Rethinking Physical Education with eFit

by Tim Mousel, Founder, eFit Software

A Journey Through Time: From Houston Community College to Lone Star College – Online 

My teaching journey began in 1993 at Houston Community College, where I had the opportunity to educate and inspire countless students. Over the years, I honed my skills as an instructor and continued to grow professionally. Eventually, my path led me to the Kinesiology department at Lone Star College, where I currently teach. 

Transitioning from a traditional classroom setting at Houston Community College to an online environment at Lone Star College has been challenging and rewarding. It has allowed me to explore new and innovative ways of teaching physical education and kinesiology while reaching a wider audience of students without access to these courses. 

Embracing the online format has also enabled me to incorporate cutting-edge technology and tools, such as eFit Software, into my courses. This has streamlined the teaching and grading process and provided students with a more engaging and interactive learning experience. 

Throughout my career, I have remained dedicated to embracing change and innovation in teaching. This mindset has allowed me to adapt and thrive in various educational environments, from the traditional classroom at Houston Community College to the dynamic world of online learning at Lone Star College. 

As I continue to teach and inspire students in the Kinesiology department at Lone Star College-Online, I remain committed to seeking new and innovative ways to enhance the learning experience, both for my students and myself as an educator. 

Rethinking Physical Education: How eFit Software is Transforming Online Teaching 

The digital age has revolutionized how we approach education, breaking down barriers and opening up new possibilities for teaching a wide range of subjects. However, the transition to online learning has proven more challenging for some disciplines, like physical education, where hands-on instruction and direct observation have long been the norm. In this article, I’ll share my journey of determining the need for eFit Software, my innovative solution, and how it transforms physical education classes at Lone Star College and beyond, proving that even the most hands-on subjects can be successfully taught online. 

A Story of Innovation: The Origins of eFit Software 

My experience with eFit Software can be traced back to 1993, when I encountered a significant issue in my classroom: students fabricating their self-reported activity logs. This made it challenging to assess their progress and participation in physical education courses accurately. Seeking a solution, my colleague at Lone Star College-CyFair, Ronnie Nespeca suggested having students wear activity trackers to provide more reliable data and deter them from making up their logs. 

While this approach improved the accuracy of the data collected, it presented a new problem: the vast amount of data generated by these activity trackers proved overwhelming and time-consuming to analyze and grade.  

Creating the eFit Solution: 

This realization sparked the idea of eFit Software, a comprehensive and automated solution designed to streamline the grading process for physical education instructors. eFit integrates seamlessly with popular activity-tracking platforms like Fitbit and Google Fit, collecting real-time data on students’ physical activity. Leveraging advanced algorithms, eFit automatically assigns grades to students based on their activity minutes and steps, using criteria set by the instructor. 

Transforming Physical Education at Lone Star College: 

With eFit Software, faculty at Lone Star College have effectively transitioned their physical education courses to the digital realm. By providing an accurate and objective assessment of student performance and progress, eFit enables instructors to inspire and motivate their students to lead healthy, active lifestyles. 

Not only does eFit facilitate grading and assessment, but it also allows instructors to create custom workouts and leverage pre-built workouts based on student goals. Additionally, the software provides a wealth of data for instructors to track and compare student progress over time, leading to more informed teaching strategies and improved student outcomes. 

Student Feedback on eFit Software: 

Over the years, we’ve received numerous positive testimonials from our students regarding the use of eFit Software in our physical education courses. For instance, one student, Mai, a freshman at Lone Star College-CyFair, expressed how eFit transformed the way she feels. She said, ” I am gratefully enjoying your course, to be honest, I have never ever feel so refreshing like right now, for instance, my strength, endurance, and especially my weight all have improved a lot. “. 

Another student, Dorry, a freshman, highlighted how eFit helped her transform her health and confidence. She explained, “It has helped me be more confident at the gym and confident as a person and so far I have lost 32 pounds throughout this course which I find mind blowing! “. 

Using eFit has made a big life change for Mark: “I am just sending this as a thank you because your class actually made me work out and diet. I worked hard to be #1 on the eFit leaderboard, because of that I lost over 30 pounds though out the semester so I really appreciate that, Thank You!”. 

Vaughn had a similar experience: “I wanted to share that I’m down 14 pounds and my diet has changed drastically since starting this class!”. 

Using technology was new for some students, but overall was a good experience as Regina shared, “I wanted to say thank you for having me in your class this semester! I learned a lot and I appreciate that very much! It was difficult keeping my heart rate up with my blood pressure medication working against that (lol) but I definitely needed the push to be more active. I will be taking some of what I learned and applying it to my daily life. (I have already started, actually.) I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I appreciated this experience. Thank you again!“ 

The motivating tools built into eFit inspired students to put more effort into their workouts. The eFit leaderboard made for a friendly competition as Devon made clear in an email he sent, “Hey coach Tim just reaching out one final time to let you know I had a blast at the gym with the class and you were a cool coach and I also wanted to say I’m still ahead of you in efit Ha and tomorrow is the deadline. but thanks for the experience and remotivating me to get back on my feet to be active again in the gym as well.” 

Faculty Feedback on eFit Software: 

At Lone Star College – CyFair, eFit has been fully integrated into the curriculum, with every faculty member and adjunct professor in the Kinesiology department utilizing it in their classes. Each semester, approximately 1,000 students get the opportunity to interact with this innovative tool. The response from faculty members has been overwhelmingly positive. Thomas McCullough, an adjunct professor at the college, shared his thoughts, stating, “I am always apprehensive about change in how my classes are structured, but this was a refreshing addition. Using the activity tracker has made fitness for all of my students more interactive. They are able to see their goals met on a daily basis and seem to enjoy the competition to be the most active in their class and daily lives. My job as the instructor has been greatly simplified as eFit does all of the recording. Great help in the class and an overall great motivational tool!” 

