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Family Fitness Night

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Overview

family fitness class in gymnasiumFamily Fitness Nights are a great way to extend healthy messages from school to home and educate families about the importance of physical fitness. Family Fitness Nights expose students and families to inexpensive, fun and easy physical activities that can be enjoyed together at home, as well as help families connect to fitness resources in the community. These nights can also be an opportunity to showcase your school’s physical activity initiatives so parents understand how your school is helping students stay fit.

Take Action

  • Seek approval from your principal and support from your School Health Team, PE teacher, before/after school program supervisors, etc.
  • During a School Health Team meeting (a month or two before the Family Fitness Night), seek ideas, discuss event details and delegate responsibilities.
  • Identify the space where you want to host the event such as the gymnasium or cafeteria. If you don’t have a space large enough, consider partnering with another local school or fitness facility (like the YMCA or local park district), or hosting stations in various classrooms.
  • Pick a day and time that doesn’t compete with other activities and is convenient for your school community. For example, does your school run an after-school program that could culminate in a Family Fitness Night when parents pick up their child? Are there less after-school activities in the winter?
  • Family Fitness Nights can involve whole group activities, where everyone participates in 3-5 activities together during the night, or small group activities, where families rotate between 5 to 10 stations. Choose what works best for your space and the number of participants.
    • Our favorite station ideas:
      • A Video Game Dance Mat
      • Obstacle Course
      • Putt Putt Golf
      • Balance Beam
      • Hula Hoop Roll – Two teams stand in equal lines with the first child holding a hula hoop. When indicated, the participant holding the hula hoop rolls it the length of the course and returns back to the line, handing the hula hoop to the next player, who repeats the steps. The first team to have every participant run the length of the course with the hula hoop wins.
      • Freeze Dance Game – All participants stand on the dance floor. When the music begins, players dance. When the music is stopped at random times, the participants must freeze. Anyone still moving is out. The last participant standing wins.
      • Five Pin Bowling – Place teams several feet apart, such as on the opposite ends of a gym. Place five two-liter plastic bottles weighted with sand in the bottom, or bowling pins, in the center between the teams. When signaled to start, players kick balls from their line, attempting to knock down a pin. A player who knocks down the pin must run out and stand it back up. One point is scored for each pin knocked down. The first team to get five points wins.
      • Balloon Basketball – Blow up several balloons. Divide players into two equal teams and place the balloons between them. When indicated, teams are to run to the balloons, pick up one, and attempt to get it through the basketball hoop. Once the balloon is near the basket, it can be repeatedly hit to make a basket. Balloons can also be “rebounded” by the other team. Each basket is worth two points and the team with the highest score after the designated time is the winner. Tip: The more balloons you have, the more fun the game is.
      • Gym Scooter BobsleddingDivide nine students into three equal teams. For each team, place three gym scooters in a vertical line and place a gym mat on top. Have two students sit on the front two scooters on top of the mat. The third student pushes the scooter bobsled from the last scooter. Set up cones that each team must navigate through. The first team to complete the course wins.
    • Invite local high school, college or professional athletes to set up and run skills stations (soccer, volleyball, basketball, etc.).
    • Showcase recess activities: Set up Indoor Active Recess stations to teach families what students do during bad weather and give them a few rainy day ideas, too.
    • Ask students to demonstrate their favorite classroom-based physical activities that can easily be translated into homework or commercial break exercises.
    • Invite local gym physical activity trainers and instructors to host a station or demo a class. Consider activities that are new or appeal to a broad audience such as yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, step or POUND classes.
    • Include a resource fair as part of your event.
  • Call on community partners to share information about free or low-cost activity programs, such as the local park district, YMCA and other fitness centers, health departments, local college, hospitals, and after-school sports and activity clubs.
  • Ask local business for giveaway items to incentivize attendance or friendly competition.
  • Does your school have a new school physical activity club or PE course offering (such as a Running/Walking Club or Intramural Programs)? Have a sign-up table with information.
  • Host a table with tip sheets and healthy recipes to share healthy messages.
  • Sneak in nutrition where you can – Taste test fruits/vegetables grown in the school garden, seek donated snacks from local grocery stores or highlight a recipe from the High School’s Family & Consumer Science class.
  • Promote, promote, promote! Use social media, your school’s website and newsletter, backpack flyers, and other family messaging systems to encourage participation during your event. Ask teachers if they’re willing to provide extra credit or another incentive for students that attend.

Tips

Double and triple check your activity stations beforehand to ensure they have all needed materials. Encourage families to go to all stations by creating a “passport” – When a family completes each activity, they get a mark on their passport. Once a family has completed all activities, they turn in their card for a chance to win a healthy prize at the end of the night.

Spice stations up by adding music. Get your heart rate up by movin’ and groovin’ to the beat!

Too busy to dedicate another night for a school event? Consider combining Family Fitness Night with an existing event, such as a Literacy, Math or STEM nights at your school. Find ways to show families how physical activity can be linked with classroom-based learning.

Make sure each activity is low-cost and requires little equipment to participate. Encouraging easy, hassle-free ideas at this event will encourage the behavior at home.

Coordinate your event so it coincides with a particular monthly celebration, like Heart Health Month (February), National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (May) or Walk/Bike to School Day (October/May).

Use Family Fitness Night as a kick-off to a family activity challenge during spring or summer break, like Family Activity Points.

Make sure participants have easy access to water. If the fountain isn’t functioning, seek donated water bottles from a local store or remind participants to bring their own bottles.

Always have a backup plan for outdoor activities in case the weather gets bad.

Send a thank-you note to all volunteers after the event.