Fit to Teach

Guest blog by Jenny  Pacey and Wayne Gordon, United Learning Sports Ambassadors.

Jenny Pacey and Wayne Gordon

Jenny Pacey and Wayne Gordon

Teaching is a demanding profession, both physically and mentally. Sustaining a high level of teaching requires a great deal of energy.

The purpose of this blog is to capture this moment at the start of term, when energy levels and enthusiasm are probably at their highest, and to highlight some core strategies that can help you to retain those energy levels. Maintaining a successful health-promoting exercise program uses many of the skills and strategies that teachers are familiar with: setting goals; mastering the basics; planning and keeping to a realistic routine.

1. In it for the long run

A lot of people work out with only a short-term goal in mind, like a summer holiday or looking good for a specific event. Your health is with you for the rest of your life so think of adopting and sustaining an exercise/nutrition programme as a life-choice rather than just a short-term intervention.

For example, instead of trying to lose Xkg in 4 weeks, aim to maintain a healthy weight for your height. This will ensure that energy levels and motivation remain high. The NHS healthy weight calculator can help you achieve this.

Try changing from goal-orientated outcomes (i.e. trying to bench press Xkg) to process-orientated outcomes: becoming the person who never misses a workout; the person who is never put off running by the rain; and who always makes it out of bed if you have planned an early morning workout. Make exercise as much a priority as going to work.

‘Exercise should be a habit not a chore.’

Short-term SMART goals and new challenges can be used to keep you motivated and inspired. These interim results can be important staging posts on the road to your longer-term objectives. When you commit to being consistent over the long term, you end up seeing remarkable results in the short term.

2. Set a schedule

In teaching the job is never finished. It is always possible to do more. Teachers are incredibly organized and excellent planners – otherwise the job would swamp them completely. It often feels like that anyway! Exercise results are achieved through CONSITANCY & VARIETY. Most people never train consistently because they are always wondering when they are going to train next. Do you ask your self if you will be motivated to workout when you get home from work or if you will have enough free time to exercise today?

The problem is most people train when they feel motivated or inspired. Instead, stop treating exercise as something to do when it’s convenient, start setting a weekly schedule to follow.

We workout for an hour a day 5 days a week and we schedule it into our busy diaries as a priority along side work, social and other commitments. The rigid nature of a school day limits flexibility – exercise has to take place either at the start or end of the day. And with the relentless nature of the work involved in teaching, it is easy to neglect your exercise, but writing down and committing to a schedule really makes a difference. There will always be occasional emergencies that prevent you from exercising but make it an essential part of your life. The problem is that most people miss one workout and before they know it, they haven’t been to the gym in four weeks.

When you have a schedule for your training, you have a way of pulling yourself back on track as quickly as possible. Let your schedule govern your actions, not your level of motivation.

3. Great results = Great exercises.

So many people waste time in the gym because they bounce around without any real goal, doing a little bit of this machine and a little bit of the treadmill. However, there is a simple rule that will always guide you toward the best exercises: the more an exercise makes you move, the bigger the benefits it will deliver; exercises that force your body to move the most (and the quickest) are often the best for calorie burn and muscle toning.

Include some of these all over body exercises in your weekly workouts:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Sprints
  • Bench press
  • Clean and jerk
  • Push ups
  • Pull ups
  • Boxing
  • Swimming
  • Up hill power walking
  • Wall climbing etc.

Try incorporating exercises into your daily routine: perform ten squats when waiting for the kettle to boil; park as far away as you can at the supermarket so you have to carry those heavy bags further; power walk to the bus stop.

4. What You Should Do – Now!

Here are your action steps to a healthier fitter you. Take the initiative now whilst your enthusiasm and energy levels are high. Don’t wait for the New Year!

  • Set a weekly/ monthly schedule. When and where are you going to train?
  • Set SMART goals
  • Get a notebook or use your diary to record your training.
  • Focus on the best exercises that make you move a lot.
  • If you’re in the gym start with a weight that is very light and train for volume before intensity.
  • Slowly increase the weight/mileage or intensity each week.
  • Mix your up training, variety = results and offsets boredom.
  • If you only manage to make two changes focus on the WW: walk more and drink more water
  • Try our home workout DVD, 15 minute fast fitness!


So there are some top tips from experts who know from experience what makes the difference between people sustaining their health-promoting exercise plans and those who look back with regret.

Teaching requires incredible stamina. Exercise and nutrition are key ingredients for sustaining energy levels through the academic year. Adopt some of the tips outlined here and hopefully you will feel the difference.

Jenny and Wayne are former international athletes and Gladiators. Now working as Pace and Go, they are part of our Sport Ambassador team at United Learning. Below are some of their essential training guidelines that everybody can use to help their exercise regimes, regardless of prior knowledge and fitness levels. They have put together these simple and helpful tips so that you will see and feel the benefits both in your personal and professional lives.