Motivating Teen Girls to Take an Interest in Health and Fitness
By Betty Kern, MS, CSCS
Have you ever wondered if it was possible to get teen girls excited about exercise and eating healthier? Do you think it is possible to successfully reach that student who “has never liked physical education class or sports?” Here’s what some of the girls from Springfield High School in Akron, Ohio had to say about their “Personal Training Class” (a PE elective for juniors and seniors).
“Joining this class helped me realize that I can do anything if I set my mind to it!”
“This is a class that will get your mind off other subjects…but it wasn’t all fun & games . . . we learned a lot, worked hard and had fun!”
“This class has helped me to get over my bulimia. I’m more aware of my nutrition versus just wanting to be thin and not caring how it happens.”
“This is a good class for insecure girls!”
“I have done better in school because I feel better about myself.”
“During the middle of the semester I could feel my body was more limber, stronger and overall healthier! I am going to miss this class!”
This class has been an amazing experience . . . it has had such a good impact on my attitude! I’ve lost two pant sizes and reduced some major stress. I love this class so much!”
Tasha (three-time Ab Challenge winner . . . took the class three times)
“I love this class! My back is stronger since I started doing yoga, and I haven’t had to take any medication for my acid reflux. I think everyone should take this class. I’ve even got my mom and my little sister doing some of the yoga with me.”
Amanda (who has scoliosis)
“Mrs. Kern . . . thank you for having this class! I used to think that I couldn’t do anything physical . . . but now I know I can do anything I set my mind to doing! I have lost 30 pounds this year!”
“I would have never made it through my senior year without this class! It helped me focus on positive things and feel better physically and emotionally.”
Abbie (took the class 2 time & is majoring in nutrition in college)
As the girls’ quotes indicate, mission accomplished! The impact of this class was amazing. Poor nutritional habits were dropped, healthy habits adopted, inactive teen girls are now exercising daily and keeping a nutrition & exercise journal, self-confidence & self-esteem soared, study habits and grades improved, attitudes towards healthy eating & exercise changed, weight & inches lost, muscle tone gained, new friendships were built, strong & healthy student-teacher relationships developed, and the girls had fun!
So How Are You Motivating Teen Girls?
Why is this class so successful? It provides a unique fitness option for teen girls. An individualized approach is taken within a group setting by establishing, tracking & rewarding personal goals. Challenge competitions allow for success regardless of ability differences. Flexibility in class activities within predetermined parameters helps the girls feel a sense of ownership of the class because student feedback is valued and acknowledged.
The “Personal Training Class” was born out of the desire to help teenage girls make the connection between their lifestyle habits, energy levels, physical fitness, school performance, mood swings, skin problems, weight and health issues. Through conversation, it became apparent that students did not understand the impact of their daily lifestyle habits on these areas. With administrative support, it was decided that it was time to make a difference in the lives of the girls at Springfield High School.
To find out more about Motivating Teen Girls with a Personal Fitness Program watch for the follow-up articles describing more about the program and how to start new programs within the schools or your community facility.
With the obesity and health issues facing our nation, it is time for physical education and health teachers and fitness professionals to implement new programs that reach out to a variety of students to teach them healthy lifestyle habits and that “fitness can be fun.” Go make a difference in your school & community!
Betty Kern, MS, CSCS teaches physical education in Akron, Ohio and is the creator of the PE Fit Programs. You can learn more by visiting www.pe-fit.com.