Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dec 05

A Day in the Life of an Adapted PE Specialist: Part 2

By RonUsher | Running faster for kids

image of woman doing a mountain climber exercise

This is not my student.

My goal with one of my students is to increase his athletic skills. I want to make him stronger and faster. He has major gross motor deficiencies. He has severe scoliosis and has weakness in his upper, lower body and core. And I believe that his psoas muscle is barely working.

I’m giving him exercises to do each week; about 5. The exercises are to improve his full body strength as well as work on some running skills. This is the third week I’ve given him the exercises so I got to to see if they are helping.

His push-ups have gotten much better. I can really tell he’s practicing those. I’m not sure about his squats. His running form seems to be improving. His knees came up higher and his foot recovery was much higher as well. Perhaps best, he felt he was improving in his running as well.

What did concern me was that he was very fatigued after running only fifteen yards or so. This shows me that we have some serious cardiovascular and endurance work to do as well.

The exercises I gave him to perform this week were:

1. Stationary lunges, ten on each leg. I replaced the squats with these.

2. Triceps extensions on a bench. These are replacing the push-ups though I think he will continue to do them as well.

3. Mountain climbers. He did these on the floor (to continue to work core and chest) but I think I should have had them do them at an angle. From the floor is much more demanding and from an angle he could have been working on bringing his knees up faster.

4. Arm pumps. His arm gait is horrible when he runs. I thought he’d pick this up quickly but he did not. He needs more instruction on getting a good swinging motion from the shoulder.

5. Leg pull through. We continue this from last time for his running form. It also works on the knee lift and balance as well.

I will see him next week and let you know how he does.


Dec 03

A Day In the Life of an Adapted PE Specialist: Part 1

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

picture of batman and robin running

Batman and Robin were not very athletic. They did not have good running form.

Well, maybe not the whole day. How about one student?

I wrote about this student before. This was our third meeting and I’m very pleased that he’s making good progress. Of course, I have a long way to go to figuring out exactly what he needs. Or if we can even give him all he needs.

Each day we’re together I learn a little bit more.

We’ve been working on improving his running form and giving him some strength in his legs and core. Last week I did some tests and found out that he couldn’t lift his left knee more than 15%. I think he has either a weak psoas muscle or it might not even be there. That might explain his scoliosis.

I can tell he is practicing his exercises because he’s getting much better at them. He loves doing the push-ups at an angle. He was even doing one handed ones.

I had him run a short distance (20 yards) and his form is better. He’s picking up his feet more as well as his knees. What surprised me is how tired he got. I’m not sure if it’s muscular or cardiopulmonary. It’s probably both.

This will be something we will have to work on.

In Part 2, I’ll give the exercises I gave him. Other than doing hip lifts, I changed all the exercises up. I like to keep things different and moving along. Kids get bored quickly and I want him to keep excited about improving and learning new exercises.

Dec 03

Getting Back to the Workout

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

picture of woman working out

This is not me. I don’t scream when lifting 5lb dumbbells.

Four months ago I joined a gym. I find it frustrating that I need a gym to get good workouts in. Here am I, a proponent of working out at home and using minimal equipment and yet I find I do much better if I have a gym.

I’m not sure sure why. I think it has something to do with having a location for your workouts. My apartment is small, I have very little alone time but those are really just excuses.

Of course, going to workout at the gym is a great excuse for getting out of the house. Maybe that’s the reason I like going there. Or at least go.

Anyway, I joined the gym and was going at least six times a week. I have a buddy who was going (he stopped after a month) and found I was making great strides. My strength went up in all areas and so did my endurance. I was loosing weight and feeling strong.

Then after about 3 months, life caught up with me. I stopped going in the morning, putting it off till the afternoon. Then I put it off till the evening. And then I put it off till the morning again.

And over Thanksgiving, we were traveling…and I got sick. Not a good combination.

But today, I got up and made it to the gym in the morning. I felt fatter…and weaker. OK, let’s be honest…I was fatter and weaker. But I did make it.

The only thing now is to do it again tomorrow.

See you at the gym.

Dec 02

Working Out and Blog Posts

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This isn’t me but I’ve been told he looks a little like me. Our hair is the same color at the least.

Most of the time I like to workout.

And most of the time I like to write.

But sometimes I don’t feel like doing either.

When I workout or have a good blog post, I feel better. I feel rejuvenated. I feel like I’m making progress towards my goals. I’m usually happier and more perkier.

When I don’t workout or do a blog post, I feel lazy. I feel like I’m not making progress on anything. I get almost depressed. I don’t feel like doing much except sit around and watch TV. Or do other passive activities.

