TRAINING PERSPECTIVE: At Recess with the Kids
Todd F. Reinhard firstname.lastname@example.org
As I�m sure all you Science Surfers are aware, last month�s issue of
Training Perspective went off the deep end and found us rappin� with the
fleet-footed, freestylin�, side-steppin�, back-spinnin�, peace-teachin�,
zonin�-Zennin�, Bloughchi-preachin� Danceman. Steve Blough is his name,
and footbaggin� is fo sho his game!! Well, I have to be honest with you
all. I had so much foot-stompin� friendly fun and have received such
favorable feedback on that interview that I�ve decided to extend recess for
yet another issue! �Why?� you ask. Oh, not sure really. Let�s just call
it a spring break�or maybe a tapering phase of a periodized Training
Perspective macrocycle. Perhaps Steve�s poignant insight and impassioned
charisma has in some magical mystical way set the stage for this issue.
Whatever the case may be, Training Perspective is an ongoing journey. It
must move freely and naturally, much like a gently flowing stream�or perhaps
like an angry seething tide. It must progress in the spontaneous manner of
an unbridled child. And so it shall. This issue is about a woman who
trains perspectives of children and thereby smoothes the way for the ebb and
flow of time. Read on as your mild-mannered reporter discusses with
crusader Chris Chapan, among other things, the dire need for ingraining
healthy attitudes within the impressionable fabric of society�s youth.
FITNESS FOR FUN: Chris Chapan Passes the Torch
Most of us have heard the stagnant clich� that old habits die hard.
Granted, the statement is nauseatingly trite, but it nevertheless serves to
convey a great truth. The great truth is that life�s insidious habits take
root at a startlingly young age and become increasingly obstinate as the
wheels of time roll on. ��Tis but the nature of the beast!�, cries a
hapless society! Yes, society all too often blatantly shuns the merit of
the aforementioned platitude and pompously dares the beast to wrest
voracious talons into infertile soil. Continually reinforcing nonproductive
and lackadaisical behaviors and attitudes, society provokes the beast to
mercilessly fetter and throttle itself. Let there be no mistake. In the
main, society is tragically misdirected and downright dangerous!
Fortunately, however, within this very same society there also exist those
outstanding members who choose to serve as foundational fortresses and
empowering agents for the future. These stalwart members stand strong
against swaying forces of witless self-destruction and dare to vigilantly
lead rather than blindly follow. Yes, albeit rare, true visionaries do
exist. They are prime movers. They realize that strength and power are
products of efficiency and balance. They intrinsically understand that the
most efficient means of culling humankind is a resolute focus upon proper
education and total integration of YOUTH! I recently had the pleasure of
sitting down for a heart-to-heart with one such visionary woman. I urge all
of you to likewise sit back, relax, and absorb the sheer vitality that
exudes from Chris Chapan, a truly great and humble architect of history.
Well Chris, to commence, I might as well get my most heartfelt �thank yous�
out there! Certainly, I realize how busy you are, and I want you to know
that your time is very much appreciated. On that note, just how do you
manage all that you do in a typical day and week? I mean teaching third and
fourth graders throughout the year is a rather formidable task in itself,
but in addition to that, you are a devoted wife, a certified fitness
trainer, a competitive runner, a writer, a singer, a website moderator, and
a very active member within your Christian church. Phew!! Talk about
multitasking!! That�s quite a resume you�re building for yourself! It took
me considerable effort just getting all that out in a single breath, and I
have the feeling that I�ve missed some things to boot!!
Todd, I do not like to think about it either. It makes my head spin.
(Editor�s Note: Indeed I did miss a few things, and it�s no wonder that
Chris�s head spins!! For more on Chris�s resume, please refer to
Ahhh�so THAT�S your secret!! Chris, you have an obvious passion for today�s
youth and a desire to instill the principles of fitness and nutrition within
its lifestyle. What exactly is it that provides the catalyst for such a
campaign? Why is it that you have focused your energies so intensely upon
guiding the children along these lines?
First, thank you Todd for the opportunity to participate this interview. I
think when you make a lifetime commitment to diet and exercise you have to
share that passion with others. As a full-time teacher, I wanted to
positively influence the children whom I teach. My passion seemed to
spread, and I soon wanted to become a personal trainer. I obtained my
certification through ACE, but I really wanted to specialize in fitness
training. After reviewing the curriculum of various organizations, I was
much impressed with ISSA�s attitude and commitment toward the students.
This passion for healthy living is important because there are many things
in life I have no control over. Children are moldable and open to change.
