Interview with Fitter Future founder Doug Berlin
PUBLISHED: 12:35 04 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:35 04 July 2017
Fitter Future founder Doug Berlin of Welwyn on using technology in class to boost children's health
You launched Fitter Future last year, what is it?
Fitter Future is a series of online school fitness workouts aimed at four to 11-year-olds. No equipment is needed, set-up time is quick (workouts are projected on to a whiteboard in class) and can be completed in even the smallest classroom. The workouts include three tiers to cater for all levels.
All children who attend participating schools also get free access to the programme from home where they can participate in workouts and monthly challenges along with family members. We currently have 8,000 children at around 70 UK schools enrolled.
Where did you get the idea?
I worked for a sports coaching company that delivered sports sessions in schools and absolutely loved it. I then set up my own business outsourcing physical education with my business partner Ricky Lawrence. We saw a gap in the market for a fitness programme aimed at children. It was clear to see there was a demand for a simple programme that could inspire children to keep fit.
While PE focuses on the technical aspects of sport, it does little to encourage fitness. With less and less time focusing on sport and PE in schools, I could see there was a demand for an alternative.
What are the challenges?
Exercise has been replaced by technology – going to the park replaced by Playstations. We have tried to establish a positive link with technology and fitness for children.
And the benefits?
Research shows that children who are subject to regular physical activity have the potential to perform better in the classroom. Benefits of regular exercise include a boost in brain cell growth, increase in attention and stimulation of brain neurons.
Understanding the feeling of being fit is a fundamental step to give children the best chance of leading a healthy lifestyle. New workouts are added every two to three months to ensure children stay engaged.
How have schools responded?
The response has been fantastic, with teachers using Fitter Future both as a great way to start the school day and also as ‘brain breaks’ throughout the day. Teachers are seeing improvements in concentration in the class and general wellbeing, and a greater understanding of health.
Your project ambitions?
We want Fitter Future to be every primary school’s number one resource for encouraging a healthy lifestyle for children through the workouts and additional nutritional and lifestyle sections that will be added to the programme. While currently only available for schools to purchase, from September the programme will be rolled out to the public who can purchase individual 12 month subscriptions.
Fitter Future is offering all primary and middle schools a free trial of the programme. For more information, go to fitterfuture.com