Bart Black is giving students the tools to be healthy kids who will hopefully grow up to be healthy adults.
As a physical education teacher at Winterset Elementary School, Black sees an opportunity to build a foundation of knowledge about health with an age group that is impressionable and enthusiastic.
“I feel there’s a great responsibility to teach kids to be healthy, physically fit, strong individuals,” Black says.
Black’s class involves a mix of fitness, nutrition and building motor skills. They typically begin with a warm-up, then head over to the white board to talk about they’ll be doing for the day. They’ll focus on a skill, and do a “WOD” — “Workout of the Day.” That terminology comes from the CrossFit exercise regimen which Black incorporates into his class.
“CrossFit is constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement; for the kids, it’s minus the high intensity,” explains Black, who is a Level 1 CrossFit trainer and a CrossFit Kids trainer. Black likes CrossFit because it can be adapted to individuals’ needs, and he gives students options to modify exercises to their level.
“Everybody is included,” he says. “Everybody’s working out next to each other.”
Workouts last between three to five minutes. After the WOD, they play a game that incorporates the skill they’ve been working on.
“What I’m trying to do is connect fitness with fun,” Black says.
Going into teaching was something at the back his mind throughout college, Black says. His decision to pursue it was partly due to his own experience, having had influential teachers and coaches while growing up. His mom, who was a teacher, also served as a role model for him.
He had some reservations about working with kids at the elementary level, thinking they would be “hard to manage.” But the reality has been to the contrary.
“I enjoy working with this age group because they’re just so motivated,” he says. “Their attitudes are great. It really makes things easy to focus on my teaching.”
He hopes the lessons he’s imparting to students today will be ones they’ll take into adulthood.
“I want them to have a foundation of how to be a healthy and active person so that they’re able to lead a quality life,” he says.