This is why I decided to take the Youth Fitness Course through ISSA.
On your website, you speak of a time in your life when you were struggling
with your own weight and fitness, and perhaps even a case of depression that
is so common within our society today. Can you elaborate somewhat on those
days, as far as on how you were feeling and the impetus for change that
overtook your life?
Originally, I lost weight at 27. My younger sister was getting married, and
selfishly I did not want to be the fat older sister at her wedding. Within
six months, I lost thirty pounds. Unfortunately, her engagement did not
work out. But by that time, I had lost the weight. I got married three
years later and slowly began to put on the weight. In my case, I went from
a job I hated to one I liked. But the stress and pressure from my job
caused me to put on ten pounds in 3 months. Sometimes even positive job
changes can bring about negative stress.
I understand that you were tremendously inspired by Bill Phillip�s Body for
Life Program. Is that correct? At risk of sounding like an intro for an
infomercial, what was it that attracted you to this particular program?
Yes, I am a BFLer. I found out about the program from my youth pastor. I
thought that the program was very sound and balanced. You eat six small
nutritious meals a day and exercise as well. I also thought I could do it
because the plan is simple and basic. When you make a transformation, you
want to make an impact on someone else�s life. After unsuccessfully trying
to change my family and friends, I decided to become a personal trainer to
help other people. This desire to help people led to my other great love of
teaching the youth of tomorrow.
Considering the vast number of roles you have taken upon yourself to play,
surely there are times when you feel overwhelmed or daunted by the rigors of
Yes, quite often Todd.
In what ways do you now cope with these feelings when they strike?
I look at life as a gift, and I am thankful for all the wonderful
opportunities that have been given to me. Recently I finished up my second
annual class I taught at my church about health and nutrition to middle-
aged women. My life is exciting, and everyday I get to make a positive
impact on the future generation. I am happy at my job and blessed to have
friends at the PCTC who are supportive and always willing to help new
trainers along the way. My background in education has been a perfect fit
for being a CPT.
Do you tend to cope differently now that you have embraced a lifestyle
devoted to physical fitness than in previous times?
I often remind myself to enjoy the journey of life. Who would have known
someone who feels incompetent in writing is now writing a column every month
for AtoZ Fitness, doing consulting work for Kimbo Music Company as a lesson
plan designer, and moderating two Yahoo Clubs. In high school, I was the
class klutz and now I am leading children�s fitness in my classroom, an
after school care program at my church, and most recently a recreational
As mentioned previously, you are also a devout Christian. Personally, I
don�t believe that true fitness exists without a strong sense of faith and
spirituality. Can you tell us how you first became acquainted with the
Christian lifestyle and how it relates to the different areas of your life,
professional and otherwise?
I am blessed to have two Christian parents, but I needed to make the choice
to have Christ in my heart myself. Often I still reevaluate my life and my
beliefs. I do not understand how anyone can function in this world without
a deep personal faith in my Lord. Fitness and Christianity are friends that
go hand in hand.
You have recently taken up writing fitness articles for children as yet
another means of getting your message out to the masses. How do you foresee
your future as writer?
I would like to continue at about the level I am at now. In the future, I
hope to do seminars about fitness to help parents and someday trainers
incorporate fitness into children�s/clients� lives.
Does writing serve as a creative release for you at this time, or is it more
of a labor than anything else? What got you interested in generating
written material as a communicative tool?
Upon obtaining a nearly perfect evaluation from my boss at the end of the
year, my head teacher told me about some areas I needed to work on. It was
quite humbling and difficult to take. One of the areas I needed to work on
was my writing skills. I took a class over the summer and continued to work
on improving that skill. I guess that the hard work is starting to pay off.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I am very much interested in how you have
come to integrate all of these endeavors within your life. Do you tend to
view yourself as a �distinct� individual each time you don a different
professional hat, so to speak? If so, what hats seem to naturally fit you
best? Are there any that just feel too big or too small at this stage of
your career? OR do you simply regard your hat as a �one-size fits all�
I feel that whatever I do I am a teacher and influencer. It does not
matter whether I am instructing in a gym, church, or school. I think of
myself as a witness for the Lord. That really makes me think about my
actions toward others.
Chris, as you know, children are literally mental sponges of the earth.
They absorb and process information as blank slates. The stimuli that enter
their processing database can have a HUGE effect on the habits and thought
patterns that will predominate during later years in life. That said, how
do you perceive the messages that modern Western society is sending to these
children? Are they generally healthy and beneficial, or are they
deleterious? How are the high-stress demands that Corporate America has
placed upon parents and other primary caretakers influencing the overall
well-being, physical and mental, of the youth?