EFit hasn’t been limited to only physical education and kinesiology classes. Monica Hernandez Valencia, a biology professor, incorporated it into her class and had this to say, “I used the eFit Software for a physiology project in my human anatomy and physiology course. I had my students record their activity data and the software generated data that we later used to create statistical measures. eFit Software allowed me to have my physiology students put the physiology they’re learning into practice. It created a meaningful activity that allowed them to see their own physiology at work. 

The software added a fun element for the students and made my job a lot easier. The service I received getting my course setup was top notch. I highly recommend you incorporate eFit Software into your courses.”

Artificial Intelligence: 

With the explosion of artificial intelligence, eFit has incorporated several features using the power of AI to enhance the learning experience and provide personalized guidance for students. Here are the AI-powered features integrated into eFit: 

  1. AI-Assisted Nutrition Analysis and Feedback: The course requires students to track their nutrition for three consecutive days using an app such as Fitbit or MyFitnessPal. After analyzing this data and comparing their food to the recommended guidelines, students write a paper on their findings. Upon completion, they can use the AI-driven “Nutrition Feedback Assistant” to receive personalized feedback that compares their writing to the assignment requirements. This offers students a valuable learning opportunity to rewrite their paper following the AI-generated recommendations. 
  2. AI-Generated Custom Weight Training Programs: Students perform a pre- and post-fitness assessment to track their progress. Using this data, their daily activity data, and their fitness goals, eFit’s AI generates a custom weight training program tailored to their needs and preferences. 
  3. AI-Created Cardiovascular Training Programs: Based on students’ personal data and fitness goals, eFit’s AI can generate a personalized cardiovascular training program for their favorite activity. This ensures that students receive guidance tailored to their interests and fitness levels, increasing their motivation and engagement in the course. 
  4. AI-Driven Custom Meal Planning: eFit automatically calculates students’ caloric needs and creates custom meal plans based on their preferred nutritional tastes. By leveraging AI, eFit can generate meal plans that accommodate individual dietary preferences, restrictions, and goals, making it easier for students to adopt and maintain healthy eating habits. 

By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, eFit has transformed how students engage with physical education and nutrition courses. These AI-driven features provide personalized guidance, support, and feedback, empowering students to take control of their health and fitness journey while enhancing their learning experience. 

Rethinking What’s Possible to Teach Online: 

The advent of eFit Software has demonstrated the potential for online learning to extend far beyond what was once thought possible. In the past, certain subjects, like physical education, were seen as difficult, if not impossible, to teach effectively in an online format due to the hands-on nature of the discipline. However, eFit has shown that, with the right tools and innovative thinking, even the most hands-on subjects can be successfully adapted to digital learning. 

Adapting Traditional Teaching Methods: 

One of the keys to successfully teaching physical education online is rethinking traditional teaching methods and embracing new approaches. eFit Software enables instructors to create custom workouts tailored to each student’s unique fitness goals, skill level, and physical limitations. By providing detailed video demonstrations and descriptions, students can learn proper form and technique from the comfort of their own homes. Instructors can also track student progress in real-time, allowing for personalized feedback and support. 

Incorporating Interactive and Gamified Elements: 

To enhance the online learning experience further, eFit incorporates interactive and gamified elements, such as a motivating map showing students’ progress on a walking journey with rewards. The walking journey keeps students engaged and gives them a sense of accomplishment as they work towards their fitness goals. 

Creating a Sense of Community: 

Another important aspect of teaching physical education online is fostering a sense of community among students. eFit Software facilitates this by allowing students to view and compare their progress with their peers, encouraging a healthy sense of competition and camaraderie. Instructors can also leverage eFit’s data to create group challenges, further promoting student teamwork and collaboration. 

At Lone Star College – Online, faculty and staff have adopted eFit as a tool for a continuous monthly fitness challenge. The introduction of a leaderboard feature has sparked a lively competitive spirit among the team. Conversations around overtaking a colleague’s position on the leaderboard have become a daily occurrence, resulting in plenty of good-natured ribbing. This increased interaction has not only fostered a sense of camaraderie but also significantly strengthened our sense of community. 

I’ve observed a similar phenomenon in my in-person interactions with students discussing the eFit leaderboard. Their conversations about their positions and progress foster a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition that greatly enhances their engagement with each other. 

Expanding the Boundaries of Online Education: 

With the rapid advancements in technology and a growing understanding of effective online teaching strategies, educators can continue to push the boundaries of what can be taught online. The success of eFit Software in transforming physical education classes highlights the potential for online learning to be extended across various disciplines. This opens up new opportunities for students to access diverse subjects and learning experiences, regardless of their geographical location or personal circumstances. 

Embracing Change and Innovation in Teaching and Life: 

One core philosophy guiding my approach to teaching and life, in general, is the willingness to challenge the status quo. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it should always be done that way. Embracing change and innovation can lead to incredible growth and improvement in various aspects of our lives, including the classroom experience. 

Thinking Outside the Box: 

As educators, it’s crucial to approach teaching with an open mind and a creative spirit. Thinking outside the box allows us to develop novel ideas, techniques, and tools that can significantly enhance the learning experience for our students. This innovative mindset can result in more engaging, interactive, and practical lessons that cater to diverse learning styles and help students achieve their full potential. 

Enhancing the Classroom Experience for Students and Faculty: 

By adopting innovative teaching practices and incorporating new tools, we can create a more engaging and dynamic classroom experience for our students. This helps students stay motivated and interested in their learning and allows them to understand the subject matter better. These improvements in the classroom experience can also benefit faculty by streamlining processes, reducing workload, and providing new insights into students’ progress and performance.