By Emma Crawford Kent
BOONEVILLE – Students at Hills Chapel School were the first to see some of the exercises in a new physical education curriculum inspired by the television show “American Ninja Warrior.”
One of the show’s contestants himself, Dorian Cedars, was at the school Friday afternoon to show off his own exercises and introduce the ones he helped develop for the curriculum.
Students from Hills Chapel, Wheeler Elementary, Marietta Attendance Center and Tupelo Christian Preparatory School were in attendance.
The curriculum was developed for Project Fit America, a public charity that promotes fitness and helps schools bring fitness equipment to their campuses.
Cedars, also a global fitness ambassador for PFA, has competed on “American Ninja Warrior” for six seasons and has been a finalist three times.
The television show follows competitors through extreme obstacle courses.
Across the nation, more than 1,000 schools participate in the program.
Mississippi has more participating schools than any other state with nearly 200 in the program that have PFA equipment on their school campuses.
The equipment is funded by grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield Mississippi.
Cedars has been working with students and staff at Hills Chapel to finalize the curriculum.
Hills Chapel students were guinea pigs, in a way, trying out the new exercises and giving feedback to Cedars and other officials.
The new curriculum will soon be distributed to PFA schools across the country.
Cedars said he wanted to work with the program to put new twists on classic exercises.
“I based it upon a lot of the training I do for ‘American Ninja Warrior,’” Cedars said.
Cedars said he fears students get bored after they’ve mastered basic exercises, and he wanted to find a way to keep them engaged in fitness by creating more challenging exercises.
“I want to get kids active, get them off the couch and teach them that exercise can be fun and challenge their skills and what they think they can do,” Cedars said.
Pam Stroupe, physical education teacher at Hills Chapel and national trainer for PFA, said the curriculum Cedars has created will be an expansion of the current program.
Stroupe said the new curriculum focuses on building lower and upper body strength along with back strength.
As for Cedars’ visit to the school on Friday, Stroupe hopes the “Ninja Warrior” will inspire students to exercise and challenge themselves to be stronger.
“I hope that they have a wonderful time and understand the importance of exercise,” Stroupe said.
Dayton Palmer, eighth-grade student at Hills Chapel, was one of the 20 students who tried out the new curriculum.
Palmer said he enjoyed the exercises and thought they struck a good balance between difficulty levels.
“It’s not too easy but not too hard at the same time,” Palmer said. “It works your muscles the way it’s supposed to.”