As physical education majors, my department holds myself and my fellow students to certain standards. We have to maintain fairly healthy lifestyles and pass fitness and skills tests administered every so often. We should be able to run/walk 1.5 miles in under 12 minutes, perform some arbitrary number of press-ups and crunches, have an acceptable body fat measurement, and successfully complete a handful of other tests in the battery.
Today I drove out to the school that I’m assigned to work in during my field placement in March to meet with my facilitating teacher. I made my way back into the gymnasium and waited for my FT to arrive. The first bell of the day rang and students began filing in. Not long after I spot a grown man shaking hands and talking with some of the students and figured that had to be the man I was looking for. I had to hold back a slight grimace as the man who had addressed himself as “Coach” in our e-mail correspondences turned out to be a bit on the side of overweight, and it was quite apparent that that overweight wasn’t purely from having far too much muscle mass for his frame.
We walked down to the locker room while discussing some aspects of my field placement, and that was when I met Coach’s co-teacher. I didn’t know what to make of the situation. I wasn’t sure if this was a joke, or if this guy was seriously a physical educator. I was shocked because if I counted Coach as “a bit on the side of overweight,” then this man was well over the line of obese. The simplest way to put my first impression of these two gentlemen is that I’m positive they would not be allowed to graduate from the physical education program that I’m going through today. They know what they’re doing, but they don’t exemplify it.
As physical educators, we have to be able to set an example for the products we hope to produce from our instruction. If you want your students to buy into the information that you’re giving them about maintaining healthy lifestyles, then you have to show those individuals that you believe in the material you’re teaching. It’s the same for strength coaches: if you want your athlete to commit to the program, then you have to show that athlete that you believe in your methods and the program. Having an obese physical educator in your school is telling your students “you guys can have a long and healthy life, but it’s also perfectly okay if you take nothing from this class and decide to just let yourselves go.”
The “Do it because I told you to,” approach is not as effective as it once was. The approach should be more along the lines of “Do it because it works, I’m an example that it works, so are my other students/athletes, and I can show you the science to back it up if you’d like.” Anything less should be unacceptable.