A Springfield Celts rugby player, Blaze is one of about 430 New Berlin High School and Junior High students who will be participating in a CrossFit-like competition this spring. Students will challenge one another through a high-intensity circuit workout, as made popular by the trendy conditioning regimen.
While the top three and the most improved in each grade will receive awards, the goal is to help the participants get healthy for life.
“It has to make it more exciting,” Blaze said about the competition. “It will keep you in shape.”
A second-year teacher at New Berlin, Luke Figge wanted to replicate triathlon competitions used at other schools. Because New Berlin doesn’t have a pool, Figge chose another approach. He sought out sponsors to help afford prizes and new fitness testing software.
“I just wanted to add something new and something different,” he said about the competition, which will combine strength and speed exercises with the triathlon concept.
To train, Figge’s students complete circuit workouts, alternating between lifting weights and running. It’s important to combine cardio and strength training for peak physical health, Figge said. For the May competition, high schoolers will run and perform six strength exercises, which the students will help select. The junior high students will run a half-mile and then perform 100 sit ups, 100 push ups and 150 body weight squats, and then they’ll run another half-mile.
“I want to expose them to different fitness elements, really to meet the fitness for life aspect,” Figge said. “It’s important that they have the knowledge and the skill set in order to carry on an active lifestyle.”
The circuit exercises show kids they can be healthy anytime, even without a gym membership or fancy equipment, he added.
‘It always makes me do better’
Even during training, the classes are competing. Students track their speed and the amount of weight they can lift so they can improve. The workouts leave the teens sweaty, winded and in need of water.
The friendly competition helps athletes get in shape, said John Finke, a freshman.
“You can do weights based on your own personal stats and you’re racking kind of against yourself,” John said.
He said he’s never done circuit training like the class is practicing now. It’s a conditioning method he said he’d use even after graduating.
Seventh-grader Ben Butcher is using the circuit training to get in shape for baseball, basketball, football and golf.
“It’s exciting,” he said about challenging his peers.
Ben Rathgeb, another seventh-grader, agreed the competition provides motivation to boost his strength and speed.
“It always makes me do better,” he said.
Junior Katie Nichols is the only girl in Figge’s high school fitness class. She said it’s a good feeling to feel tired because it means she worked hard.
Alex Tate, a junior, said students are improving their long-term fitness through the challenge. Alex enjoys tracking his progress. He’s developed stronger legs, which will prove useful during both the track and cross country seasons.
“It’s a little easier to measure, and you feel better about yourself because you see yourself gain weight, you see yourself make improvements,” Alex said. “Working out in high school consistently is going to make it a lot easier to stay motivated when you’re not in the high school environment anymore.”