Nassau Zone Review/PR Weekend

This first weekend in March was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a very long time.  I don’t mean to imply that I haven’t been having good weekends, but I mean that this was was just that spectacular.  So spectacular, in fact, that the following is a play-by-play of the epic win I just experienced.  I’m writing this now, before I do my homework, so that nothing can detract from the awesomeness of March 4th, 5th, and 6th (pre-6pm).  Let’s begin:

After a rather early 5:30 alarm on Friday morning, I headed to Adelphi for the Nassau Zone conference, at which I was presenting.  The car was packed with food to fuel me, exercise equipment for demonstrations, and what could have been more tension than a knife could cut.  I don’t think that I’ve been that anxious about something since I learned how to tie my shoes. (Which I did for the first time at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate, if you were wondering.)

I pulled up to Adelphi at 7am, checked in, and began the process of moving some gear into the presentation room.  With some help from my friends, everything was ready by 7:30, and all I had was time….which made me more nervous.  After registration ended at 8am, Nassau Zone president Tara Nelson and NYS AHPERD President Mara Manson gave an introductory speech, welcoming the attendees to the conference.  At 8:05, the conference began!

During the first session, I attended ‘Got Skills‘, from NASPE secondary teacher of the year Jeana Haag.  During the activity-based session, Haag demonstrated a circuit used to teach and assess the skill-related fitness components.  These components are balance, speed, agility, reaction time, power, and coordination.  It was essentially a Combine style activity, which I enjoyed.  As important as health-related fitness is, students need to develop skills that enable them to participate in a wide variety of activities, and this circuit contained a number of activities that allowed for skill-related fitness development.  If I was implementing a circuit to assess these skills, I could very well implement this circuit, which consisted of a dot drill, a body weight squat on Pillow Disks, a paddle ball juggle, a standing long jump, ball-drop reaction time, and a 10 yard shuttle run.  What’s nice about this simple circuit is that it can be modified using variations on all of these tests, allowing it to be used for nearly any sport unit you can think of.  Very simple tests, very important results.

After Jeana’s unit, it was time for my presentation.  Ten minutes was allotted between each presenter, so I had time to head upstairs and prepare.  As I headed upstairs, I asked Dr. Manson if she was nervous the first time that she presented, and she calmly shook her head no.  I laughed, and she said I would do fine which helped me relax about 2%.  After I was upstairs, and my equipment was set up, I paced nervously and drank some water.  The slides were ready to go.  Nothing left to do but…sign some observation sheets?  It turns out that a few students required signatures to prove their attendance at the event, and it felt pretty cool to be able to sign as the presenter.  It definitely helped me relax right before the presentation began.

The Application of Functional and Efficient Group Training in Phys. Ed.

During my presentation, I discussed how to how we should be training, how to decide if exercises are a good idea or not, how to plan an individual workout, and what to do before and during a strength training unit during physical education.  When first planning my presentation, I was nervous I’d have too much time, but I ended up running out of time towards the end!  Here is a quick summary of what I covered.

Exercises should abide by the Joint by Joint Approach.  Sure, you can curl and shrug your way to a muscular physique, but we should be starting kids with basic compound movements like chin-ups, deadlifts, push-ups, and squats.  Develop stable motor patterns, demonstrate good mobility, and learn how to move your body through space.  Add heavy weight when that becomes too easy.  As for an individual training session, I used a simple phrase from Jim Wendler to explain how to move through a workout: “Stretch, Lift, Sprint.”  A ton of information was thrown at the attendees, and I think such a simple phrase helped them understand how to sequence things a little better.  During the ‘planning’ section of the presentation, I touched on the importance of Yoga and Gymnastics units to help students develop kinesthetic awareness and flexibility.  While I’m usually not the biggest proponent of yoga, I feel it can be a valuable tool for teaching students how to move and control their bodies, and prepare them for a proper strength training program.  However, if you decide to spend all your time doing yoga in a hot room, we’ve got a problem.

The most important thing to consider for strength training during physical education is individualization.  Students need to feel that they are in control of their body, and the adaptions that will occur as a result of training.  If programs aren’t individualized according to a students goals, and that student isn’t involved in the planning process, they won’t experience that moment of self-actualization which can motivate them to be active and train hard for the duration of their lives.  Educators need to balance a generic frame work with individualized training programs so that each student can achieve their goals safely while developing their respective levels of fitness.

In reality, developing a base for proper strength training develops before kids even think about strength training.  It begins when our young students use their imaginations to imitate how gorillas walk and frogs jump and butterflies fly.  If kids are running, jumping, climbing, and tumbling at an early age, and we push them to be as active as possible, we’re putting them on the path to great health.  The biggest prerequisite for strength training is basic movement and body control skills.

After I crammed in the end of the presentation and had some time for questions, I fielded one about BOSU Balls (Spark notes: they’re good for rehab, but ditch them if you’re healthy) and then received a humbling compliment from an educator in the field, that pretty much made my day.  I stuck around for about half an hour chatting with a former professor of mine from Nassau and a woman who was so excited that she told me, “I’m hungry, and I think I’m going to go shred this [the handout from my presentation] and eat it, because you just fed me so much information.”  After quickly repacking the car and grabbing food, I was off to the third presentation.

I was pretty excited when it was over!

