Lessons From The Heart
With Beth Kirkpatrick
In the first edition of Lessons From The Heart with Beth Kirkpatrick I will be discussing how I got introduced to wearable technology and the immediate differences these products made. For anyone interested in hearing a presentation I put together on this topic click here to go to Heart Zones YouTube channel.
My journey as the pioneer of using heart rate sensors in the school setting begin in 1980. Since than I have been asked so many times: “Why do you think using heart rate sensors is so important”? Since the first few months of this journey utilizing heart rate sensors, the most important reason I realized was that I knew I wasn’t “guessing” anymore when I would encourage students to either go faster or slow down. Before having access to wearable technology it was especially haunting each fall and spring when all 550 of my middle school students ran the mile, and then later, complete the 20 meter cardio test. In all cases, following the students cardio testing, I had zero information on how hard the students were running during the test, no data from heart rate before the test, and no data from after the test. There was no way to truly measure relative intensity or an individuals improvements in their fitness levels. As a new teacher, I did not think that I could challenge either of these nationally recognized testing protocols. This caused me to simply follow, as a majority of other teachers, the national standards and conduct the testing as I was taught to do in my undergraduate work in college. No one was questioning the idea that we were testing 100% of our students and athletes without knowing if we were prescribing exercise that was too hard, or not hard enough. At the end of the year, I begin to realize, that I had no data. I mean ZERO data from all the times I had been in charge of prescribing exercise to my students and to my athletes!
I was grading based on my “observation” of 65 students at the same time in my physical education classes, using subjective “effort” as half of the grade. Imaging being challenged by parents on exactly how I determined how much effort any one student was giving, at any one moment, during an entire class period. As for the athletes, there were never any adjustment for the drills I was putting students through. All athletes did the same number of sprints in the same time requirements. I had no way of knowing how hard they were working except by “observation”. And at the end of practice, again, I had no individual data showing what each athlete had completed during my exercise prescriptions that I had designed. And I had designed exercise prescriptions for all as if they were one person with the same level of cardiovascular fitness. And I had no individualized data for tracking levels of improvement or effort. Ever. How can you be in education or coaching without a valid source of data?
It wasn’t until my dad had his first heart attack, and after my grandmother died of her heart attack at age 57, that I was really jolted into reflecting on how little I knew about the intensity I was asking my students and my athletes to give during exercise. How do I individualize exercise for my students? And always, where is my data? I had nothing when it came to real data on exercise intensity or individualized effort. Why am I still guessing when I need to be assessing?
I was at a state SHAPE convention and I first overheard someone talking about heart rate sensors that were invented for being used in cardiac rehab in hospitals and for training Olympians. And for me, that was a sign that I needed to get my hands on them, no matter the cost. Knowing that I could find money for my program to purchase this wearable technology. All that needed to be done was explaining the real need and benefit that comes from their use. This was now the beginning of my life mission for physical education programs to allow students to move to the “beat of their own hearts”! This technology finally allowed me, and more importantly, my students and their parents to have accurate data on individual students intensity. In the beginning that data would take me three hours a night to download into the first computer system anyone had seen in my school district, we were still using typewriters! Now, forty years later, heart rate sensors are everywhere and the data is available throughout the class and immediately following class. Individual student’s heart rate data reports are instantly sent to the teacher, the student, and their parents. Additionally, data is seen in real time on the Heart Zones Move Solutions “Big Board” showing each student’s live data such as heart rate, FIT points, time spent in individuals zones, and heart rate recovery. For me, this is magic.
In the following blogs I will show you how the heart rate data reports form the perfect picture of what your class format design is, or as a coach, how your athletic practice designs are affecting
Interested in learning more about how to implement wearable technology, such as the Heart Zones Move Solution, into your classroom? Please feel free to direct any and all questions to email@example.com for more information.