The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

StuartShip - How To Start Healthy Movement Programs

Reader Stuart Wood knew that the way to healthier communities is getting up and teaching it. He wrote me several impressive notes of using my work to fix his own injuries, then for his Boss, then requesting if he could use it formally to teach community projects. I awarded him an Academy Appointment for Making Community Projects Healthy.

Stuart writes this update:

"After months of reading your blog I have become inspired to teach some of your information to whoever is willing to listen. I think the health and fitness situation in our country can benefit from your work and after trying it out and seeing results, as well as helping my friend to fix his bulging disc, I thought that the information you provide on your websites and in your books needs to reach more people. I read your blog regularly and have always loved the inspirational stories that your readers have supplied. The writings between you and "Inspirational Ivy" really helped to make me realize that I could be healthy and strong for many years to come as well as the posts of the Thai women in their 80's going strong! I think it is so unfortunate that aging and weakness are commonly believed to go hand in hand. I think the problem needs to be addressed when children are young and before they ingrain bad health and movement habits.

"My co-workers have been receptive to your ideas and they have helped me greatly in thinking about and learning how to effectively explain your technique.

Today I taught for the first time in a semi-formal setting. I had a friend who had helped fix his own back pain (bulged disc) take pictures for me. The first thing I learned is that I have much improvement to make in my own movement, I suggest (like you have said) that everyone have a friend take candid pictures of them to test their progress. The group of kids I'm teaching are at the Archer Center in Tucson, AZ. They are part of the CATCH after school program and I wanted to teach them some good movement habits to benefit them in their daily lives as well as in sports and play-time.

"I was not sure how to start or what to teach exactly and time was limited for each group (only about 20 minutes) so I went to the Functional Fitness Friday posts and the (main) stretches like the side-stretch (done well at right, using wall for straight placement) and chest stretch and lunge. It was quite the learning experience! The first group of children were between 8-10 or so and their attention spans were short and I couldn't achieve much with them in the short time. I think the best thing would be big exercises like push-ups with neutral spine and lunge and activities full of movement because they seemed most interested in those things. The second group of kids were older and they were very focused and interested. I taught them the side and chest stretches, emphasizing relaxation and making it feel good. I had them do the wall test and then stretch and see if they found a difference. Some did and some didn't. I realized that teaching these age groups would require multiple sessions broken down into different sessions and incorporated into games.

"What I realized most was how interested the instructor was, he felt the difference at once between improper and proper techniques. I think in addition to teaching children I would like to teach the instructors because they are the primary source of information for the children. I am also very inspired to keep at it myself because I want to be effective in my demonstrations and be a model student myself."

"My teaching from today is listed under "Teaching to CATCH program" which is an after school health and wellness program.

See the first photos of Stuart's Stewards projects at

Stuart is working on two other community programs so far, including a wellness Pilot program and a water harvesting project for his dry city of Tucson, with stories to come.

He summarizes:

"I went to the Parks and Rec Aquatics Supervisor and asked if I could teach and take some pics. The city of Tucson is starting a wellness pilot program in early January because of the high rate of strain related injuries. Because my friend (the one who I helped fix back pain) talked about the good your work had done for him with the aquatics supervisor at a recent wellness meeting for city employees, he already knew a little about what I was up to and is going to work with me to incorporate your method into the wellness program to teach employees at district meetings city wide!

"I just graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelors in anthropology. I would like to pursue graduate school but not sure in what field.

"Thanks for the graduation present, couldn't have asked for better!" ;)
Happy Graduation Mr. Wood!

More Cool Stewardship from Stuart:

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.