Todd, you know the statistics are very discouraging. Childhood obesity has
doubled in just the last twenty years. I work at a private school that
caters to professional parents who both work. Often children go out to eat
every night or are fed by their nanny or house cleaner. But there is a
glimmer of hope. This winter I conducted a fitness class during my
lunchtime period. I had to turn away children from the program for lack of
space. Next year I plan to do four classes if I have ample help from the
school�s psychologist. My parents and immediate supervisors are supportive
of my efforts.
It�s wonderful that you have such a strong support system behind you. But
now I�m really curious about something. Earlier you stated that you had
unsuccessfully attempted to change some of the habits of your family
members. I am personally very familiar with the desire to convince those
around us that fitness, which I will loosely define as an individual
integration and balance of the body, mind, and soul, is the path to
happiness�and yet I am also very familiar with the fact that many people
resent others who attempt to alter their belief systems and habits; they
will therefore vehemently resist and attempt to justify themselves by
embracing their nonproductive attitudes even more doggedly. My first
question to you is, �Have you ever felt isolated because of your passion for
positive change and development? If so, how did you contend with these
feelings?� On a related note comes my next question. �Upon seeing the
success that you are currently experiencing within your career, has your
family come around to your way of thinking and ceded to make some of the
positive changes of which you were so desirous earlier on?�
I often feel isolated because of my attitudes toward fitness. I have learned
that there are many people with whom I cannot share this passion. But I
have to be a strong person and not allow the opinions of others who do not
take care of themselves to affect my attitude toward keeping a healthy
lifestyle. At times I still struggle with emotional eating, but I have to
remind myself that excessive treats will not cure me of my problems. Facing
difficult situations will. Most of my family members have just accepted
that this is just the way I am. My mom, who has been VERY SUPPORTIVE and
has even been the proofreader for my articles, has allowed me to do some
personal training with her adult special-education population. They love to
do simple aerobics, stretching, and parachute exercises. Whatever activity
I do, I have many volunteers willing to participate. It is great practice
to work with an adult game group for a change.
My husband is very supportive of my efforts and rarely questions my spending
for fitness supplies that I use in my training. Many people at my church are
pleased that I am doing some training with the children. I have even
received thanks from parents that their children look forward to my �gym
As a certified fitness trainer, you are very familiar with exercise and
nutritional programs designed to meet specific goals and health
recommendations for people of many different populations. Can you give us
basic guidelines on how you structure programs for your kids?
My specialty is with the five through ten-year-old population. I try to
have activities that are safe and fun, and which work the entire body. I
also try to stress activities that children can do at home while teaching
younger brothers or sisters.
My nutritional program consists of learning across the curriculum. If
anyone is interested in learning how to teach nutrition in the various
subjects, have them check out my article within the October Issue of
Do you have a general underlying philosophy concerning things that work
verses those that do not work?
I read a lot from the internet, print non-print materials, and ask up-to-
date gym teachers many questions. I also try to do safe, age appropriate
games. Input from my clients and students is equally important.
What types of activities should kids embrace?
It depends on the group. My after school care kids like music as they work
out, my church group likes games without a lot of instruction, and with my
other groups I try to balance skill and practice in my teaching. In my
classroom, I try to do activities to correlate to what I am teaching about
in reading, math, Language Arts, etc. Kids like learning basic skills,
doing races, relays, and activities. Avoid? I avoid activities that easily
bore students, and I do not do activities that are heavy weight based or
plyo- metrics. For instance, my after school care group loves jumping rope
and hula-hooping. My recreational center group does not like those
activities but would rather make up their own games with the hoop and jump
rope. Go figure.
What about nutrition?
I try to model nutrition by eating right when I am supervising a table at
lunch and talking frequently about good health. I teach from the Food
Pyramid, Color Eating Guide, and BFL Philosophy.
What are the concerns, and how should they be best assessed and addressed?
Perhaps you can refer us to some of the articles that you have written on
Todd, I think that all of my articles give great ideas for teaching fitness
to children. I really like my Elementary Youth Fitness Essential Articles
on stretching, cooperative learning and relays. I am working on a great
resource I hope to have in the future on Parachute and Hula-hoops.
When you encounter the parents, say before or after school or during
conference sessions, what kind of reactions do you tend to get?
