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Teachers: Please Stop Doing These 2 Things

By | blog, Ignite! At School | No Comments

We’re not “teacher bashers.”

We understand only too well the challenges of the classroom: overcrowding, underfunding, a wide spectrum of student learning styles…

We love teachers. Every year, we even give a free “Teacher’s Week” at our gym as a “thank you” to those entrusted with the futures of our kids.

Here are two habits used by some teachers that we’d like to stop. Most don’t realize the long-term implications of each (yet) and that’s okay; it’s our job to teach healthy habits outside the classroom, not theirs.

  1. Using exercise as a punishment.

When kids get a “bad taste for exercise” in school, it’s usually not because they got beaned in dodgeball. It’s usually because exercise is used as punishment for bad behavior.

“If you don’t listen, you owe me 10 burpees.”

“Stop talking or do pushups. Your choice.”

Coaches fall into the same trap sometimes. When a student is talking when they should be listening, that’s frustrating. But teaching the student that exercise is punishment for bad behavior will stick with them forever. Think of the way most adults approach exercise:

“Ugh, I have to do this because I need to lose weight.”

“If I eat this brownie, I’ll have to run an extra mile tomorrow.”

Adults PUNISH their “bad” behavior with exercise. They don’t pursue exercise for enjoyment. We’re trying hard to reverse this plight, but (as you know) habits start early.

Use “dance breaks,” “exercise breaks” or play as rewards for good behavior; not as punishment for misbehavior.         

        2. Using food as a reward.

Food is awesome. We love food. But we don’t love the emotional connections people form with eating.

Logically, people know how much to eat, and when to stop eating. Logically, we KNOW which foods are unhealthy. That’s not the problem. The PROBLEM with most adults (and, increasingly, with kids) is that we form emotional attachments to eating that are unhealthy.

“I need this sugar to get pumped up for the game.”

“If I try hard at math, I’ll get a treat.”

“I’ll eat this brownie tonight and just skip breakfast tomorrow.”

As you know, emotion trumps logic every time. And if we reinforce emotional connections to food in the classroom, kids will attach effort to “treats” as rewards.

Don’t think this is a real problem? Look up “Teacher Candy Boards” on Pinterest or Google.

You don’t need to teach kids about “grit.” You don’t have to get philosophical and teach them that effort is its own reward. You just have to stop throwing them candy when they get an answer right. Please, please stop bringing cupcakes “if the class is good.”

We won’t mention the “pizza days,” “hot dog fundraisers” and “treat tables” at events. Not yet.

For now:

Record “bright spots” on a chalkboard. Encourage collaborative competition. Give high fives. Praise effort, not outcome.

We wish we didn’t have to ask. And most teachers will read this and think, “That doesn’t apply to me.” That’s good. But if this post makes you defensive, or want to roll your eyes at “that parent who thinks they know it all,” I can live with it. If you’re unsure, ask yourself, “What’s the best legacy I can leave with these kids?”

Tutors Wanted

By | blog, Events | No Comments

teachingtheteachers

The Ignite method is practiced in schools and gyms around the world.

With the our NEW location at 130 Wellington St. East, we’re launching the Ignite Tutoring program for elementary and high school students. And we need fun experts!

Ignite incorporates exercise with academics in a “game-like” atmosphere. This service is for a normally-functioning population (no behavioral challenges.) A typical Ignite Tutoring session looks like this:

  • 5-8minute “BrainWOD” incorporating a physical game
  • 3-5 minute “Focus” Skills
  • 20 minutes of intensely productive study time

Some students will have access to an open “study hall” each month, to complete their homework assignments.

On Monday, 11/16, we’ll host an information session for potential tutors at Ignite’s new classroom in “The Tech” at 130 Wellington St. East. If you’re a teacher looking for a way to help kids and make some extra income; love exercise; and really love kids, show up and hear about a one-of-a-kind opportunity!

What: IgniteGym Tutoring Q+A for Potential Tutors

Where: IgniteGym, 130 Wellington St. East (call for room number)

When: November 16 at 7pm

Want to save a spot? Email tyler@ignitegym.com.

Today’s BrainWOD: 101915

By | wod | No Comments

Simple Jog-And-Recall:

Run 20 minutes.

At the end of the run, recall 20 unique objects–one for each minute–you noticed on the run.

Increase distance over time.

Note similarities between objects: are they natural? Artificial? Garbage? Oddly-shaped?

“Flowing” With Dirt

By | blog, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_0434

The “flow” state occurs when you’re totally immersed in a task. The body moves automatically, requiring very little conscious thought. Its preoccupation with repetitive movement “frees” the mind to wander or focus.

The state of “flow” is harder to achieve while sitting still, except for those educated in mindfulness practice. But for novices (like me,) a shortcut to total mental immersion is repetitive physical work.

For many, manual labor can be the easiest path to concentration. Some enjoy running, some like repetitive movement like Tai Chi or dance. But everyone experiences the flow state: if you’ve ever thought, “I do my best thinking while I’m driving” or “I have all my best ideas in the shower,” you’ve experienced the flow state. In those cases, your body moves reflexively, leaving your brain clear to think.

