I’m teaching a class at Young Scholars Institute called “Mind Over Muscle” that started today. We are learning the names of all of the major muscles of the body and what exercises will work them properly. These middle school students will learn proper form, the components of a good fitness program, and will leave with a personalized summer fitness plan. I love how quickly the students learn when they are actively engaged. When your pectoralis major is on fire from the 12th chest fly, you are going to remember the name of that muscle.
I love teaching this class, but it brings back so many horrid junior high memories.
Almost all of us can remember being an awkward preteen. It was hard enough walking down the junior high staircase carrying a backpack filled with textbooks. No one expected you to do it gracefully. We just all hoped we wouldn’t be the one to fall that day. Or what about the school cafeteria? How many times did you drop a tray, or even worse, drop a tray and go sliding across the floor? Today, I was helping a student sit back into a basic squat position. The poor thing looked like a flamingo trying to sit up on a highchair. “I feel like I’m going to fall,” she confessed. “I’m deathly afraid of falling.” I got it.
Now imagine 8 other preteens who have signed up for their first weightlifting class. They’re all shapes and sizes, from the skinny little boy who still looks like a third grader, to the well-developed 8th grade girl who is busting out of her little girl shirt. Then there’s the boy on the cusp of manhood who thinks that he should be lifting 20-pound weights and doesn’t quite understand the concept of 8-12 repetitions in a set, as well as the tiny ballerina girl who is trying so hard to do a shoulder press with two 3-pound weights. Oh, it’s a circus, it’s comedic, but it’s so much fun.
I love helping an uncoordinated boy feel the balance in both arms as I try to help him build muscle memory for proper bicep curls. It’s just amazing to me that they can’t feel when their bodies are out of alignment. I love helping them balance on the stability balls and try not to laugh as they teeter and totter. I love watching the joy on their faces as they complete a set of exercises they didn’t think they could do. And I love being the one to start them thinking about having an active, healthy summer.
I’m a little worn out today, but I have a feeling my students will stumble into Tuesday’s class feeling a little more than tired. I think they’ll feel muscles they didn’t know they had. At least they’ll know the names of them.