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Jefferson High School Takes New Approach to Fitness

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KGAN/KFXA) - Jefferson High School is leading the way in student health in Iowa through an innovative approach to fitness. They're using CrossFit, a high intensity work out that focuses on using varied body movement.


"It's pretty active, you're always moving! You feel great because you’re in a pool of sweat,” Mitchell LeConte, a Jefferson High School junior said.


“It’s a definite confidence boost! It's definitely changed how I feel about myself,” Kylie Seago a Jefferson High School Senior said.  


LeConte has been a boxer since he was 12, Seago is going into the military.


"I'm definitely not an athlete, I leave in August for boot camp for the Marine Corps and I’ve been trying to condition myself a little bit, and this has definitely been helping,” Seago said.


Both Seago and LeConte are in Kelly Phelan's CrossFit striking class at Jefferson. Phelan is the head of the PE Department. She was joined by fellow teacher, Matt Orton, in an effort to bring CrossFit to Jefferson. 


"We got really tired of the kids not having fun in PE,” Phelan said.


So far, Phelan’s mission has been accomplished. Some of her students have lost up to 30 pounds, others are now taking multiple PE classes even though it’s not required.


"She's really fun, She keeps us focused!" LeConte said.


CrossFit is different from your typical gym class because instead of participating in a team sport,  it uses varied movement to focus on the individual. Orton and Phelan started getting CrossFit certified last year. Jefferson is now the only non-profit CrossFit certified high school in Iowa.


In February, the Department of Education even shot a video of the program to demonstrate the innovative curriculum.


“If we can showcase the schools that are pushing us forward, it gives other schools, targets,” Ed Thomas Ed.D, the Health and Physical Education Consultant with the Iowa Department of Education said.

The CrossFit program is already seeing success. Over the past year, PE class failure rates have dropped 7 percent.


"I am so appreciative. She’s really hard on us, She makes us push ourselves,” LeConte said while describing Phelan.


Seago agreed. She said she is now better prepared for the future she's always pictured.


”Little girls look at princesses and I looked at men in uniforms, and I was like I want to be that when I grow up,” Seago said.


Click here to see the Department of Education’s Video on Jefferson High School’s CrossFit program:

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