they have learned much in from participating in the class.One student told me has become self-sufficient in creating his own workout plan and is placing greater value on different aspects of his health, such as physical fitness and emotional wellbeing. He also said the class has played a major role in helping him see health in a more comprehensive manner with many moving parts.

The staff at Eagle Rock is committed to continuous improvement in its teaching practices. Ehret, the 2019/2020 Science and Math Instructional Fellow, describes this experience as greatly beneficial in helping her find ways to make a physical education class accessible for all students through a student-designed learning process. Additionally, she has found a lot of value in identifying effective ways to facilitate a class that has both a classroom and fitness component.

She said that, as a novice teacher, working alongside a veteran teacher like Iafrati has supported her in experimenting and facilitating different lesson plans and instructional methods. Because here at Eagle Rock, instructional specialists and fellows are learning much, right alongside our students.

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About the Author: Travis Burhart is the 2019/2020 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. Prior to his fellowship, Travis studied and earned an undergraduate degree in environment and society from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.

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