Danny Steele’s physical fitness routine

Danny Steele is the Active Schools Co-ordinator in the Plockton cluster. Photos by Willie Urquhart.

Hot on the heels of our exercise feature by Fiona Weir of Skye Gym in our previous edition, this week Danny Steele – Active Schools co-ordinator – shares his mini-fitness challenge for Free Press readers to try

About Danny

“I have been the Active Schools co-ordinator in the Plockton cluster for eight years. I have worked in Plockton covering all the local primary and secondary schools with the main aim to get as many kids active as possible by providing sustainable sessions through the network of fantastic volunteers and coaches that we have in our area.”

Setting goals

“Now more than ever physical activity is essential for us all, especially for the kids who are now at home and without physical education provision from schools or access to the after-school sessions and clubs that they used to attend. The benefits of doing some daily exercise are numerous and we can all do something – whether it be vigorous or easy- depending on your level of fitness. The great part of sport and exercise is that you can do it alone or with family and there’s always the opportunity to try and better yourself day by day and set personal goals that are tailored to your own ability.”

Mini-fitness challenges

“I have five mini-challenges that can be done in your own home or garden and they cover various aspects of fitness. Kids and parents should keep a weekly diary of these and work towards improving their own scores through the coming weeks”. Here are the exercises:

Thirty-second speed-bounce

All you require is a small clear space and something small to jump over – a rolled-up towel or sweeping brush works. Lay the object down and then jump over it and back continuously for 30 seconds ensuring you take off and land with two feet together each time. Count the number you manage and try to better this daily. To make harder to extend the workout time by five-seconds after each week. This exercise is good for cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular endurance.

Sit-ups / Crunches

Again for 30 seconds find a soft floor or use a mat or towel if on a harder surface. The aim is to start with your shoulders on the ground and your hands behind your head with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Each sit-up counts as one repetition (rep) – count these, and again try to better your own score each week. These work the core of the body and improve muscular endurance. To make them harder you can extend the time or to simplify just do shorter ‘crunches’ rather than a dull sit-up.

Sit and reach

Remove your shoes and sit on a flat surface with legs straight and slightly apart with to pointing up, it’s important that your knees are flat on the ground. Place a ruler or a similar flat object between your feet and push forward slowly with one hand on top of the other. At the farthest point, you should mark and measure how far you reached. Try this three times and mark your best score and again try to improve this weekly.

Thirty-second star jumps/jumping jacks

Start with legs together and hands down by your side. Jump into a position where your legs are spread wide and hand clap overhead and then return to the starting position of your feet together with your hands at your sides. Continually jump like this for 30 seconds and count every full jump completed. Keep a note of your score and try to better this weekly – again once it becomes easier you can extend the workout time.

Thirty-second push-ups

Start in a position on all fours with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and palms on the floor with arms and legs straightened. Lower your body down so your chest nearly touches the floor and then push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat this and count each one for 30 seconds. It is important to keep your body straight when doing these and ensure you’re using your arm and chest muscles. This is a good strength and muscular endurance exercise. To make it easier start on your knees and try to build up muscle to then move onto full push-ups.

All exercises are best done with someone else there to count and assist. The key point to remember is it’s not a competition with others. You’re just trying to improve your own personal bests. It’s much more beneficial to do fewer exercises correctly than doing more but with the wrong techniques.