This Program Wants Teachers to Learn to Be Healthy

TeachFitness aims to bring activity into a teacher's day.

Angela Gentile leads TeachFitness. Photo provided.

Angela Gentile leads a TeachFitness class/Photo provided

After 11 years of teaching English, Angela Gentile realized that she wasn’t paying enough attention to her health. Herding 20 to 30 students around every day was mentally and physically exhausting, and by the end of the afternoon, she didn’t have much energy left to go to the gym.

She founded TeachFitness, a program that brings fitness straight the campuses of local schools, to solve that problem for herself and her fellow teachers.

TeachFitness has a few different programs that encourage movement, all fitting seamlessly into teachers’ busy schedules. Gentile holds drop-in community classes in parks close to area schools, including Clemente Field, Horatio Harris Park, and Laviscount Park, so teachers can exercise before going home or before starting the school day. The workouts are time-based instead of rep-based, which means participants of varying skill levels can attend without worrying about being able to keep up. “They get to push themselves as hard as they want,” Gentile says. “I want teachers to feel good about themselves.”

In addition to community classes, Gentile leads on-campus guided workouts for teachers and faculty. She also runs sessions that help teachers learn to incorporate movement into their curriculums.

That doesn’t necessarily mean jumping jacks between math problems, though. “There’s not a chance [in the school day] for movement to be natural,” Gentile says. Instead, instructors have to get creative.

As a teacher, Gentile would have her students participate in scavenger hunts around the classroom, for example, as a way for them to get up out of their chairs. Outside-the-box thinking like that, Gentile says, could improve the health of teachers and students everywhere.

“Getting teachers to take care of themselves will be a revolution,” says Gentile, who is transitioning into running TeachFitness full-time, and hopes to expand her classes throughout Boston, and eventually nationwide.

“I would love to create a whole darn movement,” she says. “I think this is something that is so necessary.”