During the third presentation, Cathleen Dnyprowsky and Alyson Lamonte of Oceanside School District discussed ‘Accountability  & Assessments in Phys Ed‘, which gave the audience a look at policies and procedures the two were using at Oceanside High School.  While the topic wasn’t very glamorous, it was certainly important and educational, especially for a student to see.  Hearing about the ‘business’ side of teaching was important, and the pair explained how they grade skills, knowledge, and personal/social responsibility.  Their hand out consisted of a number of rubrics used, and I’ll be using them to develop some of my own assessment tools.  The rubrics assessed student participation, performance, and personal review of each and every lesson, and provided the framework for the grading policy.  Daily results could be plugged into software that calculated grades on multiple factors, and can easily provide feedback on student success to the teachers.  As the session came to a close, an athletic director in attendance pointed out just how important accountability was for physical education, as the field is being hit hard by budget cuts.  This session was definitely under-attended, and provided a great deal of ‘real world’ information to those in attendance.

During the fourth and final session, Ann Griffin, an adapted physical education consultant from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, demonstrated a variety of equipment modifications.  We journeyed from one end of the gymnasium to the other, and she demonstrated almost a hundred modifications, with the emphasis on making physical education accessible for students of all ability levels.  Griffin could be considered the Willy Wonka of modified toys and games, and it was amazing to see the no-tech, low-tech, and high tech toys she used to include all students.  Of all the examples Ms. Griffin demonstrated, two of them stood out to me specially; her modified badminton equipment, and the progression she uses for tee-ball.  To facilitate proper striking with the badminton racket, she showed us rackets that had over-sized playing surfaces, as well as rackets with shorted handles, easing coordination issues.  Additionally, she offered solutions for the shuttlecock.  These included an oversized, underweighted rubber shuttlecock that flew very slowly, an oversized one that moved at regular speeds but provided a larger target, and an oversized shuttlecock attached to 18″ of fishing line, so students could strike it more accurately.  With these modifications, it’s possible to involve ALL students in the game of badminton.  The tee-ball progression was equally as innovative.  A number of funnel devices could be added to a regular tee, to allow for the use of larger balls, such as Gatorskin or Beach balls, or balloons.  This allowed students to progress from a larger target to one that was closer in size to a traditional baseball.  When a moving target was introduced, the Zip and Hit training aid was used.  The device is essentially a ball that travels down a string, and allows students to make contact with a ball traveling a fixed path.  For those with visual tracking issues, this makes contact a lot easier.

All in all, the Nassau Zone was a fantastic event.  Jeana Haag, Cathleen Dnyprowsky & Alyson Lamonte, and Ann Griffin provided a ton of information, and I hope that those who attended my session learned a little bit more about how to simply the strength training process.  As teachers left and I prepared to workout, I passed Dr. Manson who told me I received some great reviews.  I had a blast, and hope to continue  my involvement in the Nassau Zone and NYS AHPERD.

Later that day, I benched the easiest 275 of my life, did some easy 20kg kettlebell snatches, and headed out to Buffalo Wild Wings with my girlfriend, who constantly puts me to shame at the dinner table.  Pound for pound, she easily eats twice as much as me.  Totally a keeper.

Saturday morning, we finished watching Clash of the Titans, which had epic special effects.  As good as it was, however, I’m happy that we don’t live in a time with vengeful gods, snake-haired women, and the evil Krakken.  After a good Chobani Greek Yogurt (Strawberry and Banana, if you’re wondering) we headed over to the gym around 1pm.  Saturday’s have become ‘kick Maria in the ass day’, and this day was no different.  After some pretty high volume pulling on Wednesday, she was in the mood to pull heavy, so I set her up for a win.  After triples with 150, 165, and 180, she finished with a triple at 185.  I was pretty excited and tried to give her a hug, but little Miss Perfection shoved me away because her knees caved slightly.  She wanted another go at it, so I took a video of her taking a single at 185.


(Isn’t she adorable?) She finished the rest of her workout, went home to shower, and then came over so we could watch the Notebook, talk about our emotions, and save baby rabbits.  Alright, that didn’t happen, but it sounds good.

Move to Sunday morning, and it was MY turn to deadlift!  After some box jumps, BRosen and I set up the trap bar in the ‘aerobic studio’ to take advantage of the new iPod dock we bought, and blast some Rage (Against the Machine).  I don’t have any videos of Bryan, but I do have a video of my 405lb pull.  This was a PR last week, and today I also hit 415lb before I was done.  We finished up with some front-foot elevated reverse lunges (superset with body saws) and then I completed a 10/10/10 circuit with KB Swings, KB Goblet Squats, and Split Squat Changes, and then I jumped rope for a few minutes before wrapping it up.  The workout felt great, and I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight.

Those two videos came from my recreated YouTube account, which you can find HERE.  I lost the password to the old account, and because of the Google by-out of YouTube I couldn’t recover it.  Some of the old videos are linked through, and I plan on uploading videos much more frequently now.  One of the reasons I made the new one, with the user name HaroldGibbons, is so I could upload directly from my phone.  I’ve had a few issues with my Droid 2, but I like that I’ll be able to upload videos from the gym to my account in a matter of seconds.  It should make it a lot easier to upload videos, and will save my camera from getting dented and covered in chalk sitting in my bag.  Hopefully I’ll be able to add at least a video a week, and preferably more.

Now that the Nassau Zone is over, a huge stressor over the last few weeks is gone.  I have some school projects due in the next few weeks, but I should hopefully have more time to blog and learn on my own.  I’ve been finding new blogs to read, I have unfinished books and DVD’s, and I’d like to catch up on my learning, and on your learning, as much as I can.  I had a fabulous weekend, and I hope that yours was equally as fun.

In honor of a good weekend of learning and lifting, here’s a motivating little picture from EliteFTS.


3 Replies to “Nassau Zone Review/PR Weekend”

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