From the Couch to Conditioning

Learn how to engage kids and improve their physical literacy during the warm-up.

By Brett Klika
Mar 17, 2015

Youth are flocking to fitness classes as parents face concerns over inactivity, obesity, sports injuries and performance. Instructors are learning to cater to the vast needs of this market, and it can be difficult to create a safe environment where all children can participate, get results and have a good time. While challenges will always exist in group classes, some simple strategies, particularly during the first few minutes, can turn frustration into fun.

Engagement and Physical Literacy

Many youngsters come to class after being at desks, in cars and on couches all day. The kids likely haven’t moved in a while, so they’re excited, antsy and ready to get going. Use this energy to accomplish two things (in addition to the standard goals of a warm-up):

  1. Get the children engaged.
  2. Improve physical literacy.

ENGAGING KIDS

Odds are, kids don’t have physical education in school and they don’t play much on their own. The last thing they want to do is stand around, get in lines or listen to lectures. Their bodies and brains demand movement, so get them moving—immediately! You can focus on different aspects of fitness and physical development. The primary goal, however, is to get kids sweating, smiling and interacting for a minute or two. Make the moves simple enough that very little instruction is needed. Just let them play!

Shark Island

  • Instructor calls out a number.
  • Participants form groups of exactly that number and put their arms around one another.
  • Instructor (the “shark”) chases participants, hurrying group formation.
  • Participants not able to get in groups quickly are “chomped” by the shark.
  • Game repeats with large, small, odd and even numbers.

Note: Use this exercise to get kids into groups for the duration of class.

Partner Tag

  • Participants pair up, facing one another.
  • When whistle blows, students simultaneously attempt to “tag” the arms, legs and/or torsos of their partners without moving around the room. The challenge is to tag while avoiding being tagged.
  • Each bout lasts about 10 seconds.
  • Keeping “score” is optional, as is switching partners.

PHYSICAL LITERACY

Kids learn how to move as a result of developing a wide array of physical skills. Modern inactivity and early specialization in a single sport have created a deficit in the development of general skills needed for a lifetime. The building blocks of physical literacy include foundational motor abilities, in addition to the fundamental movement skills associated with locomotion, stationary movement control and object manipulation. When you address these during a warm-up, it helps “hook up” a child’s brain to the rest of his body so he moves more effectively and efficiently. For more information on physical literacy foundational skills, visit www.kids fitnow.com.

Exploratory Locomotion

  • Participants line up shoulder to shoulder at arms length.
  • Cue is to move across an established space using a locomotion strategy of choice (skipping, crawling, etc.).
  • Once they arrive at the “end” point, they must return using a different strategy.
  • Game repeats to allow for four different movement strategies.

Exploratory Locomotion

  • Participants line up shoulder to shoulder at arms length.
  • Cue is to move across an established space using a locomotion strategy of choice (skipping, crawling, etc.).
  • Once they arrive at the “end” point, they must return using a different strategy.
  • Game repeats to allow for four different movement strategies.

Airplanes

  • Participants gather in a clearly defined area that requires relatively close contact.
  • Cue is to lift the arms into “airplane” position.
  • On the whistle, participants run, skip or perform another locomotion strategy around the defined area, arms out.
  • Students duck, twist, jump or do anything else necessary to avoid contacting other participants while keeping arms outstretched.
  • Participants who make contact with another are “out” for the rest of that bout.
  • Each bout lasts 30–60 seconds.

Video Web Extra

Click here to watch these drills in motion.

Shark Island

Partner Tag

Exploratory Locomotion

Airplanes

Avatar

Brett Klika

Brett Klika is an IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, motivational speaker, author and co-founder of SPIDERfit Kids, a global innovator in youth fitness education. With over 20 years of experience creating youth fitness programs, fitness DVDs, and other resources for various industry and consumer organizations, Brett continues to bring his knowledge and practical experience with the “power of play” to fitness educators around the world. His best-selling book, 7 Minutes to Fit, has been translated into three different languages and has inspired busy families from all corners of the globe to make health part of their hectic lives.

Leave a Comment





When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.