3 Ways Your Gym Can Encourage Physical Activity in Schools

There are many ways your gym can work with local schools to encourage and instill healthy habits in children. Learn from three successful programs.

  • Shannon Vogler
  • August 28, 2017
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As the last beach days of summer are winding down, it's time to begin preparing for everything that comes along with the start of fall. For many parents, that means it’s time to make sure that their children are ready to go back to school for another successful year.

One of the best ways to ensure that children thrive during the school year is by giving them access to quality physical education programs that emphasize the importance of regular exercise. After all, studies have shown that physically active students have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance, and classroom etiquette than their less active peers.

Here is where health clubs come in. Because your facilities provide a welcoming environment for people to enjoy a good workout, there are endless opportunities that you can take advantage of to instill healthy habits in future generations—including forming and maintaining relationships with schools in your community.

Here is our list of three simple ways your gym can encourage physical activity in your school district this fall:

1. Create a Fundraising Program

Sportsclub in Greenville, SC, has seen success using this type of model with schools in its area. The club created a school fundraising program that incentivizes physical activity instead of fast food restaurants.

The program began with an initial donation of $5 to the participating school for each club membership sold to an individual from that school. Following the initial donation, every person who joins the club using a particular school membership is eligible for a 75 cent donation to their school for each club visit. Schools with 25 or fewer memberships were eligible to earn up to $100 per month for their school, and those with more than 26 memberships were eligible to earn up to $200 per month.

Stone Creek Club & Spa also runs fundraisers to benefit physical education initiatives. The club has made donations to local athletic programs. They have also fundraised alongside Franco’s Health Club & Spa and Pelican Athletic Club to purchase PE equipment for the schools, while helping them develop fun games and activities for students, using the new equipment.

2. Partner with Physical Education Programs

We all know that physical activity and a wholesome diet are partners in creating and maintaining healthy habits. That is why My Sport Lady: Fitness fur Frauen, in Munich, Germany, created “Eat for Smarts,” a nutrition education program for local elementary schools. The program consists of a nutrition component where instructors teach students about fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and sugar, and explain why this information is valuable. It also incorporates a movement component where kids participate in 10 minutes of an activity which could include yoga, jumping, or another form of exercise. Pairing the nutritional activities with various forms of physical activity, helps the children understand that nutrition and movement are meant to work together.

Genesis Athletic Club, with 21 locations throughout Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, offers a modified tennis program for children under age 10. As part of its program, the club reaches out to local schools, working with PE teachers to provide them with lesson plans and show them how to teach the game in large groups. The instructor will also spend time with the youth in the class and work with the teacher to give that instructor something they can quickly apply to their PE curriculum. Through PE, the club is able to teach an easy-to-learn sport that kids can play throughout the rest of their lives.

3. Support Your Local Physical Education Program

Support can come in a number of ways—from sharing your knowledge, to helping instructors share a new sport with kids, to spreading the word about the work a local school is doing.

One way to engage with PE is to support Active Schools’ “Take Your Parent to PE Week.” During “Take Your Parent to PE Week,” September 25-29, parents are urged to attend a Phys Ed class to experience the school’s PE program. The week is intended to encourage parents to engage with their kid’s PE program. For club managers and employees with children, attending is also a great opportunity to meet and network with the PE teacher(s). Learn more about PE week on Active Schools’ website.

For more information on getting kids active during the school day, download IHRSA’s Best Practice e-book on Getting Kids Active in the School and Community, and see SHAPE America’s Back to School Guide, focused on “putting all students on the path to health and physical literacy through effective health and physical education programs.”

Author avatar

Shannon Vogler @vogler_shannon

Shannon Vogler is the Communications and Public Relations Coordinator for IHRSA. Shannon writes articles, press releases, and the IHRSA Advocate newsletter to make IHRSA members aware of policy issues that impact health clubs. She also speaks with media influencers about the benefits of working out and joining a gym. When she's not writing, Shannon enjoys running and cheering for the New England Patriots.