This coming semester, like many past ones, a course called Fitness Walking/Jogging/Running is being offered to students as a physical education (PE) class.
“Learn the concepts for personal fitness programs through walking, jogging or running with an emphasis on aerobic components, walking style, safety and motivational techniques. Students can participate at (their) own fitness and skill levels. The course also includes the fundamentals and principles of distance-running form,” the Lewis & Clark Athletics website’s listing for the course says.
Bruce Read, the football assistant coach who specializes in special teams coordination and running backs, serves as the class’s instructor. Students are required to complete four laps around the track per class in whichever manner they would like. The class is also lauded by students for the option to go for a walk off of the track as long as instructor Read is notified.
“The class I teach is more of different levels for cardiovascular activity, and different levels of all types of activities that take place in the class that students can go all the way from running 16 laps every class to walking four,” Read said.
Indeed, students vary in their preferred method of completing their laps. Some choose to walk alone while listening to music, others aggregate in groups to speed walk and a handful of students run frantic laps around the track.
Read said that his class is intended for students of all activity levels.
“I like to cater to each individual student because it’s labeled ‘walking, jogging, running,’” he said.
He noted that the style of his class is distinct from classes with a higher difficulty level.
“(There are) more advanced classes that are more rigid where the professors will really work you until you’re sweating and tired and sore the next day,” Read said. “I don’t see this class like that.”
The benefits of taking a PE class are inherent to the establishment of PE as a General Education requirement for all undergraduates. The undergraduate catalog website discusses the importance of PE within higher education.
“Physical education is a facet of the liberal arts tradition that stresses the interdependence of the physical, mental, and social dimensions of human experience. Students will learn to recognize and experience the positive benefits of building physical fitness and self-care habits, explore aspects of the body’s structure and function, and engage in experiences within a group or community setting,” the catalog states.
Read emphasized the level of care that goes into having a class that is amenable to all students. “Everybody’s built different, everybody’s endurance is different so it takes a little time to make the class fit what the student would like,” Read said.
Read added that he loves teaching PE because he appreciates the opportunity to connect with students who do not participate in LC’s athletic teams.
“I coach football so I’m very much in a tunnel, in a vacuum, it’s just been my whole life. So it’s really neat for me to be able to meet and talk to our students that are not football players,” Read said. “It’s really refreshing to speak with people that are younger than me and get their perspective on things.”
But overall, the benefits of physical activity vindicate the class’s place within the undergraduate general education offerings.
Ultimately, Read hopes the class will serve students by acting as a well-deserved break from the intensity of academia.
“I think there’s a lot of stress on our students because it’s a high academic school so to be able to do a PE class and let your mind wander, or even sort out issues that you’re thinking about, are really good things to do,” Read said.