Get Yourself Moving!™

Thoughts on improving fitness, nutrition and learning for children and adults alike

An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Mrs. Michelle Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear Mrs. Obama:

I am a Physical Education teacher in a low-income suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. I have been teaching physical education for over 15 years to all types of students, including many students with disabilities. I applaud your recent actions to bring the epidemic of childhood obesity to the national spotlight.

Over my years of teaching I have become very concerned about my students’ overall health. I’m sure you have heard stories about how our public education system is failing in one way or another. This is especially true with physical education. It is extremely difficult to have any sort of impact on a student when you are only seeing that student for 30 or 45 minutes once a week.

I love teaching, and always will. After years of experience, however, I’ve begun to see more of the bigger picture. I realize that a single teacher, without the right tools and support, cannot help her children while larger forces are making decisions that sacrifice their health in the name of test scores or budgets. A single teacher, without the right tools and support, is powerless against today’s advertising media and marketplace that provide children with all of the negative “goodies” which rob them of healthy food and activity choices, as well as precious time.

I simply couldn’t stand still in my gym, desperately trying to bail out the Titanic by myself with a bucket – especially when I’m only able to pick up that bucket once a week!

I had to get moving – do something. Desperate to help these kids, several years ago, I got my creative going, and asked a couple of teachers if I could visit their classrooms and do some exercises with the students first thing in the morning before my classes began. They agreed and I began a little case study to demonstrate that I could improve the fitness of these students with daily exercise. It worked,  but I realized I was just one teacher, and could only do so much… or could I?

One summer, I talked this over with my husband Dan, a multimedia producer with some experience in producing videos for children. We concluded that I could get into every classroom to motivate students to exercise, if it was done using video. What’s more, with some work, there was no reason not to be in every classroom in the nation.

After nearly five years of working on this concept, using our own time and money, along with the help of several like-minded people who blessedly donated their time, we gave birth to a small business – GYMB4, LLC, and to a comprehensive video exercise system for students. More than just another kids exercise video, “GYMB4” – short for “Get Yourself Moving Before Learning” – is a battery of literally hundreds of workouts that can be done in the classroom or gymnasium, without the need for any equipment except a DVD player or a computer.

GYMB4 empowers any teacher – even a substitute – to conduct a guided 5 or 10 minute workout for the students at their desks. What’s more, the workouts are constantly changing, so children never get bored.

GYMB4 helps a school’s Phys. Ed. teacher spread health and fitness into every classroom, every day. Its design means that schools can now have daily PE, by fitting it in to the slivers of free time than exist in every school schedule. We are even working on creating a “home version” for young families, so that watching TV can now actually become a physical activity for preschoolers.

GYMB4 is now being used by a wide variety of schools in several states, from California to Connecticut, and Illinois to Texas. I firmly believe that when GYMB4 gets into the hands of teachers and parents and they use it, we’ll start seeing a big reduction in childhood obesity and the slow-motion horrors it creates. What’s more, I also believe that we’ll start seeing kids improve in other ways, such as discipline, attentiveness and improved learning. There is data pointing to this connection – that the key to academic success begins with physical activity.

If our children are not healthy, then America’s future is not healthy. I am very happy that you share this desire to change the world for our children, and that begins with changing the way they work toward their health and well-being. People listen to the First Lady. Any help you can offer in spreading the word about the need to secure America’s future by getting its children healthy and fit will do more good than I could in a thousand years.

Please “get yourself moving” and spread the word. Thank you so much!

Sincerely Yours,

Patrice M. Walker
info @ gymb4.com


Wed, February 3 2010 » Everything Else, Reversing Childhood Obsesity, The Mind-Body Connection, Thinking (and Moving) Outside The Box

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