Not the sort of bells you expect at school!

WEIGHT TO GO... Lord Blyton youngsters get to grips with instructor Phil Smith's kettlebells fitness regime.
WEIGHT TO GO... Lord Blyton youngsters get to grips with instructor Phil Smith's kettlebells fitness regime.

When it comes to exercise everyone is different.

Some people like the adrenalin rush of competitive sports, while others prefer to work at their own pace.

And it’s the same for youngsters.

Last week, The Gazette revealed how school pupils in the borough are to be the target of an anti-obesity campaign after figures revealed an estimated 12.4 per cent of under 18s in South Tyneside are classed as obese – higher than the national average of 9.9 per cent.

But for pupils at Lord Blyton Primary School in Simonside, South Shields, a new addition to their PE lessons has really rung their bells.

Since September, kettlebells instructor Phil Smith has been visiting the school, in Blyton Avenue, to put youngsters through their paces.

For 45-minutes each week he takes pupils from years five and six for weights sessions using both the kettlebells and an item called a Bulgarian Bag.

Throughout the sessions the youngsters alternate between cardio-based work including star jumps and bunny hops to strength-based work using either two or three-kilo weights.

Headteacher Joanne Atherton said: “The sessions are physically demanding but they all really enjoy taking part.

“It’s a lot different from their other PE sessions. It’s not competitive so pupils can develop at their own pace and they are always on the go. When they had done their first session they weren’t too sure about it, but now they look forward to Phil coming in.”

She added: “It is a very disciplined exercise, so as well as improving their overall fitness, it is also teaching them the impact exercise has on the body and what exercises are good to improve their cardiovascular system and what exercises are good to improve strength.”

The kettlebell sessions have been incorporated into the PE curriculum, with youngsters taking part in sessions for one term before moving on to something new.

Taylor Adamson has been taking part in the sessions since returning to school after the Christmas break.

The 11-year-old said: “I found it hard the first time I did it, but then I got used to it. I enjoy coming to the session and think more young people should do it as it exercises the whole body. And you do feel fitter after a few sessions.”

Pupil, Shay Collins, 10, said: “I have been doing it every week and I really enjoy it. I love sports and other exercises but with this you can do it at your own pace and it’s really good for people who don’t like running or competing against each other.”

Mrs Atherton said: “We are always looking at new ways to promote health and fitness to our pupils and with the recent obesity report it’s even more important.”

Kettlebells were developed in Russia in the 1700s. They are a cast-iron weight used to perform exercises which combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

Variants of the kettlebell include bags filled with sand, and there are different weights.

Ant Clennan, owner of South Tyneside Kettlebells, said: “We have seen some fantastic results with our classes for adults and, after doing more research and training into the exercise, we developed a programme for children with the same results.

“Because it’s not a competitive sport, those who shy away from exercise or who do not participate to their full potential, get the chance to work at their own pace and feel good about themselves.”

n For information on kettlebell sessions visit

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