Online Gym: The New Way to Teach Physical Education?

Deep in the gallows of Forest Hills Central lies a place only few are blessed to enter: the Online room. Where in the past taking online classes has been for credit recovery for kids that have failed classes, now the bulk of the students take online classes for various other reasons. Whether an online class is taken because a student learns better working on their own or because they want to take a class not offered at FHC, it’s clear that this new style of learning is on the rise.

As part of the graduation requirements for Forest Hills Schools, each student needs to complete at least one art credit, one health credit, and one gym credit. If these credits don’t fit into a student’s schedule, the student can either choose to test out or get it waived by the administration; the majority of the exempted credits being gym.

Since the popularity of online classes has picked up, more and more students have been opting to go for a third option: take gym online. However there is obvious skepticism about if this is truly an effective way to teach physical education.

For junior Jared Baas, online gym truly is effective due to its focus on the research and scholarly aspect of learning.

“In traditional gym class, you would normally play some type of sport that you rotate most of the time, and then have a small testing component along with it. With the online class, you are immersed deeply into each topic, so you end up having a lot of knowledge about each component of physical fitness,” Jared said.

However, senior Hannah Esterman has a different view of the class.

“I actually don’t think that this class is an effective way to learn physical education, because there is no one to make sure that you actually do the physical assignments,” Esterman said.

So how exactly does taking an gym online work? According to Esterman, who is currently enrolled in Online Personal Fitness, the classes are broken down into 8 chapters with each chapter being into 6-8 assignments. There are about two physical activity assignments, and then the rest of them are worksheets, essays, or presentations. The class does not have due dates, but all the assignments for the class have to be completed by the end of the semester in order to pass.

This may seem like a pretty easy setup, but for most students, time management is a difficult thing to grasp when it comes to any online class.

“It’s a pretty easy class; you just have to actually do your work because if you procrastinate with any online class the work piles up fast,” said senior Autumn Schmidt. “I wanted to prove to myself that I can handle the responsibility of honestly completing a class that I could easily slack off in.”

In addition to written assignments, students also obviously have to partake in physical activity as well. This is logged and turned in for a grade with the name of activity, time spent on the activity and the number of reps completed all recorded.

For Schmidt, this activity includes stress management activities such as yoga, meditation, and running, which was coupled with an essay discussing how those particular exercises affected her.

“Another assignment that we had was to write about a time that we had to deal with a stressful situation and to comment on three other people’s stories on how they could’ve dealt with it better and something positive,” explained Schmidt. “It was really interesting reading what some had said.”

Overall, taking an online gym class has proved useful to these three students.

“For someone like me who is already physically active, it’s nice that I can combine what I do outside of school with what I am learning in class,” Bass said. “This adds a level of relatability that I find you miss in a class, where what you do for the most part is decided by the teacher.”

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