Kristin Cowell: Strengthening teaching through weightlifting

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Credit: Credit: Courtesy of flickr user slgckgc

Yearbook club adviser and science teacher Kristin Cowell teaches weightlifting classes in addition to her own personal weightlifting. According to Cowell, teaching workout classes has added to her teaching ability. "I don't do it for the money I just like it," Cowell said.

Hailey Robinson

Students at WHS have come to know science teacher and yearbook adviser Kristin Cowell, but few know about her weightlifting teaching and pastime. Cowell’s hobby started when she began taking “body pump” classes at her gym, Wayside Racquet and Swim.

“I started a year ago [by] taking classes at the gym and working with a trainer in a small group setting there, and got really interested,” Cowell said. “There were some classes that were really good and [the instructor] did some weightlifting stuff that I really liked.”

With some weightlifting experience under her belt from high school and college, Cowell tried a different kind of weightlifting than she was used to. Cowell enjoyed the choreographed, low-weight class so much that she decided to step in when her former instructor left.

“At the end of last school year [the instructor] was leaving my gym, and so I asked her if the class that she taught called body pump [was something I could teach],” Cowell said. “She really encouraged me to get certified and start teaching.”

The certification process proved to be challenging, according to Cowell.

“You get your initial certification and then you have to record yourself teaching [a class] for an hour with no mistakes, and then you get your permit of certification,” Cowell said.

After undergoing a two-day training course and lots of practice, Cowell got certified to teach the weightlifting class. Now, she is happy with her decision and continues to improve.

“I just like the feeling of accomplishment when I lift heavier, or [when] I have a really good class that I teach and I nail it, and everybody is happy and feeling pumped up after,” Cowell said. “I love that feeling and the sense of accomplishment as I get stronger and fitter myself.”

Now, Cowell says that she’s gotten the hang of teaching bodypump classes with more practice.

“[Instructors] have to memorize the choreography and the way the lifts work with the music,” Cowell said. “I’m really quick at that now, [and] I can pick up a new song in an hour or so.”

According to Cowell, the class adds a fun aspect to fitness in which her students have to focus on choreography and strength at the same time.

“The first track is a warmup and then you do a song that’s all squats [of] different widths and depths,” Cowell said.

Cowell likes the contrast between teaching at WHS and teaching her body pump class. According to Cowell, teaching a weightlifting class has not only strengthened her body, but it has also strengthened her teaching.

“It’s sort of a nice change from teaching school because these are people who sincerely just want to be there, [even though] there’s no pressure on them to be there. They just want to come and work out with me, and I love that,” Cowell said. “It [also] gives me a different perspective on how to encourage people in another way.”

According to Cowell, just about anyone can do the class she teaches.

“I get a mix [of people, and] they’re almost all grown-ups,” Cowell said “I get some that are like myself–sort of young middle-aged. I also get some older people; I get men, women [and] people in their 20s who just want to get back in shape.”

In order to make her classes more accessible, she gives her students opportunities to adjust the class to their own ability or comfort level.

“Anyone can come [to the class], and [I] just scale it by changing their weight or their range of motion,” Cowell said.

Cowell continues to do Olympic weightlifting for independently of body pump, while also teaching classes during the school year.

“In the summer I taught a lot, where I would teach two [classes] in a day and that’s a challenge,” Cowell said. “I go lighter weight and take it a little easier I really just teach twice a week now and do my own thing the rest of the week.”