Montgomery, from left, Mahbubul Alam and Tyler Siefken
do sandbell slams during 7th grade PE class at Cockrill
Middle School on Nov. 9, 2016 in McKinney, Texas.
Texas ó Follow the thuds of the sandbell slams, and youíll
find the gym at Cockrill Middle School.
kids lift the weighted bags over their heads, throwing them
onto the wooden floor. Booms like thunder echo through the
others in gym shorts and sneakers jump rope. Some squat like
theyíre sitting in a chair. And a few wince as they reach
their arms over their heads for situps.
boot camp or CrossFit. Itís called Functional Fitness ó a
new Texas Education Agency-approved strength and conditioning
exercise curriculum from Austin-based GenerationFit.
you know anything about middle school PE, it can be about whoís
athletic and whoís not athletic," said Melanie Magee,
senior director of curriculum and instruction for McKinney ISD.
"This is all about not having that be the focus. Itís
about your body. Yourself. How do you build that lifelong
habit of keeping yourself fit?"
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ISD is one of 12 districts in the state ó and the only one
in North Texas ó currently offering the program. That
statewide number is expected to almost double next year.
local districts have called to ask about the program, said
Karin Klemm, health and physical education coordinator for
McKinney ISD. She began researching Functional Fitness a
couple of years ago and spearheaded bringing it to McKinney.
McKinney ISD incorporates the program into physical education
classes two to three times per week at all its middle and high
schools. Because of interest in Functional Fitness, the
district next year plans to offer a higher-level course at
high schools for an elective credit.
notable since physical education students typically arenít
jocks. They donít meet their physical education credit
requirement scoring touchdowns or making baskets, though some
do play sports or dance outside of school.
important to have this as something that allows them to build
their physical fitness if youíre not an athlete," Klemm
five years ago, Round Rock ISD piloted the program under the
direction of Laurie Gotcher, co-owner of GenerationFit who
also owns two CrossFit gyms. Gotcher, who said she was once
overweight, began developing the curriculum after noticing
students training at her gym for external physical education
learned the kids were hungry for real fitness ó measurable,
accountable fitness," Gotcher said in a phone interview.
"And they loved what I was doing in my gyms."
functional fitness, kids donít play basketball, soccer or
tag ó though these sports are still part of their weekly
work out. We smell. We sweat," Gotcher said.
burpees, jump-rope, push-ups and walking lunges. Various
levels and modifications for each exercise let kids choose the
more of a workout, and the workout is pretty fun,"
seventh-grade student Haven Chae said. "You know that youíre
cool down in yoga positions like downward dog and childís
pose. They journal their workout times and levels in notebooks
to chronicle their progress, comparing it with their
benchmarks measured throughout the year.
means the focus is on them now. Itís not on how they toss a
bean bag to get it in the little hole or make the shot,"
Klemm said. "Itís not about athletics. Itís about how
can I improve myself."