At GALS, we start each school day with Morning Movement. Starting the day with Movement prepares our students (and staff) for the school day, improving alertness, attention, memory, and cognition, not to mention social interaction, community interconnectedness, self-esteem, and (of course) physical health. Teacher-student relationships are strengthened as teachers workout alongside students — sweating and struggling, laughing and achieving together. Students learn through experience how consistent effort and work over time generates big results, and this translates powerfully in the classroom. Students are exposed to a variety of fitness modalities and sports throughout the school year, giving them access to and experience in a diversity of sports and workout styles.
Students are grouped into Wellness Teams, which are small groups of students paired with one teacher, and students workout together in their Wellness Teams. On Mondays and Wednesdays, students start their days with yoga. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students start their days with a cardio-strength class. Every four weeks, Wellness Teams rotate to a new module, whether that means a different style of yoga or a different cardio-strength module.
We start the school year with the Running Module on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which runs for about 8 weeks. At GALS we believe that if you have a body, you are an athlete, and what better way to experience that than through running — an activity that requires only your body. Students measure their progress throughout the 8 week module by participating in timed mile runs, with the end goal of improving their time. Students are grouped into “pacing groups,” and teachers lead them through a structured periodized training program, which includes longer distance runs, sprint/speed training, tempo running, and strength workouts. Students are led through self-reflections throughout the module, where they reflect on their progress and effort (and how those two are related), as well as their self-efficacy, and how this all translates into other aspects of their lives.
Students start their day with yoga each Monday and Wednesday throughout the school year. Yoga has incredible benefits, including but not limited to improving muscular strength, flexibility, mobility, and coordination; improving posture; improving mindfulness and concentration; reducing stress; and reducing inflammation in the body. For more information about the benefits of yoga, check out this article from Yoga Journal.
We work with professional, certified yoga teachers from yoga studios in our community who each bring their own unique and diverse styles of yoga to our students and staff. Students rotate to a new instructor and a new style of yoga every four weeks, which keeps the workouts fresh and the students engaged.
For one of their cardio-strength modules on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7th and 8th graders spend four weeks in a self-defense class, learning skills that empower them to identify potential danger, act with confidence and independence to avoid conflict and get to safety, and, if necessary, to physically protect themselves from an attacker. Students learn skills from a variety of martial arts modalities, including jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, and judo. Our self defense class is taught by two professional instructors from Team Bully Buster, a martial arts and self-defense gym for kids and adults based in Studio City.
Team Games & Team sports
Students engage in a variety of team games and team sports on cardio-strength days, such as dodgeball, Ultimate, Mighty Mighty Scoop Noodle, soccer, flag football, and more. Team games and team sports provide students with many benefits and opportunities for skill development, including fine motor skill development, coordination, team building and cooperation, creative thinking, effective communication, and sport-specific skill development — not to mention a a fun and effective workout!!
Dance & zumba
We work with professional choreographers and dancers for our dance program, providing opportunities for students to learn a variety of dance styles straight from the pros who live and breathe dance. Dance workouts are fun and high energy, and are set to music that our students know and love. Dance provides students with a vehicle for self-expression and creativity, and helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Dance improves cardiovascular strength and endurance, as well as muscular strength, balance, and coordination. Dance fosters social encounter, interaction, and cooperation; a sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy; and overall cognitive development.
Spin & Strength
8th grade students participate in a four-week cardio-strength module called Spin & Strength, a comprehensive cardio-strength workout set to high-energy music. Utilizing equipment provided by UCLA Health, students learn how to safely and effectively use spin/indoor cycling bikes, ellipticals, and stair stepper machines, as well as SandBells and dumbbells. Students learn not only how to use this equipment for an effective workout, but also learn calisthenics (resistance training with one’s own body weight). Strength training and calisthenics provides incredible benefits to students and staff, improving overall fitness, increasing lean body mass, building and maintaining stronger bones, and improving mental health. Moreover, since calisthenics is all about moving your own body through space, students move better when performing everyday life tasks.
All students participate in two four-week circuit training modules, where they complete comprehensive calisthenic and light-equipment workouts with their Wellness Teams set to high-energy music. Students rotate through different cardio-strength stations, and workouts are progressive in intensity to foster growth in students’ physical strength and stamina. As with the Spin & Strength class, this type of training provides incredible benefits to students and staff, improving overall fitness, increasing lean body mass, building and maintaining stronger bones, and improving mental health. Moreover, since calisthenics is all about moving your own body through space, students move better when performing everyday life tasks.
Teacher Choice / Student Choice
The final cardio-strength module of the school year is “Teacher Choice / Student Choice.” Teachers choose a fitness modality or sport that they are passionate about and excited to teach, and students choose which class they’d like to take. Teachers have taught a multitude of classes in this module, including flag football, volleyball, line dancing, hula hooping, and more!
The Galympic games
During state testing, to counter the mental intensity of the state exams as well as provide increased movement and fun opportunities to support students during this time, GALS hosts the Galympic Games! Wellness Teams compete by House (which are groups of three Wellness Teams - one from each grade level) in a variety of physical and mental team games for the coveted prize of Galympic Champion. The Galympics are a positive movement-based outlet for students during state testing, and foster not only a sense of healthy competition, but also a vibrant sense of community across all grade levels.