Farewell Flexed Arm Hang, Hello “Healthy Fitness Zones”!

The recent overhaul of our schools’ Presidential Fitness Testing is long overdue. The new testing benchmarks chart an individual child’s cardiovascular fitness, body composition, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility, instead of measuring performance of athletic tasks, such as sit ups or the broad jump, and comparing students on a percentile scale.

How Presidential Fitness Testing came about

In the 1950s, a study revealed that American children were far less fit than their European counterparts. More than half of American students failed at least one part of a fitness test that included toe touches, leg lifts, sit ups and trunk lifts. By contrast, only 8% of European children failed any component. Dismayed with these results, President Eisenhower established the President’s Council on Youth Fitness.

Over the years, testing components have been modified to include sprints, endurance activities and measures of upper-body and lower-body strength. Unfortunately, testing in the schools historically has shown little or no improvement among student populations. Instead, childhood overweight and obesity have become increasingly problematic among our nation’s youth. In a move that many find counterintuitive, schools across the country are scaling back physical education programs.

Why an overhaul of Presidential Fitness Testing makes sense

“Fitness is not a ‘one size fits all’ and the testing should reflect that,” says Karen Jashinsky, founder of O2 Max, a youth fitness company. She advocates a multi-pronged approach in evaluating a young person’s fitness level.

“As professionals, we look at fitness as encompassing multiple things, including strength, flexibility, endurance and core strength. So we should be testing kids on all of these things and recognizing that they can be tested in various ways,” says Jashinsky.

Jashinsky points out that the previous testing methods could in fact deter a child from participating in physical education activities. “Not all kids are runners. Putting them in a competitive environment might actually discourage them even further,” says Jashinsky. “I think that we can be testing for key things in multiple ways.”

Next steps

Though the recent revision of testing is certainly a step in the right direction, what are we doing to help our students develop long-term healthy habits? Now we can measure the problem “better”, but what can we do to address the root of the problem? How can we help students discover activities they can enjoy for a lifetime?

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Yoga Direct


What’s hot:
Yoga Jellies (shown left) from Yoga Direct are 5.5” diameter gel-filled discs that provide cushioning beneath knees, elbows, feet and hands. Yoga Jellies can help alleviate discomfort that some weight-bearing positions can cause, helping participants ease into postures that might otherwise be inaccessible. Also great for Pilates.

What’s cool: The Anti-Gravity Yoga Inversion Swing (shown right) promises to take participants to the next level in their yoga practice. Anti-gravity yoga, inversion therapy, and total body strengthening and stretching are all possible with this multi-functional swing. This particular product is not commercial grade, but it can easily be used in a one-to-one training setting or at home to deepen your practice. Currently out of stock with no estimated arrival of new inventory, the trick is actually getting your hands on one! Tap into the patience and love that yoga brings to your emotional surface and embrace the anticipation of this wonderful product. Namaste!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Step360 Pro


The Step360 Pro combines the familiarity of a step with the challenge of a balance trainer. New exercisers can feel confident stepping onto the flat, non-slip platform, and the height and degree of instability can be controlled by changing the amount of air in the chambers underneath. While SPRI recommends keeping air in both chambers, each one inflates independently. The main rule of thumb is that more air equals more stability, while less air means less stability. Six tubing anchors make it easy to incorporate a variety of strengthening and balance exercises into a Step360 workout. The Step 360’s versatility and wide repertoire of exercises for all fitness levels make it a standout in the balance trainer market.

Tomorrow we’ll take a peek at Yoga Direct!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – SPRI

What’s hot: SPRI’s Roll Out Ladder was sold out by day two of the trade show, and I wished I had gotten there earlier. Anyone who has ever led a group training session with a traditional agility ladder knows how much it can scoot around on the floor. Well, the designer of the Roll Out ladder definitely had his or her thinking cap on! The ladder is made of a heavy duty, non-skid recycled rubber that resists bunching up. It will stay put on all kinds of indoor surfaces, as well as some outdoor surfaces. Put your order in now!

What’s cool: SPRI has dubbed its attractive braided tubing line the “next generation in rubber resistance”, and I have to agree. The Braided Xertube is four tubes woven together into a braided band. Each tube is plugged independently into the connector at the bottom, making it more durable than the traditional Xertube. The Braided Xertubes are still color-coded like the original Xertubes, with yellow being the lightest and then increasing resistance as you progress to green, red, blue and purple. However, the sales rep mentioned that by nature of the braiding, the yellow Braided Xertube will offer a little more resistance than the original yellow Xertube, but it is still easier than the green Xertube. The foam handle is a plus, too, if you are accustomed to the hard plastic handles of the original Xertube.

Tomorrow we’ll check out the Step360 Pro!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Rumble Roller


If you’re looking for serious myofascial release, you will love the RumbleRoller. Its textured surface with asymmetrical “thumb-like” ridges provides far greater pressure and penetration into soft tissue than smooth foam rollers. Spaced less than 2” apart, the nubs are firm yet pliable, and they will yield to contact with your spine or other bony protrusions. The RumbleRoller comes in two sizes and densities. There is a full-size version (6” diameter x 31”) and a compact version (5” diameter x 12”). The blue roller is the original density (which is already quite firm), and the black roller is 36% firmer than the blue. The direction you roll will also affect the intensity of the massage. In traditional rolling exercises, the ridges will flex easily. However, if you rock side to side, towards the roller ends, you are working in a direction where the ridges have less “give”, which results in deeper pressure. That’s just how they roll!

Tomorrow we’ll spring over to SPRI!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – PurMotion


PurMotion’s functional training station is meant to integrate the company’s signature products into one unit. There are several interesting attachments and features:

  • The AirFit Trainer Pro is Purmotion’s suspension trainer. The spring and pulley design allows for unrestricted, unilateral movement and rotation that is not jarring.
  • The Clean and Jerk attachment has two revolving handles to help keep hands neutral throughout an exercise’s range of motion: think power clean, clean and jerk, and split jerk.
  • The Cyclone 100 pulley (shown right) and Ultra sling allow users to hoist their own bodyweight in a rope climb.

Tomorrow, get ready to rumble with RumbleRoller!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Power Systems III


Just for fun: The Airope from Power Systems is a pair of solid rubber weighted ropes with padded handles, about 20” from end to end (including the handle), that involves the same upper body roping motion as traditional jumproping. You may question the point of buying a jump rope that has no rope, but consider the benefits of use in low-ceilinged rooms, in small studio spaces, or for those of us who just can’t seem to stay untangled from a traditional rope. There are other less expensive versions on the market with digital counters, but they may not be up to the heavy use of a group class.

Tomorrow we’ll see what PurMotion is up to!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Power Systems II


What’s different? The FreeStyle Step, which has a slightly cushioned surface instead of the traditional ridged top of The Original Health Club Step, is now available from Power Systems in gray/black as well as red/black. If your participants typically use mats on top of their steps when doing supine work, the FreeStyle Step may eliminate that need. For added versatility, the FreeStyle risers can be used to create either a flat surface or slanted positions—no need for separate wedge risers.

Tomorrow we’ll check out another fun item by Power Systems!

IHRSA 2012 Trade Show – Power Systems


What’s new at Power Systems? There are a couple of new and noteworthy items. Power Systems’ brand of resistance tubing, called Versa-Tubes, are now available in 60” lengths, as well as the standard 48”. On another note, Power Systems is a distributor for the new “Smart Bar” from Les Mills. The Smart Bar offers a more ergonomic, efficient way to load and unload plates from a barbell than traditional equipment. Watch the video below to see how it works!

Tomorrow we’ll check out another traditional piece of equipment that has been made over!