School's goal is one million push-ups

November 22, 1996


Staff Writer

A million may not mean much when you're talking about government budgets.

But it's almost a year's worth of push-ups for students at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, where the formerly dreaded exercise has taken on new meaning since the school adopted a 1 million push-up goal for the year.

"I'm really into it now," said seventh-grader Bernard Trost, 12. "I think it's pretty cool because we've got to work harder at push-ups. I've done every push-up that we've been able to do. I never give up."

While students work to reach their goal, the physical education staff is seeing its goal realized as well, said teacher David Flowers.


That goal is to get students to do more push-ups - and to do them all correctly - in order to boost students' upper body strength for better performance on the Super-Fit student fitness test, Flowers said.

Students do the push-ups together as part of the warm-up session at the beginning of each physical education class, he said.

Each day, the number of students in class is multiplied by the number of push-ups they did, and the total is added to the running school total.

A graph on the gym wall charts their progress, Flowers said.

They started counting Sept. 3, he said, and as of Thursday afternoon, students had completed 339,537 "acceptable" push-ups.

In addition to working toward the collective goal, students are competing against each other, Flowers said.

Each grade has been divided into two groups, each vying to complete the most "correct" push-ups by the end of the year, he said.

The push-ups can be the regular kind, with the body stretched straight out, or modified, with students on their knees. Even the modified version is a challenge for most students at middle-school level, Flowers said.

The competition aspect has proven an effective motivator, said Flowers, who said it was difficult to get most students to do even a few push-ups during warm-up exercises last year.

Push-ups aren't looked at as a chore anymore, said seventh-grader Scott Arnett.

"They actually want to (do push-ups)," said Arnett, 12. "It's so you can beat all the other gym classes."

Although he said he could do push-ups correctly before this year, Arnett has noticed they've gotten easier. He's hoping that will translate to more pull-ups next time he takes the Super-Fit student fitness test.

Arnett was able to do a couple of pull-ups the last time he took the four-part physical fitness test. But many of his schoolmates have found it impossible to do even one, said physical education teacher Sabrina McCoy.

The test measures fitness in four areas: upper body strength, tested by number of pull-ups; cardio-respiratory endurance, tested by a one-mile run; flexibility, tested by a "sit and reach;" and abdominal strength, tested by number of sit-ups, McCoy said.

In the past, the requirement to complete at least one pull-up has prevented many otherwise fit students from earning a certificate in the Super-Fit program, she said.

Talking about the problem, Flowers, McCoy and instructional assistant Tom Flowers came up with the push-ups strategy as a way to boost students' ability to do pull-ups, since both exercises use the same muscles.

Seventh-grader Kami Knight thinks she and her schoolmates are benefiting from the project.

"It's good because it's encouraging kids to do their hardest because it's a competition," said Knight, 12.

The students should near the million mark near the end of the school year, McCoy said.

Although the logistics need to be worked out, the plan is to stop at 999,999 so that the millionth push-up can be done simultaneously by every student in the school, she said.

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