Being a member of the Red Wolf Ruck Club at Cuyahoga Heights Middle School isn't exactly a walk in the park. “Basically, it’s walking or hiking a set distance while carrying a weight on your back,” explains George Burich, Director of Pupil Services and Assistant Principal 6-12, who is leading the Red Wolf pack. An admitted “Rucker” for the past two years, Burich wanted to give middle schoolers an opportunity to get outside and do healthy things. He brought the idea to Principal Scott DeTray, who immediately agreed.
At their first rucking session, eight students practiced rucking up the Big Kahuna (the hill behind the baseball field) and in all, completed two miles of rucking. The following week, the students rucked the stadium bleachers in remembrance of first responders who died at Ground Zero on 9/11. And most recently, they “rucked” from the middle school down the Cuyahoga Valley Park Towpath to the second bridge along the Erie Canal, completing a 2½-mile loop.
“The students are having a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying getting to know them,” Burich said. “The kids are learning what their capabilities are, and they are getting to know one another and making friends.”
According to Burich, rucking burns up to three times more calories than walking and is good for a person’s posture and back. To increase their strength and endurance, the students sometimes do curls and presses. At other times, they trade off using heavier weights to build strength, focus on increasing speed, or work on rucking in high elevations.
Getting started is simple. Participants just need a backpack or rucksack, a 10-lb. weight, (dumbbells, bricks, books, or even potting soil wrapped in a towel for cushion will do), tennis shoes, and good socks.
The Red Wolf Ruck Club is open to all middle school students and welcomes new members. Ruckers typically meet on Thursdays from 2:45 - 4:15 p.m. in all weather conditions and after each session they can take the activity bus home. “About the only time we’ll cancel is if there’s lightning,” noted Burich. Students or parents with students interested in joining or having questions can email him at [email protected].