“I Can Be Fit!” Teaches Kids Functional Fitness and Gets Them Moving
When writing the recently-released children’s book, I Can Be Fit!, Samantha Pritchard honed in on the phrase “I can.”
Pritchard, a high school assistant principal, former health and STEM teacher, and longtime CrossFitter, repeats the statement throughout her book: “I can do handstand push-ups;” “I can do double-unders;” “I can get stronger and be fit!”
- She explains this by relating the statement back to her educational background. “There’s this growth mindset where students are supposed to think about where they are and not just say that ‘I can’t do it’ but think of how they can do it and how they can grow.”
- If you “repeat things enough, build that confidence,” she continues, it teaches children and young athletes to take on the challenges in front of them.
One big thing: In the 2000s, rates of childhood obesity and pediatric Type-2 diabetes have grown significantly, children’s literature authors are doing important work by introducing functional fitness to kids in a way that can excite and inspire them.
Behind the book: I Can Be Fit!, called a “fun, empowering read for kids and their parents,” is designed to walk kids through functional fitness. The board book – Pritchard chose board over paper so it would survive in a gym – shows pictures of animals doing different movements.
Pritchard was inspired by her two daughters, who would mimic movements she did at the gym.
- “I really wanted to teach my daughter the name of these movements rather than just copying and flopping around,” she says.
- “Not just me stopping in the middle of a workout to teach her things,” she continues, “But having a guide for her.”
Pritchard also connects her experience in education to the book. Seeing students who didn’t like to move or participate in physical education classes, Pritchard started thinking of how she could “better educate students about physical fitness and their health.”
The animals: Though she says she was playing to the strengths of her illustrator – another CrossFitting friend – by using animals as the book’s characters, Pritchard uses them to link back to her science background and promote body diversity.
- “There’s an undertone that these animals can do these movements – a rhino can actually push a sled if you wanted them too, obviously rabbits are able to jump, probably on to boxes,” she says.
- “We have the panda who is a little heavier-set,” Pritchard continues, touching on the book’s diverse intentions. “Different animals have different body types and shapes.”
- It sends the message that “everybody can be fit and everyone can be working towards their fitness.”
The bottom line: Pritchard wants I Can Be Fit! to inspire active kids, laying the foundation for a more fit and healthy generation.
- “I had to find CrossFit at the age of 25,” Pritchard explains, “And it took me two whole years to build up to getting a pull up. I look at my kids and they can do everything without actually working hard at it.”
- “It took me a while to be like, ‘Oh, I have to sign up for classes and workout and learn how to workout, versus, I feel like my kids will know everything and be interested in trying lots of different types of sports and be able to move well,” she adds.
I Can Be Fit! has already proven it gets kids moving. Pritchard says it takes a long time to read the book to her own kids, because they try the movements out as she goes.