Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Family Time Fitness - A Homeschool Crew Review

This summer my son and I had the opportunity to try out Family Time Fitness home fitness program for home schools.  I was delighted, because I always struggle to get that physical activity in, and I wanted some fresh ideas.
I received Family Time Fitness, Fitness 4 Home School, Core 1, as a download, and was immediately impressed with the volume of material I received.  

I perused the material and then printed out the first twenty lessons (Lesson Module 1) and put them into a 3-ring binder.  For a mere $57, you get 14 separate downloads (an Introduction and 13 separate modules of approximately 20 lessons each). Each Lesson module has two ways of viewing it: either as a two-page spread that is Internet-linked to videos of how to do every listed activity, or as a paper-saving, ink-saving one-page spread that you can print out and load into a notebook. 

Reading the Introduction has been really motivating. I knew I was not doing as much with my son as I wanted to, when it came to physical fitness, but the Introduction says my son should be getting physical activity for 45 to 60 minutes every day. I had not heard that before. The Introduction gives me confidence that following the FTF (Family Time Fitness) Program, I will be giving my son a systematic program that will improve his health, develop motor sensory skills, and eventually will improve his self-esteem and help him with self-awareness.

Most importantly for me, I was reassured by the Introduction's reminder that, like any other discipline, physical fitness must be taught. I keep going back to the Introduction and getting reinforced when I get discouraged or am dissatisfied with our progress. I need to remember that I cannot take my out-of-shape son (and my out-of-shape self) and expect him (us) to be able to start the program, and from Day 1 be able to do every activity listed fully and completely. I wasn't expecting this at first, and as the first weeks cranked by and he and I were not getting all the suggested activities completed, and not getting the ones we did do done the way they were listed, I was getting discouraged. I needed to remember that you can't take a couch potato out and ask them to run a marathon, you can't expect a 3rd grader to understand Algebra, and you shouldn't expect to be able to jump into a new fitness program fully if you are not starting physically fit.

As we started out this program, we were really sore. We would open a lesson, look at the demonstration videos (example HERE), and think, "Oh, that's easy enough!...). Then we'd try the activity and fail to do as many as called for, or as long as called for, or worse yet fall on our face or "franny", and sigh and get discouraged. Then we both became SO SORE! Muscles we hadn't met were being used... Sore for a long time. So, needing to stay motivated, I went to the website as well to help me remind myself why I wanted to do this.

I was really impressed by some information on the website that talked about brain activity when at rest (think of government school kids sitting seven hours a day) vs. the brain after 20 minutes of physical activity, and a heat-enhanced color photo of the different brains:
The website is full of relevant articles, one of which hit particularly close to home for our family (How Physical Fitness and Diet Affect Anger), and one about Diabetes that should be read by every parent in today's Diabetes-prone society.

So, implementing a physical fitness regime is difficult when you are starting at a place of physically phyyyt! But the longer I have this program, the more if it we do, the more I look at it, the more we progress in it, the more I like it. I still have a long way to go. My son still has a long way to go. He does not like it. He wants to believe that a few jumps on the trampoline, mowing a lawn, riding a scooter, riding a bike is enough. I am convinced it is not. My sore muscles convince me that it is not enough.

After working with this program with my son for many weeks, I am convinced that this program has been carefully crafted to be balanced, to target different muscle groups, to systematically work through various skills and areas of development (balance, muscle development, strength building, endurance, etc.). Activities are so varied they kept us engaged and on our toes. Some activities are stretches, some call for bending, hopping, skipping, reaching, throwing, bouncing balls, aiming for targets, running and relays, use of the hula hoop, and so much more. Here are some sample photos of the program in action:
 Red Light/Green Light (above);
                Bean Bag Shuttle (to right)

Here is a page snap shot for you to see what part of a page looks like:

 When you click to see the arm circles link, it takes you to a short video showing how it is done. I like the way many of the videos show kids exercising in winter clothes -- I need the reminder than you don't stop doing outdoor physical activity just because it is cold enough to wear gloves.

So, here comes some nitty, gritty information:
  • The basic program Family Time Fitness, Fitness 4 Home School, Core 1 program costs $57 and comes as a download. This program works for all your kids from Kindergarten through 8th grade.
  • If you purchase the program you will want to purchase or improvise certain equipment to use when you implement the program: bean bags; jump ropes; bouncy balls (think red rubber playground balls), soccer ball, basket ball, tennis balls; hula hoops; cones; music (any) to play, possibly on a boom box if you are taking your activities outside; carpet squares (or cardboard boxes, flattened). Bean bags can be hand made, or you can use the kids’ bean-stuffed animals. There will also sometimes be requests for things like buckets, sidewalk chalk, and things easily found around the house or yard.

  • Fitness 4 Home School systematically walks the students through intentional, comprehensive activities to strengthen the muscles and improve the health and fitness, all in 30 to 45 minutes a day.
  • Some of the activities should be done outside most of the time (hula-hoop, jump rope, activities that require space), but many/most can be adapted to indoor use for inclement weather (or my son, who doesn’t want neighbors staring at him).

So what did we think?
  • I really like Family Time Fitness. It gives me a structured program that I can implement with confidence. It gives me support materials and customer service that I can turn to when I have questions and/or doubts. There are forms I can use to show our progress.
    • My son really hates Family Time Fitness. He doesn't want to do Phys Ed. He doesn't want me to tell him what to do when, ever. (I'm hoping this is a developmental issue that he will outgrow as I diligently continue to gently guide him through his adolescent years...)
    • My son's favorite activity is the hula hoop. We didn't own one before--I bought it to implement the program. So he has never used one before, and it turns out he is really good at it!
    More fun information:
    • Family Time Fitness also has other programs available – a Core 2 program, a High School program, Health classes, and Fitness/Nutrition Workbooks.
    • Family Time Fitness can also be used for co-ops and schools.

    Were there any negatives to the program? Here are the comments I have for you to be aware of:
  • A very minor thing, I would like Family Time Fitness to provide a nice cover sheet and notebook spine to be printed out and used for those who make a notebook or a spiral of the program.
  • At one point I had a question, and I called the phone number provided for t he company. I reached an answering machine. I left a message asking them to call me back. They did not call me back. Black mark down for "Customer Service".
  • The program is adaptable to being used by families with one student, but there are many activities that you just can't do well with only one student: relay races, games like "Monkey in the Middle", all variations of tag, "Red Light/Green Light" is doable but not much fun, and competitions of "Who can (whatever) the longest". One competitor, "Oh, I guess you win!" With one student, Mom automatically has to participate in activities of catch or whatever, but this mom's arthritis prevent my student from having someone to do frog jumps (and certain other activities) with.
So, overall, I am as pleased as punch with this program. I wish I had known about it when my son was starting Kindergarten. (He is starting 7th right now.) Times can be arranged, I am sure, to do some of the group games at times when I can grab neighborhood or church kids. With or without the group games, there is so much wonderful stuff here that I will definitely be using this program this year and next. After that I will look to purchasing the high school program.

DISCLAIMER:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a digital download copy of Family Time Fitness, Fitness 4 Home School, Core 1, in exchange for my honest, uninfluenced review. The opinions expressed herein are my own. I was not told what to say.
 This has been a Schoolhouse Crew Review.

To see more Schoolhouse Crew Reviews of Family Time Fitness, click below:

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