I am very fortunate that most of the parents are supportive of my
I mean, do you sense that there is genuine gratitude there for your
heartfelt efforts, or is there perhaps a sense of envy and hostility that
emanates? What about nonchalance? How do react professionally and
Most parents are supportive, but many still are tempted by the easy road of
fad diets. I try not to take nonchalance personally.
Chris, you are obviously in flow right now�making things happen and getting
things done. To what degree has your formal education paved the way for
your personal journey? Can you tell us a little about your formal
I have my BS from North Central University in Elementary Education and my
MA from Governors State University. I did my master�s project on peer
tutoring and Howard Gardner�s theory of eight different ways of learning.
The �tell, show, do� is a simplified form of these methods. Trainers
often utilize this method in teaching their clients.
I am a big fan of inspirational quotations and of visionary figures who have
made or who are currently making remarkable contributions to the betterment
of society as a whole. Do you have any personal role model figures, famous
or otherwise, which you especially admire and respect?
I think Christ is my first role model. My parents are also incredible. My
mom works with the handicapped adults, and my dad, after he retired, became
a pastor and gets to minister to senior citizen motorcyclists, and he visits
the shut ins. Next would be Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King. They
overcame incredible odds to become great men with a mission.
What about quotations?
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Do you have any personal advice that you can throw at us to keep us
invigorated and moving forward?
If you are looking to make a difference in this world, find out what your
passion is. Sometimes it takes a while. And remember that all of us are,
and should be, on the journey. This is very important if you have something
in your life that brings you down. Not being able to have children at this
time is one such thing with which I must contend.
Chris, before closing this discussion, I�d like to briefly revisit a
previous question if I may. I know that you recently wrapped up a busy week
of conducting parent-teacher conferences. Now, I can remember back (WAY
back) when I was in grade school that conference days could invoke a number
of emotions--depending of course upon the degree of effort I had applied to
my studies over the course of the quarter. Now, as an adult, I would be
very interested in hearing a teacher's perspective on the parent-teacher
consultation. I mean, diplomacy is an absolutely CRITICAL skill to master
when discussing the behavioral habits and intellectual capacities of the
babes with their beholders. Can you tell us about some of the challenges
with which you have had to contend along these lines? How do you go about
obtaining positive results in a situation in which you must convey
some "less than flattering" remarks about a child to his or her overly
sensitive parents or guardians? In short, can you elaborate on some of the
dynamics that occur during these intimate sessions? Perhaps more
importantly, do you notice any significant changes in the children
themselves following these conferences?
First of all I pray a lot. Next, I try to think about the child and the
parent. How would I feel if I were in the parents'/ child's shoes? Third,
I try and deal with tough issues as a teacher before conferences. Fourth, I
deal with difficult situations when I am the freshest. For me that is the
morning and the early afternoon. I also prefer phone calls and face to face
meetings. Emails and notes are very impersonal. After taking this approach
I can honestly say that I have never hated a child; I have always been able
to reach the student in some way. I look at every situation--no matter how
painful-- as a great learning experience. Some children, I will admit, I
don't miss when they are on vacation. Last, I keep it in mind that problem
parents drive everyone crazy. It�s only a matter of time before you see
them make someone else's life looney.
Chris, obviously there is MUCH more we can discuss here, given the various
roles you play and your extreme depth of immersion in each. However, in
respect for your time, I am going to cut to the chase and simply ask if
there is anything that you would like to add that you feel has not been
adequately addressed or emphasized to this point.
As usual, you have more than adequately covered the bases. Thanks for the
interview, and I wish you well in the future.
Chris, with the most sincere humility I pay homage to the POWER OF WOMAN!!
It has been a pleasure discussing these matters with you, and I very much
hope that together we can all assist in expounding your energy, enthusiasm,
and dogged resolve in assuring the quality of the future. Thank you very
much for your time, and I personally wish you the very best throughout your
Chris Chapan is a true testament to the power of change and transformation.
From my armchair in the ivory towers, detached, I speculate that Chris�s
ever-evolving talents are the inevitable results of spiritual dynamics.
Chris, as she matures in her role as a gentle yet unflagging mentor, is
ironically in the process of becoming a disciple of those very youngsters
whom she directs. She has been struck by a great epiphany: to teach a
child one must know a child; to know a child, one must think like a child!
And thus the derivation of her boundless energy and enthusiasm�the ability
to view the world through the dreamy eyes of an awestruck child�.Mel Gibson,
eat your heart out�. This is the Passion of Chris! Two thumbs up!!