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The Scarlet & Black

Physical Education classes allow students to try a variety of sports

By Avery Lewis

For some, Physical Education or “P.E.” classes can evoke memories of terrifying dodgeball games, unwanted exercise and unpleasant smells. For others, P.E. classes were the best part of going to school — an escape from the boring classroom. 

At Grinnell, however, P.E. classes offer a fresh start. No more obligatory jogs or awkward wrestling units; instead, Grinnell provides students an opportunity to learn a new life skill, while also acting as an often much-needed study break. 

“One thing that I think is important is that [P.E.] classes here give you a chance to check out some type of physical activity or exercise you haven’t really done before,” said Sam Rowekamp ’21, who took rock climbing his first-year at Grinnell. Indeed, P.E. at Grinnell College offers an eclectic range of classes, which include activities like rock climbing, yoga, fishing and indoor soccer, among many others. 

P.E. classes create opportunities to explore new things, but they also offer opportunities to build crucial skill sets outside of the classroom. 

“Climbing is one activity that forces people to critically evaluate their perception of risk versus real risk and work through it. It’s very much a critical thinking skill,” noted GORP director David Zeiss, who teaches the rock climbing course. 

Often, it is easy at Grinnell to feel that if a class isn’t for our major, or won’t help get that summer internship, we have no legitimate reason to take it. However, many students who take P.E. classes enjoy the structured break it brings to them, as well as the benefits exercise can have on the other aspects of their lives. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to find time to go to the gym, but if you have class you know that at least twice a week you’re going to have that exercise time and that was very helpful,” explained Anna Vasenina ’21 who took Indoor Cycling Plus Core last spring semester. 

“You can’t study 24/7, and so it’s good to nurture yourself physically, mentally, spiritually and do something that’s nurtures your well-being and health,” said Evelyn Freeman, who teaches aerobic-based classes and coaches cross country. “Plus, you can get academic credit for it, so why not?” 

Another important aspect of P.E. centers around making all students feel comfortable and safe when using the athletic facilities. 

“I think that we may need to promote athletic activities on campus,” continued Coach Freeman. “I think it’s really important for people to feel comfortable. The weight room is not just for athletes — we have community people come in, elderly people, and if there’s other ways we can get people in the building, show them around and make them less threatening — that’s really important.” 

Grinnell is a busy place to go to school, and between the coursework that needs to be done, campus talks that need to be attended and student groups that need to be joined, it is important to find moments to slow down — or speed up. Why not do it in a P.E. class?

Maho Nozaki ‘22 poses with her catch of the day beside men’s golf and soccer coach Brian Jaworski. Students in Jaworski’s Fishing class meet twice a week at 9 a.m. to perfect their fishing skills at the Grinnell Golf Course pond. Photo by Andrew Tucker
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