Recently Platform (PLT4M), a powerful physical education classroom program, posted a success story about Southeast Polk High School on its website. Using PLT4M’s modern, fitness-focused curriculum that increases student engagement and activity and promotes mental and physical wellness, we have seen great results both in and out of the classroom. Check out their story about how our weightlifting classes are helping students succeed!

Physical Education Fuels Athletics Success at Southeast Polk

Over the last decade, Southeast Polk High School in Iowa has emerged as a powerhouse in the world of high school sports. While success and triumph have been a school-wide endeavor, sports like football, wrestling, baseball, girls basketball, and girls cross country have achieved the ultimate goal of state championship victories.

The rise in success is a testament to the collective effort of dedicated student-athletes, passionate coaches and teachers, and an invested administration and community. At the heart of these efforts is a unified strength and conditioning program that builds and develops students from 7th to 12th grade through a coordinated physical education and athletic program.

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Southeast Polk’s Push For Cohesion 

When Southeast Polk moved into a new school and fitness center, they saw an opportunity for cohesion. Previously, weightlifting was only a small portion of the PE curriculum, and all athletic training happened before and after school. 

Jason Christenson, PE teacher and strength and conditioning coach, says the school wanted to create a unified approach across physical education and athletics, 

“Our mission was to create a unified program that encouraged multi-sport participation instead of teams competing for students’ time before and after school. We decided the fitness center would be used all school day and year-round to help achieve our goals.” 

As a result, Southeast Polk set out to redesign the physical education curriculum and promote strength and conditioning throughout the school day. The goal was to get the most out of the new facility, and all that strength and conditioning had to offer. 

Southeast Polk's weight room.
Southeast Polk’s weight room.

A Long-Term Athletic Development Approach 

With the mission of unified strength and conditioning, Southeast Polk structured a plan around long-term athletic development. Jason describes the layout as a way to build the complete picture of athletic development, 

“We wanted to create a plan guiding students from middle to high school. And because we were doing it in physical education, the goal was to be consistent across the school in what and how we taught foundational movements before hitting full weight room workouts.” 

To help with consistency, Southeast Polk integrated PLT4M as their programming resource. Drawing from a fitness-to-strength program progression via PLT4M, Southeast Polk established a long-term athletic development plan for 7th-12th graders:


7th Grade – Intro To Fitness  

8th Grade – Intro To Strength Training

  •  A comprehensive introduction to the weight room with barbell and dumbbell movements.

9th-12th Grade – Intro To Strength Training or Advanced Program Options 

  • Students who didn’t complete Intro to Strength Training in 8th grade must take it before starting advanced programs. 
  • Students who are ready advance to in-season and off-season training programs (athletes) or personal weight training (general population.) 
  • General population students interested in things other than weightlifting participate in units and curriculum via PLT4M like yoga, bootcamp, and pickleball. 
PLT4M fitness and strength curriculum progression.
PLT4M fitness and strength curriculum progression.

A Look Inside The Southeast Polk Weight Room 

Because of the robust introduction, once student-athletes hit off-season and in-season training at the high school level, the Southeast Polk weight room is a well-oiled machine. 

Up to 64 students are in the weight room training during any class period. Jason says that while it is busy, the addition of tablets and PLT4M has played an integral role in growing the program, 

“With PLT4M, the students have a great resource they can refer to at any time or place. Every exercise comes loaded with personalized weights, instructional videos, and written notes. It gives us a huge advantage when training.” 

And beyond just helping students grow and progress in the weight room, Jason says that it has helped to elevate the physical education experience, 

“PLT4M isn’t just a weightlifting app it is our learning management system. One big advantage is we can push out notifications, updates, rubrics, and more via the app directly to students. In addition, we can also use it as our assessment and grading tool.” 

Southeast Polk students workout in the weight room during physical education.
Southeast Polk students workout in the weight room during physical education.

Southeast Polk’s Success In and Out Of The Classroom 

Southeast Polk has taken the weight room and turned it into a classroom. Jason, now in his 33rd year of teaching, says that this has been a fantastic transformation, 

“We have created an excellent opportunity for students during the academic school day. As a result, the lifting program has grown, and more students are seeing the benefits of the weight room than ever before.”

Now, Jason says that success in the weight room and classroom has translated to an explosion of athletic success for Southeast Polk, 

“Before we made this push, we had one school state championship from 1977. Now, we have teams across the school winning state championships, and our athletic program has seen new levels of success that come from the hard work in and out of the weight room.” 

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Key Takeaways on Southeast Polk’s Unified Strength and Conditioning Program 

Southeast Polk High School has established a unified strength and conditioning program that the physical education and athletic departments are proud of. One of the biggest takeaways of Jason is the school-wide investment made in the weight room, 

“At Southeast Polk, training in the weight room is seen as important and a priority to everyone from students to administrators.” 

Because of this, the school has pushed for a year-round approach that builds on the work in the school year and continues into summer training. In addition, the physical education department has found ways to make the most out of resources like PLT4M for general population students. Jason says that the whole department has seen the benefits of the curriculum and technology, 

“We have several general population PE classes that use touchscreen TVs and projectors to display PLT4M videos and resources for things like pickleball or HIIT workouts. There is something for everyone within PLT4M.” 

As the school continues to grow and evolve the unified physical education and athletic program, be on the lookout for Southeast Polk to keep making headlines!