This is your grandfather’s physical education. Returning to the days of old, the Iowa Department of Education showed some Des Moines students fitness skills that would be recognized by our ancestors of a hundred years ago.
Forty Des Moines students joined state education Director Jason Glass and his team on the lawn outside the Grimes Building on the Capitol Complex to learn about proper fitness techniques.
World-class athletes and physical therapists around the United States are recognizing that these old techniques are cutting edge today.
“These training tools, such as medicine balls, Kettlebells, and agility ladders, were designed generations ago to maximize physical performance,” said Dr. Ed Thomas, health and physical education consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. “History has much to offer tomorrow’s physical education.”
Thomas said that much of today’s practices keep students active, but physical activity does not always translate into quality physical education.
“We must not only teach children to move well, but we also must teach them to teach others,” Thomas said.
Though these techniques were common in schools several generations ago, physical education evolved to sports and games over the years. The overemphasis on sports and games was at the expense of physical and motor fitness. That has contributed to a decline in our overall physical fitness.
“These old training methods and materials actually contribute to better sports performance,” Thomas said. “By enhancing their physical and motor fitness, our youth will develop optimal strength, endurance, and mobility.”
Director Glass, who along with Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have charted a course to restore Iowa’s education to a world-class system, said physical fitness is a critical component.
“When we talk about having world-class education, we cannot ignore the student’s health,” Glass said. “A high-performing body goes hand in hand with a high-performing brain.”
But did the fitness techniques pass muster with the students? In a word: Yes.
“It was really cool,” said 13-year-old Daisy Diaz. “You got to learn a lot and you can do these easily at home. It was hard, but it was a lot of fun.”