In Thinking Body, Dancing Mind, author Chungliang Al Huang discusses the path to “flow state” through mindfulness training, and also yoga (which originated as physical exercise to prepare the body for long periods of meditation.) I prefer a more down-to-earth method: a big pile of dirt.

Years ago, when my business was faltering, my wife bought me a truckload of dirt. I didn’t have the money to pay a builder, so I tasked myself with leveling our driveway. It was hard work, done in small amounts on my rare time off. But as I worked, I considered different options for restructuring my business. As the weeks passed, I became eager to “hit the dirt” on Sunday afternoons after the gym closed. In fact, I felt guilty about spending time with the dirt pile instead of my daughter, because I was enjoying it so much!

When our son’s hockey team failed to secure ice time for practices, I volunteered to enlarge the rink in our backyard. Relatives ask why I choose to shovel the dirt into place myself instead of using a tractor, which is readily available. But I consider the opportunity for physical labor a luxury; it’s recreational time for my brain. The pile of pit-run gravel requires just enough focus to block out distractions. I wrote three blog posts in my head in a single hour yesterday.

How can you enter a “flow” state? Simple labor. Walking is enough for some, but if you add external load (a weighted pack) to the task, you’ll have to work a bit harder physically and your mind will be free to focus. Try it: a simple mindfulness trick from a poor student.

Today’s BrainWOD: 092815

By | Memory, wod | No Comments

Spot the Differences

*Once you study an image, turn it over or fold the page so you can’t see it!

Study Image 1a for 1:00.

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 1b.
Study Image 2a for 1:00

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 2b
Study Image 3a for 1:00

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 3b.
Study Image 4a for 1:00

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 4b.

1a:                                                                 1b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.25.56 AM

2a:                                                                 2b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.26.02 AM

3a:                                                                3b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.26.08 AM

4a:                                                               4b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.26.14 AM

 

 

 

 

Cognitive Load and Weightlifting

By | blog, Coach Journals | No Comments

Almost every morning, I spend an hour in my garage. It’s not really a garage–it’s never seen a combustion engine–but it looks like one on the outside. Inside, there’s a pullup rig, a weightlifting platform and a wood stove. There’s no electricity because I want to hear the birds in my garden outside the window.

I don’t listen to music when I lift weights. But I DO usually listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I block out emails and text messages, listen and lift.

This week, I’m listening to the last chapters of an excellent audiobook (“Resilience,” by Eric Greitens) and building to a near-max clean and jerk AND a near-max snatch several times. I’m not great at technical lifts, so I need maximal concentration to do them well.

Today I reached my cognitive limit. After thinking several times, “I’ve gotta remember that!” while listening to Greitens, and telling myself to “think more about my hips” during the snatch, my mind was full. I started snatching badly. I began to make mistakes I haven’t made in months: early arm pull, knees drifting in on the catch. Amateur stuff that I thought I’d overcome.

But when the brain is full, your body falls back to its level of unconscious competence. When weightlifting technique isn’t yet automatic at high levels, you’ll simply perform at a low level. You fail at the margins of your experience. And when your brain is full, that margin widens.

Lifting technique and learning new material contribute to cognitive load. But so does stress. So does a clock. So does a grocery list, schedule and everything else you’re trying to remember. You can’t fit it all in.

In my case, it was easy to turn off the audiobook and regroup. But stress doesn’t have an “off” switch. When you’ve had a crazy day, lower your workout expectations. Scale down the weights and work hard at your minimum level of competency.

Step One: Make Your Bed

By | blog | No Comments

Motivation requires success.

The first opportunity for success every morning is making your bed.

Most haven’t done this for most of their life. But many high-achieving military specialists start their day by making their bed.

Admiral William H. McRaven spoke about it in his 2014 Commencement address at the University of Texas

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task. And another. And another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if, by chance, you have a miserable day, you’ll come home to a bed that is made–that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. So if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Hindu priest Dandapani speaks often of the value of rituals including making your bed in the morning. Western psychologists call these “cornerstone habits”: little habits that start a snowball effect and grow to larger accomplishments.

Tim Ferriss spoke about making his bed on his podcast last week.

The end result isn’t the important part, but the act itself. Dandapani’s earliest monastery taught him to seek improvement in bed-making every day. He started over fifty years ago. Your bed won’t be made as well as his on your first day, but focusing your attention on one simple task will help organize your mind in the morning, when the giant “to-do” list starts shelling your thoughts. Meditation teaches the focusing of attention through the practice of regaining attention after distraction. Making your bed is a simple way to start.

Ignite 101 Online is Live!

By | Certification Weekends, Uncategorized | No Comments

We’ve been helping kids with autism for a decade. The result is the Ignite 101 Online Course.

In this course, you’ll learn how to start a program in your gym and help those with autism, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, concussion, and other brain challenges. You’ll also be introduced to programs for the cognitively gifted.

