What I Learned in Toronto

This past weekend I was honored to be part of at team of my peers and friends at the inaugural Youth Fitness Summit in Toronto.  I shared the stage with some of the brightest minds, and more importantly some the greatest human beings I have ever met.  Tom Hurly, David Kittner, Dave Jack, Dave Schmitz and Kwame Brown were my compatriots over the weekend.

Dr. John Ratey, Author of SPARK, was our keynote speaker and he gave us the foundation to build our case for re-instituting fun and fitness in to physical education in addition to getting our kids moving as much as possible.  I gave 3 presentations to physical educators, administrators and fitness professionals.

My topics covered “Fitness Ed vs. Phys Ed”, “Engage, Inspire and Impact” and “Creating a Culture of Fitness”. I have so much gratitude to Mark McTavish for organizing such a wonder 2 day event.

Even though I was a presenter this weekend. I learned. I learned a tremendous amount about being a better coach and even more about myself.

Here are the highlights:

1.) The “thinking brain is the moving brain”.  In John Ratey’s keynote address I learned that exercise literally changes the chemistry of the brain. Now I had remembered reading about this in his book SPARK, but Dr. Ratey shared how when we exercise we produce our own brain fertilizer. Yes exercise promotes brain growth and in particular the same part of the brain that is essential for memory and memory integration…LEARNING!

So why do we continually strip our kids of opportunity to be active in school? Great question, and one that needs a solution.

2.)  I came to the realization there are many people in every community that have a desire to make a difference.  The passionate teachers and administrators that spent their own money and took their own personal time on a weekend to attend the Youth Fitness Summit are heroes.  By the end of the weekend all in attendance responded that they now had the tools they needed AND they would implement change beginning the next day!

3)  There is a difference between play and exercise. That said, you can accomplish so many elements of fitness with play. Strength, cardio, mobility, flexibility, etc are all intertwined in play.

4)  Schools that are about to purchase expensive treadmills and selectorized equipment need to re-assess the effectiveness of high risk, single user pieces that do not develop skill, are boring or could potential lead to repetitive motion injuries.

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