CHAMPAIGN — A national program that promotes youth fitness is changing to emphasize health over performance — and materials published by Champaign-based Human Kinetics will be part of the new program.
The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition announced Monday it is replacing the President's Council Youth Fitness Test with the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
The new program will use Fitnessgram, an assessment that reports on a student's individual health and fitness.
"It tells you how healthy you are, based on what you should be able to do for someone in your age group," Human Kinetics President Brian Holding said.
That's a change from the old youth fitness test, which compared a student's performance with those of his or her peers.
Fitnessgram software — published by Human Kinetics for the Cooper Institute — measures health-related fitness by evaluating cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition.
Fitnessgram has been adopted by many metropolitan school districts, including those in New York City, Indianapolis and Miami, Holding said.
The software also has been adopted statewide by Texas, Georgia and Delaware and is used in much of North Carolina, he added.
Holding said it's estimated that two-thirds of the schools that do physical fitness testing have been using Fitnessgram, and the other one-third have been using the President's Council Youth Fitness Test.
But with the President's Council switching gears, all those schools stand to be using Fitnessgram, he said.
Human Kinetics also publishes materials for Physical Best, which likewise will be used by the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
Physical Best, a program of resources and training for K-12 physical education teachers, is published by Human Kinetics on behalf of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Holding called the adoption of Fitnessgram and Physical Best "a significant development in the history of Human Kinetics."
The company, which employs about 245 in the U.S., will hire "a few more people in the coming year or so to help build the next generation" of Fitnessgram software, which has gone through nine versions, he said.
"We'll be building Fitnessgram 10 over the next six to nine months," he added. "It probably will take up to two years to build that."
The Cooper Institute created Fitnessgram in 1982, and Human Kinetics has been publishing it since the late 1990s, Holding said.
During the company's most recent fiscal year, which ended in April, Fitnessgram accounted for about $2.8 million of Human Kinetics' revenue, or roughly 7 percent to 8 percent of the company's business, he said.
Holding said the company is proud to play a role in the nation's battle against children's obesity. He noted that first lady Michelle Obama has made ending childhood obesity a top priority.
Scott Wikgren, director of the company's Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Division, said the Presidential Youth Fitness Program "places emphasis on the value of living a physically active and fit life."
That closely resembles Human Kinetics' own mission statement, he said.
Wikgren said the adoption of Fitnessgram follows years of work, with the Cooper Institute initially meeting with the President's Council about five years ago. Face-to-face talks resumed last November and continued this year, he said.
Besides adopting Fitnessgram and the professional development program, the Presidential Youth Fitness Program has also:
— Asked the Amateur Athletic Union to continue administering the youth fitness recognition program.
— Arranged for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead development of a plan to track and evaluate the youth fitness program.