Tom Brady’s TB12 Method is in schools. Experts have doubts.

Sep 23, 2022, 5:06 AM | Updated: 5:54 am
FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady warms up before the first half of an NFL football...

FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady warms up before the first half of an NFL football game against New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. In some Tampa Bay area schools, students use foam rollers and vibrating spheres to massage their muscles as they work toward goals for strength and flexibility. It's all part of a new physical education curriculum from Brady, whose vision for healthy living is fueling a fitness empire. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

(AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

In some Tampa Bay-area schools, students use foam rollers and vibrating spheres to massage their muscles as they work toward goals for strength and flexibility. It’s all part of a new physical education curriculum from quarterback Tom Brady, whose vision for healthy living is fueling a fitness empire.

The arrangement with schools in Pinellas County, Florida, marks a foray into education for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar and his methods — including some that have been criticized as pseudoscience.

Physical education experts have raised questions about the approach’s suitability for school-age children. But the program — and its connection with the seven-time Super Bowl champion — has stirred student interest in fitness and nutrition, others say.

“My legs are lot more loose, and they’re not so heavy on me,” said Antoine James, an eighth-grader. “It really helps.”

A pilot project has embedded parts of the program in gym and health courses in 10 middle and high schools in the 96,000-student district. The TB12 Foundation, the charitable arm of Brady’s fitness business, is picking up the tab to train district staff and provide them with equipment.

The marketing boost for TB12, of course, is free.

Adults who embrace the “TB12 Method,” as Brady described it in a 2017 book, can meet with a trainer for $200 an hour at one of his company’s training centers. His product line includes a plant-based protein powder, electrolytes and vibrating rollers that sell for $160.

“I’m sure one of the benefits is to help students get better exercise habits and physical fitness habits,” said Karen Rommelfanger, an adjunct professor of neurology and psychiatry at Emory University. “But does it also start to enroll another generation of consumers for their product?”

In Pinellas County, the plan is to expand to the rest of its middle and high schools next year. If all goes well, Brady’s foundation is looking to use the program as a model for other districts.

“Today we kind of focus on a little bit older client for the most part,” said Grant Shriver, president and CEO at TB12, where the average client is around 40. “This just kind of gives us a little bit of a vision of how we could go approach just more people.”

The TB12 Foundation’s first partnership in education started in 2020 with Brockton Public Schools in Massachusetts, where Brady played for the New England Patriots. TB12 took a dozen of the district’s athletes to its training center free of charge. That effort later expanded to Malden Public Schools, also in the Boston area.

“I grew up where you lifted heavy weights and, you know, you gauge strength by how much you could bench press and how much you can squat. And this is completely different,” said Brockton Public Schools Athletic Director Kevin Karo. His district is now contracting to use some of the TB12 staff as strength and conditioning coaches for student-athletes.

Most of Brady’s advice is fairly mainstream, including an emphasis on a positive attitude, good nutrition and adequate sleep. But some of his guidance has faced skepticism. He famously attributed his propensity not to sunburn to his high water intake in his book. His trainer, Alex Guerrero, was investigated before joining Brady by the Federal Trade Commission over unsubstantiated claims that a supplement he promoted could cure concussions.

Brady, 45, describes his approach as a departure from the lift-heavy gym culture. He endorses instead exercise bands and something he calls “pliability,” which includes an emphasis on flexibility and massage.

“I feel like everything I’ve learned over the course of 23 years in football has and will allow me to continue to help people in different ways,” Brady said Thursday. “I think starting young is really important, educating people on what works as opposed to the way things have always been.”

Sports trainers have been moving toward a model that includes a mixture of strength training, flexibility and balance exercises, said Mike Fantigrassi, the senior director of product development for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which certifies trainers. But he said he had concerns with the word “pliability” being taught in schools as though it was scientifically proven.

“It’s a term that they made up,” he said. “Some of this stuff is not rooted in good science. And if you’re bringing a curriculum into schools, I believe it should be rooted in good science.”

Brady is one of the world’s greatest athletes but does not have expertise in teaching children, said Terri Drain, a past president of the Society of Health and Physical Educators.

“I just am a little bit alarmed that a school district the size of this one would grab onto this celebrity program,” said Drain, who runs a nonprofit that provides professional development for health and physical education teachers.

On the diet front, Brady advises against foods in the nightshade family like peppers, tomatoes and eggplants because of inflammation concerns. Experts like Eric Rimm say a lot of Brady’s diet guidance is extreme and not backed by a “huge science base.”

Still, Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said there could be benefits.

“If you’re getting rid of the average eighth grade American’s diet and shifting to what he eats, yeah, that’s a lot healthier,” he said. “That’s fantastic.”

One upside is the Brady name makes students perk up in class, said Allison Swank, an eighth grade wellness teacher and a track coach in Pinellas County.

“They definitely know who he is and it’s exciting for them to be able to relate what we’re going to be doing to his program,” she said.

In pilot classes, students take baseline assessments to evaluate areas like their strength, conditioning and flexibility. They then set goals to pursue for improvement, said pre-K-12 health and physical education specialist Ashley Grimes.

She said districts around the county have reached out, asking what the program is about and if it’s something they could do, too.

The program doesn’t use Brady’s book as a textbook, stressed Ben Wieder, a member of the Pinellas Education Foundation, who uses TB12 himself and approached the foundation about bringing the program to the district.

“Tom Brady eats avocado ice cream. Like, we don’t teach eating avocado ice cream,” Wieder said. Most of the science-backed elements of the curriculum are in line with Florida education standards, he said. “I think if you were to go through the book. you’re probably talking 90, 95% of the content is universally accepted.”

___

Associated Press reporter Rob Maaddi contributed from Tampa, Fla.

___

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) speaks with the media after defeating the Dallas Cowboys 19-3 in an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. In some Tampa Bay area schools, students use foam rollers and vibrating spheres to massage their muscles as they work toward goals for strength and flexibility. It's all part of a new physical education curriculum from Brady, whose vision for healthy living is fueling a fitness empire. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)
            
              FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady warms up before the first half of an NFL football game against New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. In some Tampa Bay area schools, students use foam rollers and vibrating spheres to massage their muscles as they work toward goals for strength and flexibility. It's all part of a new physical education curriculum from Brady, whose vision for healthy living is fueling a fitness empire. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

AP

A building is damaged and trees are down after severe storm swept through Little Rock, Ark., Friday...
Associated Press

Tornado causes widespread damage to buildings, vehicles in Little Rock

A tornado raced through Little Rock and surrounding areas Friday, splintering homes, overturning vehicles and tossing trees.
19 hours ago
FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a cam...
Associated Press

Worries grow that Trump indictment could undermine public confidence in other investigations

Trump’s attempts to overturn those results amid false claims of widespread fraud are at the heart of two other ongoing investigations.
19 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
5 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
8 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
8 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Tom Brady’s TB12 Method is in schools. Experts have doubts.