The Ignite 101 Online Course is the foundation for cognitive programs. Specialty courses for autism, classroom delivery, PTSD and tutoring are in development now. But our first specialty course, ConcussionPro, is FREE for those who register for Ignite 101 before September 18.

When you register for the Ignite 101 Online Course between September 8 and 18, you’ll receive:

1. Over 50 individual modules of instruction, including theory and methods

2. Regular assignments and BrainWODs

3. The Ignite 101 Workbook

4. Unlimited access to our private Facebook discussion for Ignite coaches

5. A course certificate upon completion

6. The ConcussionPro specialty course – FREE! ($129 value)

Click here to register! Start right away!

 

IgniteGym 101: The Client’s First Session

By | blog, Uncategorized | No Comments

Winning doesn’t come from motivation. Motivation comes from winning.

In a client’s first session at IgniteGym, they’ll play. We call this the exploration stage, and the basic premise is to find something they like.

If a client feels comfortable in the gym and identifies an activity they enjoy, the Ignite coach can use the activity for:

  • Future warmups
  • Rewards
  • Integration into a higher-level challenge.

For example, if a child with ADHD enjoys swinging on the rope, his session can start with five rope swings. Then they’ll be challenged to focus on a short task before returning to the rope.

As the child progresses, rope swings can be made more challenging (swing from box to box,) mixed into a BrainWOD, or even discarded as new skills are attained.

This strategy is also VERY relevant to the average adult client in any gym. If the client can identify “her thing” early, she’ll be more encouraged to stay. For example, if she tries a deadlift on her first day, and her coach is quick enough to point out her strength, she’ll return for more deadlifts (it’s “her thing.”)

Finally, every workout should be the best part of an athlete’s day, whether working with a cognitive challenge or not. Exercise should be considered a reward. Find their Bright Spots!

Social and Emotional Functioning

By | blog, Enrichment, Enrichment for Adults, Ignite! At Home, Ignite! At School, Ignite! In The Workplace, Interventions | No Comments

Social and Emotional Functioning refers to the ability to develop and apply self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management skills which enable people to understand and manage their own and others’ emotions in social settings. Optimal functioning allows for individuals to better handle stress, make decisions (emotional and logical), form and sustain positive relationships, explore and engage with the environment, display empathy, feel confident and succeed in school and work environments.

Enhancing Social and Emotional Functioning

Being aware of controllable and non-controllable factors is a good starting place. Controllable factors such as what you eat, how much you sleep, if you exercise and how much, if managed well can greatly improve your ability to self-regulate.  Another concept worth understanding is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how emotions play a role in learning.

Ignite clients work on this skill before every session.  It allows them to choose the appropriate levels of intensity of the physical task and difficulty of the cognitive task to make every session as productive as possible.  We teach coaches how to use this skill in our Ignite 101 course for one on one clients and even groups.

Managing the Controllable Factors

We can gather some very important information surrounding these factors just by talking to the parent, client, teacher, health care professional etc.  You will want to ask some questions that give you information about sleep patterns, stress management strategies already in place, nutritional habits, how often they exercise and if they take time to stretch.

 

The 6 controllable factors that can hinder or improve cognitive functioning are:

Stress, Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Energy Level and Mobility.

On a scale from 1 – 5, we can constantly monitor the effect these factors have on our cognitive performance.

 

Stress                   1 2 3 4 5       (1 being you are unable to cope, 5 you can take on anything)

Nutrition              1 2 3 4 5        (1 being did not eat, 5 being ate a complete meal including veggies)

Sleep                    1 2 3 4 5       (1 little to no sleep, 5 slept like a baby and feel rested)

Exercise               1 2 3 4 5        (1 rainy day on the couch, 5 haven’t stopped moving)

Mobility               1 2 3 4 5         (1 too sore to think, 5 feeling limber)

Energy Level       1 2 3 4 5        (1 nap time, 5 let’s run 2 miles and wrestle a bear)

 

If we have a poor sleep the night before, we have to make sure the other factors are as close to perfect in order to maintain balance. Or to prevent a snowball effect of bad things.   Not every day are each one of these factors going to be perfect but the closer they are to 5, the better the chance you will have optimal cognitive functions. When we assign a number to rate our day we’re much more aware of how we’re doing and then have more control over certain circumstances.

 

Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s easy to see how difficult it can be to access higher order thinking needed to overcome a difficult math problem or complete a challenging 15 minute workout.  The brain’s priority system will allow us to access certain levels, only if the more important levels have been taken care of (per say).  This particular prioritizing system is the same for everyone however management of the higher priority levels differs allowing the individual to gain access to higher order thinking.

1280px-Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg

 

Other activities that boost social and emotional functioning:

1.) Meditation or Mindfulness – setting time aside to allow thoughts, any thoughts, to come into consciousness for a brief moment then letting them pass as another one comes along.

2. Yoga or Warrior Yoga

3. Coloring books

4. Answering easy questions, as fast as you can for 3 minutes.