Belinda Cox is a teacher and S&C coach living in Ontario. She is also humble and a World Record Holder for completing the most burpees in one hour.
CSCA Please tell us about your teaching experience
BC – I am going into my sixteenth year of high school teaching. I started my career in Shelburne, Ontario. When I first started teaching phys-ed, I taught the way I was mentored to teach and the way I experienced phys-ed when I was in class. It was all sport-skill based. One week of soccer, one week of basketball, one week of health…etc. It was okay, but typically most students who already played a lot of sports outside of school were most motivated in phys-ed and had the most success in the sport skills. After a few years, our student population increased and we started having timetable conflicts. I was asked to teach a phys-ed class in the weight room and the hallway for the whole semester, a fitness focused course, which meant no gym space and no sports.
Luckily, I had done a few years of strength training myself before and felt comfortable in the weight room but I did not know how to program for 27 students to keep them engaged in a very small weight room 4 days a week for a whole semester.
I started exploring different training methodologies, watched videos, attended strength and conditioning workshops, and tried to figure out how to make it work at my school with the limited space and equipment we had. Over the years, this fitness course really took off and multi-grade level sections were created.
CSCA – What motivated you to apply to the CSCA Advisory Team and join the Education Committee?
BC – My desire to develop a deeper understanding about strength and conditioning and making sure I am using the most current knowledge and practice when teaching my students lead me to become a CSCS. Then two years ago, I was looking for a guest speaker to talk about careers in strength and conditioning with my students and I reached out to Sam Eyles-Frayne and learned about CSCA. Through speaking with my colleagues, I know these fitness courses have gained a lot of traction over the last few years and more and more students are opting for this type of PE course instead of the training sport-based PE. Unfortunately, the disparity between programs is very significant. Teacher’s knowledge and comfort level of S&C and school space and equipment resources are two of the major challenges PE departments face when developing or expanding their fitness courses. I applied to be on the CSCA Advisory Team and the Education Committee because I believe CSCA can be an excellent resource for teachers to further their knowledge on how to safely and efficiently teach functional fitness in schools and develop students’ physical literacy.
CSCA – Teaching is a rewarding and challenging profession. What strategies do you use to help keep yourself motivated on a daily basis during the school year?
BC – What keeps me motivated in teaching everyday is watching the progression of the students. Everyday in my fitness class, I challenge the students to push outside of their comfort zone and I get to watch them achieve things that they did not first believe they could. I see students gradually build confidence over the course and that confidence transfers into other areas of their lives. They start to believe in themselves and feel good about their bodies. That is what gets me excited to go to work everyday.
CSCA – What are some of the strategies you and your colleagues use to help keep students motivated?
BC – What keeps students motivated? Success. Everybody wants to feel successful. The best thing about the fitness course is that it gives an entry point to everyone. One student may start with an air squat, another student may be able to do it with an empty bar, and another student may be able to do it with weight on the bar… but each person is able to participate and can make tangible improvements. When students can see their own improvements and start to have success, they become motivated and more willing to embrace challenges.
CSCA – Given your role with the CSCA Education Committee, what excites you the most about the initiatives the Committee is working on?
CSCA already has many articles written by members sharing their expertise in S&C. One of the initiatives of the CSCA high school education sub-committee is to take a number of these articles and discuss explicitly how the information could be applied in school settings. I am excited to see that. I think it will be a very practical resource for PE educators and school coaches. Also, when in-person conferences can resume this year, I hope to see CSCA represented in PE conferences across the country.
CSCA – What motivated you to set a World Record?
BC – During COVID it was difficult to help keep the students motivated, and we tried to encourage them to set big health and lifestyle related goals to help them through the pandemic. When my husband found out what the record was for burpees he shared the information with me. It was a perfect opportunity to set an example for the students about setting a goal and working towards it with action. Plus I am drawn to competitive ventures, and records are meant to be broken! It was a lot of fun, and I loved the support I received from my family, my students and my fellow teachers.
For more details about Belinda’s record setting adventure click HERE