Tom Brady’s health program is taught in some schools

In some Tampa Bay schools, students use foam tubes and vibrating balls to massage their muscles, seeking to gain strength and flexibility. It’s all part of a new fitness program for quarterback Tom Brady, whose vision of healthy living fuels a business empire in the health field.

The agreement with Pinellas County (Florida) schools represents a foray into education for the Tampa Bay quarterback and his methods, including some that have been described as pseudoscience.

Physical education experts raise questions about whether it is possible for young children to engage in the program on a sustained basis. But some say the show, and the fact that it’s associated with Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl winner, draws young people’s interest in nutrition and physique care.

“I feel like my legs are so much lighter, they don’t weigh me down as much,” said eighth grader Antoine James. “It really helps.”

Parts of the program are being used in fitness and health classes in a pilot program at 10 schools in this district of 95,000 students. The TB12 Foundation, the charitable organization of Brady’s company, pays for the training of staff and supplies the equipment.

The publicity that this generates, of course, is free.

Adults using the “TB12 Method,” as described by Brady in a book he published in 2017, can hire a trainer for $200 an hour at one of his company’s training centers. His product line includes plant-based protein powders, electrolytes and vibrating tubes that cost $160.

“I’m sure one of the benefits is that it helps kids develop a habit of looking after their physique and exercising,” said Karen Rommelfanger, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Emory University. “But at the same time it produces another generation of consumers of its products?”

Pinellas County plans to expand the program to all middle and high schools in the county next year. The goal of the Brady Foundation is for the program to be used in other districts.

“Today we’re focused on a little bit older customers,” said Grant Shriver, president and CEO of TB12, whose customer base is in their 40s on average. “This gives us an idea of ​​how we can incorporate more people.”

“In my childhood you lifted weights and you were encouraged to know how much you could lift. This is something very different,” said Kevin Karo, athletic director of Brockton, Massachusetts, public schools, who rehearsed the program in 2020, when Brady was still playing with the Patriots, the team in which he spent most of his career. His district is hiring some of the members of TB12.

Most of Brady’s recommendations are widely used, including an emphasis on a positive attitude, good nutrition, and getting enough sleep. Some aspects of her program, however, generate skepticism. In his book, for example, he attributes his propensity to not get sunburned to the fact that he drinks a lot of water. His physical trainer Alex Guerrero was investigated by authorities before joining Brady’s team for making unsubstantiated claims that a supplement he promoted could cure concussions.

Brady, who is still active in the NFL and performing at his best at age 45, says his program casts aside the weightlifting-based culture. He favors the use of elastic bands and something he calls “pliability,” which emphasizes flexibility and massage.

Brady said Thursday that everything he’s learned in 23 years in football “can help people in different ways.”

“I think that starting (taking care of yourself) young is very important,” he said. “And that you have to educate people about what works, not to do things the way they’ve always been done.”

Fitness trainers have long tried programs that include a mix of weights, flexibility and balance exercises, according to Mike Fantigrassi, senior director of product development for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which issues fitness certificates. But he indicated that he is concerned with teaching “responsibility” in schools as if it were something corroborated by science.

“They invented that term,” he said. “Some of these things are not supported by science. For me, what is taught in schools has to be based on science.”

The nutritional aspect of the program also has some skeptics.

Brady recommends foods like bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplant to fight inflammation. Experts like Eric Rimm, however, say Brady’s dietary recommendations are extreme and unsupported by science.

Still, Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says Brady’s initiative may have benefits.

“If it helps break down the average eighth-grade diet and makes them worry about what they eat, of course it’s going to be a lot healthier,” he said. “That is fantastic”.

The program does not use Brady’s book as a textbook, points out Ben Wieder, a member of the Piniellas Educational Foundation.

“Tom Brady eats avocado ice cream. We don’t instill in kids to eat avocado ice cream,” he pointed out.

He added that many of the elements of the program are backed by science and fit within Florida’s educational guidelines. “If you read the book, I suspect that 90% or 95% of its content is universally accepted.”

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Rob Maaddi contributed from Tampa, Florida.

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The Associated Press educational team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for the content.

Tom Brady’s health program is taught in some schools