Technology and fitness meld at Flowing Wells

2013-08-29T00:00:00Z Technology and fitness meld at Flowing WellsBy Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Flowing Wells High School is working on ways to blend technology and fitness.

Consider these results at the school, at 3725 N. Flowing Wells Road:

A sleek, beautiful fitness center with state-of-the-art cardio equipment, patrolled by two personal trainers, draws workout crowds before and after school.

PE teachers, toting iPads evaluate students’ fitness levels, upload the data to a program on Wi-Fi, then use the evaluations in class fitness lessons.

A health class gets students up and moving, playing Wii games to do get their blood flowing and hone hand-eye coordination.

The school is always looking for ways to use technology to make physical activity more fun and efficient, said Pat Weber, the athletic director.

Through a $1.5 million 21st Century Learning Grant awarded to the district, the school used $2,000 to purchase the fitness-monitoring software and buy six iPads for the teachers and trainers.

PE teachers use the school-issued iPads to input data about students’ performance in batteries of fitness tests, which include push-ups, sit-ups, shuttle runs and vertical jumps. They upload the data to a software program called Fitstats, which the instructors use to monitor improvement over time, and teach the students to evaluate the data and integrate it into their own activity.

“The teachers used to log that stuff on their laptop or desktop, but now they do it right on the spot,” Weber said. “Recording the data that way is so much more efficient.”

Weber anticipates PE teachers uploading the data to the program in early September.

“They find out how they’re progressing, what their fitness levels are, their body fat — it’s keeping track of all of that,” Weber said. “Students have their own access to the information. They print out results and look at how they’re improving. It adds to the motivation of the students to continue their fitness once they start seeing progress. That will encourage them to continue with their fitness plans.”

Flowing Wells received $165,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, allowing the school to hire the trainers and help create the Nicholas I. Clement Fitness Center.

The school combined two existing weight rooms and bought $60,000 of aerobic equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals and spin bikes, as well as an upgraded sound system. Students can also use the P90X workout system. Bond funds, combined with a $30,000 private donation, funded the center.

“Statistics show that students who are physically fit are able to perform better in the classroom and on the field,” Weber said, adding that between 75 and 100 kids stay several hours after school each day to work out at the facility. The school provides healthy snacks, such as granola bars and fruit juice, to encourage the dedication.

Last year, the district paid $9,300 to buy six 47-inch HDTVs, Wii systems, games and accessories to encourage activity during health classes.

Principal Jim Brunenkant said integrating the Wii into health class was a way to get kids moving without making them don gym shorts and do wind sprints.

“Kids who don’t like exercise can go in there and play ‘Wii Fit,’” Brunenkant said. “It’s a way to sort of trick them into exercising.”

Brunenkant said the integration of fitness and tech has nothing to do with being flashy. 

“It’s just best practices. What’s good for the kids and common sense,” he said. “It’s not a matter of modeling after any school or program. It’s just trying to get kids fit and keep them away from childhood obesity or diabetes. Get them active.”

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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