Fitness and Goals

Carlos Ulises, Jorge, Gerardo and Luis are ready for exercise

In trying to balance a preparatory school schedule with their responsibilities at Hope House or the barber shop, our older boys had grown a little round ’round the edges. The daily soccer routine had gone on pause for months and Christmas sweets likely had their own effect. Needless to say, the director wasn’t very happy with the direction of the boys’ waist : height ratio as we entered the new year. Consider that 70% of Mexican men are overweight, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). One part of our responsibility to these boys is to teach them healthy habits for eating and physical activity.

The holiday break from prep school, which extends to the first week of February, has given them their morning soccer routine back for this month, at least. In addition, we started an afternoon calisthenics and running program that will hopefully extend into the Spring semester. Monday, Wednesday, Friday is strength and endurance circuit training. Tuesday and Thursday we meet at the local sports complex for a timed mile and sprints. The boys are loving the physical challenge.

Beyond merely giving them an outlet and a series of exercises they own for the future, we are teaching them how to set goals. Every boy has a picture of what they want to accomplish. It can be to beat a specific time or to reach a certain weight. At the end of every workout, the boys rate themselves on their level of exertion and we determine how to change the next workout to better meet their goals. Every activity is diligently recorded on a spreadsheet by them, and they write down their proposed workout for the next day. It’s been really great to see this become a habit.

We all go through seasons where our goals for fitness change as other things take priority in the hierarchy of values. The boys will get out of this particular routine eventually, if not when school resumes, then when our summer volunteer teams come. The important thing is not that they have a new schedule to follow for the rest of their lives. What we care about is that they experience setting goals and following a routine. What we care about is that they know how to approach a long-term project like weight management. What we care about, most of all, is that they come away knowing that they are the kind of person who can set and meet a goal, no matter what it may be.

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