Derek Doederlein brings Fitness Buddies to Falgarwood Public School.

“We’ve noticed that when kids are physically
active it helps them with their learning.”

~ Gail McDonald, Principal, Falgarwood Public School

As the bell rings Derek Doederlein’s grade seven students trickle into class. Empowering posters, equipment and fitness stations at every desk. This classroom sends students a clear message: in here moving matters in learning!

Every student has their story and an inspired educator can read it on their face; their strengths, struggles and dreams. Derek’s philosophy: if they can come to school and experience even one little victory that day, it can make a difference.

Students walk to their desks but before they sit down, they move!

Derek cues the music and students mimick the proper movement patterns on the Functional Fitness Charts with their ‘fitness buddy,’ self and peer-correcting. When the music stops they rotate stations. Even those who “dislike PE” are being active.

Derek presented Fitness Buddies to his colleagues at a lunch n’ learn in an effort to take physical literacy beyond the four walls of the gymnasium and reach more students. Once his students mastered the movement patterns, they got to be the teachers in Mrs. Hill's grade one class.

“The goal is not just to affect one classroom of students but to go school-wide,” Derek said. “You can weave physical education into other subjects in an effective way to challenge students and give them the physical activity they need on a daily basis.”

The younger students look up to their older "fitness buddies" showing them the ABC's of physical literacy.

Derek isn't specialized in Health & Physical Education. The Functional Fitness Charts are vetted which make it easier to teach physical literacy in a way that's fun, safe and effective.

Derek first observed the transformative power of “brain breaks” when he used the Functional Fitness Charts with students who have diverse learning needs to help with concentration.

“Movement breaks help students focus so they feel more comfortable and less distracted,” said Derek. “It gives them a healthy outlet so they can get back to learning.”

Fitness Buddies was a fun way for students to learn the ABC’s of physical literacy. Moving gets their heart rates up which aids academic readiness, performance and mental wellness.

"It's fun to teach them different movements they can do at home... They love it, they're laughing and challenging each other to see what their personal best can be."

~ Grade 7 Student, Falgarwood P.S.

More Students

Fitness Buddies infuses fun into Daily Physical Activity (DPA). “It’s helpful in the long run for physical activity and strength building,” said Faith Donegan, a grade seven student.

The program boosted classroom participation in physical activity. “They can see themselves improving as they’re doing the skills,” said Derek.

One of Derek’s students, Ella Hahn, really benefitted from doing the circuits. “It helped with core muscles and balance,” said Ella. “I loved doing them in class.”


Doederlein has explored a number of cross-curricular integrations with Fitness Buddies for math, literacy and living skills.

He and Mrs. Hill created integrated math and fitness circuits for the grade one “Hundreth Day Celebration.”

“A big part of our math curriculum in grade one is learning how to count to 100,” said Mrs. Hill. “Derek and I came up with ten stations integrating yoga poses and numeracy with the number 100.”

"Some students don't have many wins in a day. They struggle with math, literacy, concentration and then they face difficulties at home...
I believe in the power of a little win."