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Personal trainer looking to keep students moving while handling school at home

Health experts recommend kids get at least an hour of exercise every day to stay healthy. With students at home, Danielle Alex is worried that won't happen.

TAYLOR, Texas — With many students set to go back to school after Labor Day, Danielle Alex is worried that, without a physical education class, they won't get the exercise they need to stay healthy.

For more than a decade, Alex has been working as a nutritionist and personal trainer: helping people combine staying in shape with a healthy diet. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she took on clients of all ages and physical abilities. For the past month, she has been making students a priority.

"Some of the education and curriculum that is being piloted by our school districts into the home is based on the arithmetic, the reading, the language arts," Alex said. "The physical education has, again, been pushed off to the side."

Alex focuses on the word, "adjust." We've had to adjust to the pandemic; adults adjust to working from home; students adjust to taking classes online instead of inside their school. Alex now adjusts to every student's and client's accommodations for working out.

"The most important part is the information that comes from the children," Alex said. "What they want ... what they're willing to give. Some children don't like running, some children don't like push-ups."

In order to plan ahead for each weekly workout, Alex consults with the student and their family to determine where, when and how long the workout can be. To demonstrate, she created a 10-exercise course on the sidewalk in her neighborhood. The exercises varied in their impacts from cardio to dexterity.

"A variety of movements is how our bodies were intended to move," Alex said. "These different movements are intended to improve their circulation, get them to think, get them to be aware of where their body is at. It's intended to make them utilize some of those muscles."

Sometimes, Alex will use at-home objects like bowls to mark out obstacle courses. Other times, she'll use store-bought cones instead. Alex said it's all dependent on what the client has to use.

"If they're at home and they're sitting, this is intended to get them up, get them moving, and, as you can clearly see, to sweat which is ideal," Alex said.

Most of the sessions she schedules take place in the morning, in order to avoid the heat, and last about 45 minutes to an hour.

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