Exercises to squeeze into the school day

Too busy to exercise? Never fear; we've got a selection of quick hacks to turn your classroom into your own private gym

Seven exercises you can squeeze into the school day

You may think that your workspace is a mere classroom but it has the potential to be far more.

Hidden among the chairs and tables is a mini gym just begging to be used during your lunch break.

Paul Kavanagh is a former-marine-turned-personal-trainer and owner of Elite Commando Fitness in Essex. 

He suggests that teachers investigate how active they are during an average day. “I would recommend that teachers use a heart-rate monitor or decent step counter to see how many calories they burn through the working day. The results will probably shock you into exercise.”

So, what can teachers try at work? Kavanagh has designed these classroom-friendly exercises:

1. You could...clean the whiteboard after the tallest teacher in the school has used it. But you'd probably find it more effective to try a press-up into plank (areas targeted: chest, triceps, and core).

How do I do it?

Grip a wheelie chair at the sides in the press-up position. Lower your chest to the seat, press up and push the seat forward, allowing body to stretch. Maintain a cat-like arch in your back when stretched.

2. You could...deadlift your marking into the boot of your car. However, it might be easier to try a hip thrust with knee extension (area targeted: hamstrings, glutes and core).

How do I do it?

Lay on the floor on your back and place your heels on the seat of the wheelie chair with your toes pointing up and legs at 90 degrees. 

Position your hands and arms flat on the floor next to your body, and then push through your heels, lifting your hips off the floor and pushing the chair away from your hips until a straight body is reached, then return.

3. You could...hurdle the mini chairs in EYFS. But it would be wiser to do an inverted row (areas targeted: back and biceps).

How do I do it?

Lie on the floor on your back with your head and chest under the desk.

Grab the desk edge with an underhand grip, your palms facing towards you. Remember to keep your feet flat and your knees bent.

As you pull up, bring your chest towards the underside of desk while keeping your knees and core in line with each other. Then lower yourself back down, with control, and repeat.

4. You could...chase away the smokers at the back fence. But you'd be better off trying a Bulgarian split squat (areas targeted: quads and glutes).

How do I do it?

Place a pile of textbooks on the floor, roughly 6in high, and place one knee on the books. Your opposite leg should be positioned in front with the knee at 90 degrees. 

Clasp your hands together in front of your chin and lean slightly over your front foot, and push up through the front leg. As you do this, make sure to push through the heel and not the toes. Your knee on the books will raise and return. Repeat for 10 and change legs.

5. You could...switch the contents of your top bookshelf with your bottom bookshelf, one book at a time. However, it’s more efficient to do a set of burpees (area targeted: anterior chain).

How do I do it?

Begin in a standing position and bend down, placing flat palms on the floor in front of your feet.

Then jump your feet back away from your body until fully extended, and then immediately jump your feet back towards your hands, stand up straight and repeat.

Paul Kavanagh runs Knives Down, Gloves Up – an organisation aimed at teenagers at risk of joining gangs, and works with schools to reduce knife crime by involving young people in boxing and apprenticeships.

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