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Personal training, health teacher rides through virtual teaching

Benjamin Hamm teaches personal training, and health 1 and 2 at East Senior High School. He’s working to help his students take these classes with a physical focus and adapt them for a virtual setting.

Normally students would head to the school’s weight room to start the year, moving quickly into training, working on the athletic fields or interacting with peers. This year, Hamm said the curriculum is moving slowly.

He said he wants to make sure students stay focused and engaged – a job normally aided by Hamm’s desk, a bike desk, to be exact.

The bike desk came from a psychologist’s office in the school. Hamm said he noticed it one day and inquired whether it had a purpose.

“The psychologist had purchased it for students to use to reduce stress, but it never got used,” he said.

He took the bike desk, and used it in his classroom up until the closure.

“I’d have it in the corner and if I noticed a student fidgeting in class, I’d let them take a spin as long as it wasn’t too distracting,” Hamm said. “Now that I don’t have students in class I’m using it while I teach remotely.”

He said biking while teaching is a challenge in itself, making sure he’s not too breathless to talk, and making sure he’s not swaying too much while pedaling.

So far, Hamm has covered more than 163 miles, and he said he’s going to have many more on the bike desk before students are back in the classroom.

Hamm said one challenge of the personal training class has been the ability to correct students’ posture using only images on a computer screen.

“I’ve had students watch videos about how to do some of the things we’d normally be moving around or on the floor doing in class,” he said, “but videos only go so far.”

One suggestion he has made to students is to use a broom handle to ensure spine alignment with three points of contact, a common struggle when learning proper form.

He said he wants students to be aware that not all instructional videos they may find when seeking supplemental information in their virtual learning are accurate or safe to follow.

Hamm is also working with his personal training students to identify what equipment each has at home, which he said is a good challenge to face.

“It would be the same way if they were to meet a client at their home. Sometimes you have to get creative with what you have to work with,” he said.

For his health classes, Hamm said the materials will be much the same as if students were learning in the classroom. The class will also parallel other subjects, like physical education, in giving students opportunities to be active and move away from the computer screen.