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Fitness Beyond P.E.

Physical education goes outside the gym

26 December 2011 2 Comments

Timpanogos High physical education teacher Robyn Bretzing found herself wondering if what she was teaching her students was impacting them past graduation.  Bretzing said, “I realized that it wasn’t.  We were teaching kids the same thing for six years in a row. You wouldn’t read the same book every year in English classes, so why should P.E. be any different?”

Bretzing decided that her students needed physical education that would go beyond  team sports and teach them lifelong fitness principles and activities.  She knew that the only way she could teach her students fitness activities would be to learn them herself. Bretzing began by breaking out of her comfort zone and learning different types of exercise. “It was hard,” she said. “I started taking classes like yoga, kickboxing and spinning.  When I first started learning yoga, I was not very flexible and felt awkward.  I thought of exercise as getting hot and sweaty, so yoga was a completely different experience for me.  But as I attended more classes and started teaching it to my students, I became more flexible, more knowledgeable, and more confident in my ability to teach yoga.  Now I love it and my students do too!”

Most teachers are not willing to step outside their comfort zones and teach students things they do not know or have only recently learned themselves.  “It’s scary and makes you feel uncomfortable,” Bretzing said. “But the students are more willing to try something new when they see that I am learning and stretching myself.”

"Even if it only affects one kid, it’s worth it."

Bretzing designed her new Fitness for Life classes to teach all kinds of activities, such as land paddling, bouldering, spinning, and kickboxing.  The change has made a big impact on the Timpanogos P.E. department and the effects have been positive with her students.  One student who took a Fitness for Life aerobics class told Bretzing afterwards that it changed her life. “She lost 25 pounds, felt better, and was more self-confident,” said Bretzing. “It’s moments like this that make teaching worth it. Even if it only affects one kid, it’s worth it.”

The Fitness for Life class and curriculum has been so successful that Bretzing has been invited to give several keynote speeches and activity presentations at conferences and workshops around the country, including the PE4Life convention in Kansas City.  She will also be presenting at this year’s National AHPERD Convention in Boston.  “It’s so important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things,” said Bretzing. “Don’t ever let the fear of failure hold you back.”

12 December 2011


  • s jensen said:

    What a fantastic teacher. I wish all teachers had that kind of commitment and enthusiasm!

  • Sarah W said:

    As a middle school student, team sports were the subject I was worst at. My love of exercise now is only because I found other ways to stay fit outside of school. If I’d had the Fitness for Life class, I would have liked that a lot better.

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