It sounds like a new app for your phone, but FitnessGram helps schools assess kids’ health.
Long before everyone wanted an app for fitness related tracking, FitnessGram was a tool to help pysicical education professionals assess the health and fitness of school children. It has also been instrumental in battling the childhood obesity epidemic.
FitnessGram is a tool to assess fitness related to health, not athletics, and was developed by The Cooper Institute of Dallas more than 30 years ago. The tests typically are taken at the beginning and end of every school year to measure progress.
In reflecting on its origins in an online video, Dr. Kenneth Cooper seemed to foretell the coming obesity epidemic and its array of accompanying diseases in saying, “It’s easier to raise a healthy child than to cure a sick adult.”
FitnessGram tests for five components of fitness: aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. In turn, it teaches students about those key ingredients to living a fit life.
Ralph Urbanic, a physical education teacher at C.E. Williams Middle School in Charleston, says he’s been using it on and off for more than six years and what he likes is its simplicity.
“It’s all set in stone in how to do it and what to do. It’s easy to do. It’s a recipe,” says Urbanic.
Dave Spurlock, the physical education coordinator for Charleston County School District, considers FitnessGram the “gold standard of fitness assessment” for children.
As of 2012, the test was administered to 22 million children in 67,000 schools in the United States, according to the Cooper Institute website.
Following in the footsteps of many states, Spurlock says the state of South Carolina mandated the use of FitnessGram as the assessment tool after passing the S.C. Student Health and Fitness Act of 2005.