And I’m in that state now. Perhaps it’s the weather. It has been pouring all weekend. Perhaps it’s the Christmas spirit (it ran away with Rudolph). But either way, I’m not much motivated to write…or to workout.

But here I am doing a blog post. And I’ll take the dog out for a walk and get a little bit of exercise. I might even make it to the gym tonight.

And that’s the secret. You have to take the first step towards your goals. You don’t have to complete them…just take step one.

Coaches and parents have to deal with the same issues. Sometimes you don’t want to take the kid to practice. Sometimes you don’t want to go coach.

And kids deal with it too.

Teach them the one step process. Just do one thing positive in the direction you want to go. Just one step.

Like I did writing this post.

I’m feeling better already.

Dec 02

Obesity and Down Syndrome Connection

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

pic of student lifting dumbells

Not my student but doing a great job lifting weights.

I’ve had over a hundred students with Down Syndrome on my caseload over the years and I’d have to say that about 80% are overweight.

There’s a new study out in Denmark that found the same thing. There findings were about 5% of the kids were obese and 25% were overweight. I think one reason my kids tend to be heavier is they are more severely disabled. This limits there mobility.

There wasn’t any real causes found in the Denmark study. They hypothesized that with them living longer they are more likely to develop diseases associated with being overweight such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Their recommendation was that kids start learning healthy habits such as daily exercise and proper nutrition early. This way it is more likely to be part of their lifestyle as they get older.

What I’ve found with many of my students with Down Syndrome is that their diet consists of a lot of processed foods including chips and candy. They also eat the cafeteria foods which pizza (not very good pizza at that) is one of the mainstays.

As far as exercise, most of the kids enjoy sports and being active. We would have some great basketball and indoor hockey games. I found that they tended to overheat and get tired quickly. We made sure they got enough rest and had plenty of water. In California, it gets pretty hot during the school year so we had to be careful.

The takeaway on this is that if your child has Down Syndrome or you’re a teacher working with students with it, then make sure they are getting enough exercise. Daily walking, running and sports games will help their fitness. And helping make sure they have fresh fruits and vegetables every day will help with their nutrition.

Dec 01

The Expense of Being a Sporty Parent

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of parent with no money

This isn’t me but it could be.

As a coach I don’t use a lot of equipment. I don’t as a PE teacher either.

My ebook is all about using the natural environment for fitness.

And yet, I keep finding out that spending money is very easy to do when it comes to sports and recreational activities. I’m not really happy about it. Yet, if it really bothered me I wouldn’t.

Maybe it’s the spirit of Christmas and Chanukah.

What got me started on this was my 7 year old son had so much fun at the skate park in Nashville, that he is dieing to do it here in Campbell. The only problem is that he doesn’t have equipment.

Of course he can use my Sector 9 longboard but I’m not 100% thrilled about that.

So for Christmas we are thinking about getting him a new board. And today we went out and looked. How much is everything going to cost?

Well, at the low end the pre-made boards are going to be about $120. At the higher end (and of course, the cool end…and the end he wants) it’s going to be about $160.

And then there’s the elbow and knee pads. Which he needs for the park and makes me feel better. They are $45.

So early Chanukah. We came home with the pads. He’s happy (at least for now).

And I’m wondering where all my money goes.

Dec 01

Youth Fitness Topics for 2013

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Image of boy frustrated by writing

This is not me but I can sure relate!

I’ve been thinking about what to write for next year. Thinking a lot. When I was at the LA airport with nothing to do for three hours, I wanted to see if I could come up with a list of topics for Athletic Skills for Kids to investigate and blog. Some I would write about, some I would have guest bloggers and interviewers write.

Then I found myself at the LA airport, delayed to SF because of fog. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could come up with 52 different articles, one for each week. I started writing and the first 30 or so came pretty easy.

The next 22 were a lot harder. But then I started getting on a roll and I came up with over a 100. I’m not sure if each topic is worth a week of blogging but I’m sure some are.

I’m thinking that 2013 will be the year of Youth Fitness. And then each week would be one aspect of it. Here is my initial idea for the first ten weeks:

  1. Healthy Kids
  2. Healthy Families
  3. Youth Sports
  4. Physical Education in the Schools
  5. Overweight Kids
  6. Special Needs
  7. Outdoor Activities
  8. Movement in the Classroom
  9. High School Sports
  10. Homeschool PE

There’s a lot more ideas and each one of those could branch out into other topics. For instance youth sports could branch out into soccer, swimming, baseball, softball, etc. Each one of those sports would be a week as well.

I’m excited about Athletic Skills for Kids in 2013. I think it’s going to be a good year for us…and for kids.