Center Grove Middle School Central students this year will come out of physical education class knowing how to kick a wooden board in martial arts, do the dance steps in a Zumba class or work their feet in a boxing ring.
Starting in November, students will participate in more than the typical team sports during class. A few days a week, the school will offer voluntary alternatives, including jiu-jitsu, boxing and yoga. Kids can choose to stay in the regular class or attend the alternative lesson.
The goal is to make fitness fun by showing kids new ways to get active and encouraging them to get active outside class, physical education teacher Carrie Sumney said.
By introducing them to exercise classes available for adults and kids in the area, the students and their families can learn about ways to get active outside school.
Sumney received a grant for $840 from the Center Grove Education Foundation to bring instructors from area fitness organizations to teach kids practices such as Zumba and self-defense during regular class time. She hopes to get instructors in eight activities who will each offer one or two lessons each semester.
The instructors will volunteer or receive a stipend from the grant.
The instructors will come during the school day and stay for all seven physical education class periods. They will visit during November and December of this semester and February and March in the spring semester. The students can sign up for the lessons as an alternative to the regular class.
The idea for the class came from a fitness club that Sumney directed last year, which brought in instructors from the area to lead different activities.
Not many kids participated in the club because it was after school and they had other activities, she said. By having the programs available during physical education class, every student in the school will have the chance to participate.
Sumney plans to bring in many of the instructors who taught at the fitness club last year. For example, an instructor from Evolutions @ Yoga in Greenwood will teach basic yoga, and a trainer at Indianapolis Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will give lessons on self-defense and martial arts.
The goal of the new lessons is to get kids involved in fitness not just in school but for the rest of their lives. Most adults do group fitness to get exercise, not games and sports, Sumney said. The kids need to be involved in those kinds of group activities, such as Zumba or crosstraining, to keep them active during more than just their school-day class, she said.
Her hope is that at least one of the instructors she brings in will spark students’ interest in a new activity, such as boxing or yoga, and promote a healthy lifestyle outside of school.
The lessons, such as crosstraining from Indy Crossfit, will be tailored to a middle school ability level, Sumney said. Instructors will be encouraged to bring sign-up sheets and information on their own classes to the school, she said. She hopes that kids will talk to their parents about doing more activities together as a family.
“The hope is that they’ll realize that there is more out there and ask their families to be a part of it,” she said.