Gym classes get upgrade

Junior Gabby Masood remembers her sophomore year, when her aerobics gym class consisted of just a set of simple exercises. Ten pushups. Ten crunches. A series of stretches. This year, her entire gym period is packed with more intense exercises.

“It’s taking it up a notch,” Masood said, “Before it was easy-going. Now it’s intense. And the rooms are extremely hot.”

But it’s not just the heat in these early weeks of the school year that makes gym class so tiring for Masood. This year the athletic department has decided to implement a few adjustments in their gym classes to make them more of a workout.

The changes weren’t made due to a lack of student participation but rather to help academically benefit the students. The gym classes this year will try to maximize the amount of time students spend in class.

“PE positively affects a student in learning, academics, better behavior, and health,” said Janelle Marconi, Department Chair of PE, Health, and Driver’s Education. “Neuroscience research is being done by the University of Illinois [Urbana-Champaign].”

The Illinois State Board of Education put out research regarding the brain chemistry behind physical activity. Gym throughout the day helps to keep students focused, and it helps with their behavior in class.

“Students aren’t so fidgety in class,” Marconi said. “[Exercise] releases certain neurotransmitters that will help them [focus].”

Gym teachers aim to create gym classes that help utilize this new research and provide the most benefits for their students. According to Marconi, “different types of exercises” will be implemented in the gym classes. She said she hopes that students may feel refreshed, although they may feel a little tired after class.

The gym staff also hopes that improvements made this year will benefit students in the long-term as well. A goal of the challenging classes is to better prepare the students for the future, if they were to join a gym or take a class at places such as Lifetime. The classes will “teach kids how to utilize things that can be a positive influence in life,” Marconi said.

So although Masood may be exhausted from gym, the class is designed to provide benefits and skills that will help her later in life.