Dec. 10, 2021
For many students, gym is a class where they catch a break from other stressful courses. It gives them an opportunity to interact with friends and spend some time away from their screens. However, others view it as an unnecessary class that should not be required for all four years of high school.
While many teens benefit from gym class, plenty of students would rather use that block for other courses such as art or computer science. They feel physical education class takes time away from other subjects that could expand their academic knowledge or help them learn more about themselves.
In a perfect world, physical education would be optional for seniors. Unfortunately, though, gym is a high school graduation requirement, and New Jersey state law demands that students earn 3.75 physical education credits per year. This amounts to a total of 150 minutes worth of class time per week. Particularly due to the health class component that takes up one marking period, this course cannot be swapped out with others.
Public School Review, a website that evaluates schools relative to each other and statewide averages, reports that, on average, students participate in only 16 minutes of physical activity in gym class.
According to the State of Childhood Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, only 23.2% of students are physically active for at least an hour a day. This research indicates that more needs to be done to help students fall in love with exercise and incorporate it into their daily lives in an organic way.
With a new gym coming to LHS, the possibilities are endless. Therefore, the Athletic Department should consider forming a student committee that could offer input and ideas for making gym class reach its full potential.
Gym class could be made more fun and more productive if unique options—such as dance, karate and yoga—were afforded to students. These types of non-traditional exercise opportunities would particularly benefit students who do not see themselves as athletic. They could realize they have a talent in one of these areas, and that would boost their self-confidence and help them develop a lifelong love of fitness.
Real-world experiences can also be incorporated into gym classes through fundraisers like Jump Rope For Heart and fitness challenges like a 30-day pushup challenge. The good causes associated with these athletic activities would encourage more students, even those who generally don’t like gym class, to get active and take initiative.
With a new gym coming to LHS, the possibilities are endless. Therefore, the Athletic Department should consider forming a student committee that could offer input and ideas for making gym class reach its full potential. An open line of communication between gym teachers and students would bring physical education in Lyndhurst to new heights.
Gym class, as it stands, does not reach less athletic students the way it should, but with more student input and a wider range of athletic activities from which to choose, physical education just might become everyone’s favorite class.
ILLUSTRATION BY CAROLINA AGUILAR