reason · reflection · Whats happening in Living Active

A Dream of Living Active

Living active is a lifestyle. It is a habit. It is a belief.  This blog has stayed alive because I love to influence people to move and to be active. When we move and are active there are three things that usually happen:

  1. Our heart begins to beat faster.  2. Our bodies begin to sweat.  3. We smile and feel good.

This is the story of this website to date. This website, like many others, has been on an interesting journey that all started with one idea. It has now transformed into a way of life. I hope that as you read this you can relate to the story and I hope that when you are done reading this that you will begin or continue to live active, starting today.

This is my blog. My name is Alex O’Brien. I created this blog in August of 2012 for my job. I was the Quality Physical Education teacher (#QPE) at Washington Elementary School in the Caldwell, Idaho School District. I loved my job and I will never forget the memories and people that made my heart feel so full. I named this site for two major reasons:

  1. In 2012, at the end of the year, I surveyed my fifth grade students by asking them one question. The question was,  “What does Physical Education mean to you?” The answers I received hurt my heart. I had always believed that I was a #QPE teacher but the vast majority of my students’ responses didn’t seem to reflect that. Some of their answers were: “Physical Education means playing; it means gym class;  it means exercising.” Feeling a bit deflated by the fact that most of my students could not clearly articulate what Physical Education was all about, I figured that I had two options. I could blame the  students for not listening to me and  for not learning from me, or I could make a change and take responsibility. I chose to take responsibility.

I believe that if a person has a desire to learn something, and I am the educator that is teaching that person, then I am responsible for them to be able to understand it. If they don’t learn, then it is my fault–not theirs.

Armed with that introspection, I talked with my elementary school principal, Steve Foley. Steve is an administrator who wants the very best for each and every student under his watch. His passion and his actions to improve things and make them better is something that I respect and applaud to this day. I told him my sob story about how disappointed I was with the survey responses. I told him that I wanted to change the name of my class from Physical Education to Living Active. He listened to my reasoning and he trusted me implicitly. He agreed to the name change. It really meant a lot to me to have that kind of trust and support from my boss.

The name change for the 2012-2013 school year went from Physical Education to Living Active. It was quickly and completely adapted by every teacher, every aide, every administer and every student. We no longer referred to PE class. Or physical education class. It was Living Active class. Before long, even the parents referred to my class as Living Active.

Why did I change the name?  Because Physical Education doesn’t mean anything to most 5 year old kids. In fact, most kids all the way through high school can’t articulate what Physical Education means. But the title, Living Active, is a statement. It is something that any kid can relate to. If you ask a kid, “What are you doing at recess today?” That kid can respond, “Living active!” and that kid will know what he/she is talking about. I wanted the name of my class to be relevant to the kids I was teaching. That was why the website was created.

  1. I wanted each student to take responsibility for their self. A ‘.com’ or a ‘.org’ or a ‘.net’ wasn’t going to do it for me. I wanted them to take this personally because when a kindergartner goes all the way through the school system and graduates from 12th grade they will no longer have anyone to tell them to live active except themselves.  (This statement makes the assumption that a student who graduates from the public school system shouldn’t have to pay a nutritionist or personal trainer to help them lead a happy, healthy, active lifestyle. They should have received proper education from their K-12 teachers). So, was a perfect fit! When a kid logs onto they can say, “This website is about me. It’s about me living active!”.  And they would be right.

After the 2012-13 school year I surveyed the fifth grade students again with this question: “What does Living Active mean to you?” I don’t have to tell you what they said, right? I got responses that did not hurt my heart. I had responses that talked about diet; about food groups; about the components of fitness. Overall, I read pertinent answers to my survey question about students meanings of living active.

I’m not suggesting that Physical Education change its name. I’m simply telling a story about a teacher who learned from his mistakes and who took responsibility for the educating of the kids he loved. (I use the word ‘loved’ as in past tense. HA! Who am I kidding–I still love those Washington Wildcats!)

My life changed significantly after the 2012-13 school year because I decided to take a job with a company called Focused Fitness. Focused Fitness was the company that was in charge of #QPE professional development in the Caldwell School District. All Caldwell #QPE teachers, K-12, used the Five For Life curriculum which was created by Focused Fitness. Focused Fitness trained Caldwell’s #QPE teachers several times each year. It was incredible to see an entire district of physical education teachers working together to transform how we helped our students become healthy, active, movers for a lifetime.

I am often asked if I like my job with Focused Fitness more than when I was a teacher at the elementary school. My response is the same each time I’m asked. “I do not compare the two, because they are not comparable. A teacher is the best job in the world, period. Nothing can be compared to teaching kids day in and day out because the rewards and emotions involved in that job cannot be put appropriately into words. That being said, I love my job now and I feel privileged to be on the Focused Fitness team. I am privileged because the Focused Fitness team bus is going in the only direction I want to take #QPE…the right one.

In September 2013 I left Caldwell, Idaho and headed for Spokane, Washington. Before I left I helped the teacher who replaced me get settled. I set her up with the original blog that I had created five years prior. I am proud to say that she has taken the blog over over and kept it up to date! Check it out for yourself

I have a new job and a new life, but I still have this blog that you are now reading. I didn’t want to quit on this blog. It has changed into a more personal blog for myself. It has been that way for the past year. I try to stay steady and post regularly, but I don’t post as much as I would like.

Since I left Washington Elementary School in Caldwell, the class name ‘Living Active’ was changed back to ‘Physical Education’. That doesn’t bother me and I actually think it is great! As I said before, I’m not out to change the name, I am out to change the game.

Living Active is still alive in me. I base my life on living active every day. In my job I have a unique opportunity to help teachers across the country do the same. Every time I think about this website I think about the reasons that I created it. I created it to teach something to kids. Today the name continually reminds me that I must be a beaming beacon of light that shines each day, with a belief in Living Active.

Living Active is not about how far or how fast you  can run, or how many times you can throw a ball and hit a target…it has never been about that. Living Active has always stood for the bigger picture–the idea that moving your body ignites your mind, and when the body and mind are working together, we have no limits. We have no limits. Whatever level of fitness or activity that you are able to do is all that Living Active asks of you.

All too often we are tired, exhausted and bored. As a result, to relax , we usually sit down and turn on a screen of some sort and stare at with dull cow eyes. We must be better than that. We were built to move. We are movers. The mind and the body feed off of one another. Serotoninnorepinephrine, and dopamine are neurotransmitters that are released during exercise, or when someone is Living Active. Simply put, these 3 neurotransmitters are really good for us.

In short, I do not want to leave you guessing about what the purpose of my story is. My purpose was to move you. To motivate you. To inspire you to do what your mind wants and you body needs to do…to live active. Living Active makes us smile. It makes us think. It helps us concentrate. It helps us lead healthy lives.

I would like to leave you with a quote and a question. The quote: “A body in motion stays in motion”. The question: Have you lived active today?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s