A brand-new component of the St. Michael’s College School’s (SMCS) Athletics programme is getting set to roll out this month.
‘Fitness in a Bag’ is a fitness programme that can be accessed and practiced anywhere, whether the user is at home, in the gym, or even at school.
It includes 16 fitness items designed to be portable and used in conjunction with an app that instructs and assists students in completing daily workouts. SMCS is the first school to be working with the product's manufacturer.
“The Fitness in a Bag concept is simply fitness that can be done anywhere,” says Rob Pacas, owner of Fitness in a Bag and the programme facilitator for SMCS.
Bringing Fitness in a Bag to SMCS
All students and staff will receive their own SMCS-branded bag and equipment as well as access to the programme through the Fitness in a Bag app.
“In line with our overall return to school strategy, we knew we’d need a plan that would provide a high-level fitness programme, continue to maintain all safety protocols, and be nimble in the face of a rapidly changing situation in our municipal and provincial communities,” says Alex Frescura ‘92, Director of Athletics.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and planning for the safe return to school, one of the recommendations made by the Hospital for Sick Children is to “delay restarting close contact sports (e.g. football, rugby), as well as indoor team sports (e.g. basketball).”
The Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association (CISAA) has also released a comprehensive return to sport approach, which SMCS is using as a guide. The Fitness in a Bag programme has been incorporated into the first phase of the plan which recommends individual exercise.
“The best component of Fitness in a Bag is the workouts that accompany the bag,” says Pacas, who is also an educator and formerly ran the Elite Athlete Program at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute. “There are full-length fitness programs, shorter fitness blasts, challenge days, mobility improvement days, and access to workouts that involve speed, agility, and quickness.”
“The best part of the workout programs are the uniqueness and different options the programs provide,” he says. “Students can follow along the plan doing each workout as prescribed, while other students may want to work ahead. If a student is injured, at the direction of the St. Michael’s Athletic Therapy team, will be able to modify their programme to focus on strengthening, and mobility for the injured and uninjured areas of their body.”
What’s in the fitness bag?
- The bag itself – an SMCS-branded waterproof backpack
- Six colour-coded strength bands which can be mixed and matched for different exercises
- Two mini bands (one lighter and one higher tension)
- One hip band
- One mobility ball
- One stability ball (65 cm)
- One skipping rope
- One set of agility markers
- One reaction ball
- One door attachment
- One mini foam roller
“I wanted equipment that has multiple options,” says Pacas. “I needed the equipment to be portable, durable, and be relatively inexpensive. I want the entire family to be able to train using the app and for the equipment to challenge each member of the family.”
Enriching the Athletics Curriculum
Since the programmes and equipment are designed to go anywhere, including at school or at home during remote learning periods, SMCS will integrate them into the health and physical education curriculum this year.
“The programme will allow every student to have access to a versatile fitness programme that can be a stand-alone part of their day or used in association with their physical education classes and competitive team training,” says Frescura.
“Students enrolled in a Health & Physical Education class (all Grades 7-9 students and some students in Grades 10, 11, and 12) will work with their teachers for appropriate workout programmes for their courses,” he adds. “Students not enrolled in those classes will be able to choose from a variety of workout programmes (for example, beginner general, high-performance hockey, etc.) based on their physical starting points and comfort levels.”
Leveraging Technology with an App
The Fitness in a Bag app features short videos of the exercises and programmes with some written instructions. Students will also have a calendar in the app that shows their workout, mobility, and rest days.
“Each morning the workout for the day will be posted to the app dashboard,” says Frescura. “Students will enter their achievement for the activity, which will help inform future workouts.”
“My favourite part of the app is that it will never stop growing. More programs can be added. Sport-specific programs can enhance the experience for every Fitness in a Bag user,” says Pacas. “Once you receive the bag in Grade 7, you will be able to fine-tune your fitness experience, setting you up for a life of healthy active living.”
Once schools can safely resume team sports and activities, Frescura says SMCS plans to continue using the Fitness in a Bag programme.
“Our current plan is to continue with the programme in support of new student onboarding, in-season maintenance, and off-season and summer training.”