At the beginning of March, many of us are trying to hold onto our New Year’s health and fitness resolutions. Part of my effort in this regard is going to two classes: [solidcore] and Sweatbox. Both offer great workouts. I feel like the coaches challenge me and give me the encouragement I need. But, they are very different from each other, and (in between trying catch my breath during workouts over the past couple of weeks), I’ve been thinking that difference may hold a lesson for educators as we think about our own evolving classrooms.
[solidcore] is highly technical and tough workout that focuses on building up slow-twitch muscles by having participants use a double-ended pilates machine. You lunge, squat, press, plank, and dip as slowly as you can while high energy music plays and the coach yells out cues and encouragement.
Good positioning and form are essential to get the most out of the workout and to make sure that you don’t get hurt. Therefore, there are only nine to twelve participants in each class, and coaches are constantly coming around to adjust for positioning.
[solidcore] reminds me of a traditional classroom where the teacher moves from student to student to make sure tough and complex concepts are understood and mastered. Or perhaps a chemistry lab where the teacher guides students ensuring that safety protocols and processes are being followed.
The other workout I do is Sweatbox, which gets its name from the “box” that you are designated to sweat in. In your box is a set of weights, a sandbag, TRX cables, and a bike. In Sweatbox, you alternate between exercises on the coaches’ instruction, shifting between weight training work and cardio, with very little break in between. The class can accommodate 25 participants.
In the class, everyone wears a heart rate monitor that hooks to screens in the room. The screen give you immediate feedback that helps you figure out if you are working hard enough — and lets the coach know who needs encouragement and help. Feedback from the workout is sent to an app on your phone after class, allowing you to set goals for the next class.
In Sweatbox, I’m reminded of classrooms that are blended and personalized, offering instant feedback and gamification tools such as badging, challenges, and points, as ways to increase student motivation and engagement. And classrooms where collaboration and peer-to-peer feedback provide encouragement and assistance to achieve goals.
One fitness class isn’t better than the other. In fact, both workouts are great because I feel like I have worked hard and received the encouragement, training, and expertise that I need to keep feeling good and get stronger. But mixing it up allows me to achieve different fitness goals and helps me stay motivated.
Is there something we can learn from this for our own classes?
Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)