Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fitness as a Family - A New TOS Review!!

For a while I have had a real urge to make sure physical fitness was an integral part of our children's lives and in turn in the lives of our whole family.  As many of you may know, as we get older it's a bit harder to get that extra weight off that has crept on over the years. So I have been on the lookout for a good way to add exercise as a regular part of our day and to make it more of a 'natural' occurrence rather then an item to do on the checklist each day.

I had run across a program called Family Time Fitness a while ago and thought that it would be great, but at the time we didn't have 'extra' in the budget for it.  Then I saw it again when we went to the homeschool convention back in March and made sure we walked by their booth and showed it to Stephen.  We still didn't have money in the budget, but we did think that it was something that we should invest in for the coming year. When I heard that it had come up as a review I literally ran and jumped at the chance to be chosen! When I heard I was chosen I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to start!!

The Product:
Family Time Fitness is exactly what the name evokes - a family fitness program.  The one we were given to review was their Fitness 4 Homeschool program. This program was designed by Mr. Knopp, who was a certified personal trainer, specifically for his brother's family who homeschooled. These brothers worked together with several other professionals to create what we see today as the Fitness 4 Homeschool program.  The program was designed for grades K through 8th and has a series of 260 'lessons'.  These lessons make up the Core 1 Curriculum which is just $57.  You can upgrade to the Platinum program ($137) which includes the whole kit and caboodle! (Click the link to check out exactly what is included.)

One of the great things about this program is that the you the homeschool parent can teach without any previous physical education or athletic development knowledge.  All of what you need to know to teach has been carefully explained in the lessons and if you need help there are video clips demonstrating the exercises.  There are over 200 of these instructional demonstrations and all of them feature real children doing the exercises. And you get lifetime access to the videos!

The lessons are broken down into segments - warm-ups, activity, cool down, and an outside activity. It also lists supplies you will need to do the days lessons. Each lesson should take between 30-45 minutes and if you do the outside activity you can tack on an additional 10-15 minutes.  That's about an hour each day!  And you are provided 1 page summaries to make it much easier to print out instead of the 900+ pages for the entire set of lesson plans! That would be a lot to print!

The program comes with a Start Up Guide which gives you some basic information about physical education, safety instruction, what you can expect from the program, info about the equipment you will need, and even some tips on how to add the program into you curriculum studies. There are also some assessment tools - a tracker and descriptions - to help keep track of different physical movements as well as nutritional information to help round out the program and make it more comprehensive.

You will also receive daily emails for the first year of the course that coincide with the days lesson to help encourage you and remind you about making time for the physical activity. There are even articles and online webinars that you will have access to both current and archived. They even have a scope and sequence for those of you who LOVE those - I know there are at least a few of you. ;)

Our Experience:
So that's enough about the nitty-gritty let me get to explaining how we used the program. I tried to do it daily as the program suggested, but some days it just wasn't in the cards.  The first day I had the program I read through the introduction and how to do the lesson, looked at some video clips (to make sure I understood the exercises), and then made sure I had the right equipment.

Some of the basic equipment you will need you probably already have - balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, playground balls (like soccer balls or volleyballs), foam balls, beans bags, measuring tape, cones, stop watch, and an exercise mat. Now some of these you can use something else or something similar or make your own, for instance bean bags. Others, like hula hoops, you really can't find a substitute.  We were able to find a great deal on hula hoops and that has become one of the favorite exercise tools!

At the end of each module you can print off the 1 page summaries all in a row so that you can have them in hand or you can just put the pdf onto your phone or tablet or pull it up on your computer and read the lesson that way.  That is how I chose to do it.  Most times I just pulled the lesson up on my Tablet and had it handy so I could participate in the exercise as well as lead the children from skill to skill.

Once I gathered all the equipment and had my first lesson "prepared" (read and ready to go) we were all set. So what did the first day look like? Well we did Standing Leg Swings; Toe Raises; Rocking Horse Series; Frog Squats; Shuffle, Skip, Hop Series; 'Jump the River'; Single Leg Stretch; Crossover Stretch; and Jumping Rope ... phew! that was tiring just to write. ;) Once I explained or showed the children how to perform the exercise we started and then did the recommended reps.  That first week we tried to do 5 days, but I think we only managed 4 days.  And let me tell you not only was I sore my girls were too.  Especially after the day with Crab Walks, which by the way Arianna tells me is still her non-favorite exercise.

So what do the girls think? They love it! And they don't like some of it - the part that makes them sore.  But as I've explained to them, the exercises in each lesson concentrate on specific and different muscles or muscle groups which will cause them to be sore the next day or two.  So we either cut back on the amount of reps or skip a day between or 'lessons'.  Most days they ask me "What will we be doing for exercise today?" and are super excited when there's a new skill or exercise - like Popcorn Squats, see the pictures below.

My Thoughts:
I am definitely going to be continuing this program at least 3 times a week.  I want to make sure that my children are more physically active then I am when they get to my age.  I hope that by instilling the idea of exercise as a regular part of life early that they will stick with it throughout their lives and the lives of their own families and therefore be more healthier and fit.

You can sign up and do a FREE 2 day trial to see how the program works for you and just how easy it will be to add into your homeschool day. And you can learn a little more from this video clip:

I encourage you to take some time and read how other Crew members or implemented Fitness 4 Homeschool into their day  by clicking on the banner below.  You can check out more on Facebook and Twitter.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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