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Arlington ISD Police Academy Students Keeping Fit During Shutdown

Arlington ISD Police Academy students haven’t let the COVID-19 school closure keep them from staying in shape.

“After the closure, I emailed the students asking what optional resources they would like access to during our brief break,” said Officer Fred Kemp of the Arlington Police Department and the instructor of the Arlington ISD’s Police Academy. “I had a very positive response when I offered optional workouts in Zoom.”

The Arlington ISD Police Academy normally meets at the AISD Career & Technical Center and is a hands-on learning experience for those considering a career as a police officer. The year-long program for seniors from all AISD high schools is run in partnership with the Arlington Police Department (learn more).

Weekly Workouts Online

To help keep students engaged and active during the school closure, Kemp began offering weekly workouts via Zoom several weeks ago. Now that students are receiving online instruction for all courses, including the Police Academy, Kemp includes a prerecorded Zoom workout for each week in Canvas (the online school platform) so that students can do the workouts when it fits in their schedule.

Workouts consist primarily of body-weight exercises, but Kemp has some variety planned. 

“I plan to throw a chair and some additional household items in for kicks later in the six weeks,” he said.

Typical exercises include pushups, situps, squats, flutter-kicks jumping jacks and a lot of burpees.

“My favorite workout that we do involves a deck of cards,” said Oscar M., a senior from Sam Houston. The symbols (hearts, spades, diamonds, or clubs) would mean either pushups, situps, squats or flutter-kicks. The numbers on the card would show how many reps we had to do, and the face cards (kings, queens, and jacks) would be 10 burpees.”        

For Oscar, the workouts are more than just exercise. They are motivating and serve as a way to connect with his fellow students.

“They remind us that it doesn’t matter how hard times can be, there will always be a way to keep fighting and stay strong together,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun working out with my classmates from Arlington ISD Police Academy, even when we are not close.”

Managing Stress

The workouts also help with stress.

“The importance of the workouts stems from our own training as officers dealing with stress on the job,” Kemp said. “When under a great deal of stress, one of the best ways to keep a healthy mental state is to stay physically active. Workouts can be used as a healthy way to approach the circumstances the students are facing due to the quarantine. Workouts are free, your body-weight and running are readily available to everyone, and it is a good way to combat stress and depression.”

The COVID-19 closure has been very stressful for students, and particularly for seniors who are missing out on their final semester in high school. They have lots of unanswered questions about graduation, senior events and ultimately what happens next.

“This stressful buildup is leading students, including myself, to struggle with their mental health and become more unmotivated,” said John L., another Sam Houston senior in the Police Academy. “I chose to do Zoom workouts as a way to distract myself and relieve stress. Having yourself involved in some sort of physical activity can be the best way to relieve stress. Officers use physical training as a stress reliever all the time! There is no paid subscription to run a couple of miles or do a couple of pushups. It’s completely free!”

Find A Way To Workout

John thinks all students should be working out in some way.

“I’d highly recommend any student perform some sort of physical activity at least once a day to keep their blood flowing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to perform an extreme workout, it could be something simple like chasing their dog in the backyard or playing tag with their siblings.”

The online police academy workouts will continue until the end of the school year. Then, police academy members, which APD calls Hometown Recruiting Program members, will be invited to weekly workouts held each summer at the APD Training Center and CTC.

“We normally have a really cool overlap of students waiting to attend college working out with the students that are coming into the Arlington ISD Police Academy during their senior year,” Kemp said.

Until then, the police academy will continue online.

“Traditionally, this time of year is focused on true hands-on application of what these students have learned,” Kemp said. 

APD personnel from a variety of fields visit the Arlington ISD Police Academy and share their expertise with the students.

“With the circumstances as they are, I have received material from those specialists that would’ve been instructing and applied their content to the academy’s online curriculum,” Kemp said. “If we can’t meet in person, we’ll at least cover the content those instructors felt is pertinent.”

And the workouts will continue, of course.