YONKERS N.Y. - One Yonkers student pretended to be a tall giraffe, and the other pretended to be a bouncy frog, as they chased each other around a circle as part of an exercise to learn about inner-strength.
Brett Hoebel, fitness trainer for the reality television show, “The Biggest Loser,” visited Casimir Pulaski School to teach Yonkers students about inner-strength, confidence and why they should avoid negative behavior like bullying.
Having the students mimic animal postures is a part of learning the martial art capoeira, Hoebel said.
"I was teased as a teenager because I was overweight and didn't look like my parents because of my dark skin,” he said. "So, growing up, I channeled my frustration into a positive outlet, and it helped me build confidence. That's why I'm here, my goal is to teach kids the importance about developing inner-strength."
The visit corresponds with an ongoing project for fifth-grade students, who are in their final year of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. The program requires the implementation of a theme to research and reflect on, which this year is health, hygiene and wellness.
The school wanted Hoebel to speak to the students because he represents its philosophy toward health and wellness, said Principal Brian Curtis.
"We asked Brett to come in to talk to the kids about different topics, including bullying, because he’s someone the kids can look up to," Curtis said. "It's great when you have someone who knows a lot about an issue but also really cares about it. Because he went though some of these things, you can tell how passionate he is, something that our kids can really pick up on and learn from."
Aidan Murphy, 6, was one of the many first-graders participating in the event.
"I was really impressed when he did the dance moves so easily,” Murphy said. “It got me really interested because they looked so cool doing everything in the air. Some of these things were hard, but it makes you stronger. Like he said, it can make your a more confident person."
Hoebel said he decided to become an inspiration speaker because he was bullied as a child.
“Bullying and teasing is going to happen regardless, so what matters is how you deal with it," he said. "What really matters is gaining and using your inner-strength. It not only comes about through exercise but also by being accountable to yourself and to your word.”