Putting a spin on physical education

by Chloe Jordan | Editor-In-Chief

Students peddle to the beat of an 80s song, experiencing using a spin bike at school for the first time. Although it seems unusual to have this type of equipment for a P.E. class, it is another method to give students the opportunity to participate in more contemporary workouts. 

Coach Christina Wollard is changing the way students in her second period Lifetime Fitness and Wellness Pursuits class view exercising, one spin bike at a time. 

“It would be stationary, kind of like the Peloton style, you know. And these are really nice because the district can load them up, and usually there’s about 40 bikes,” Wollard said. “As far as space, we have 20. We can do stations or partner work, so basically it’s really a nice stationary bike that kids can use.”

Most students in P.E. only get to see the typical dodgeball bags or kickball, but Wollard is changing that for her class.

“And with our class, because it’s Lifetime Fitness and Wellness, they get a lot more of a dynamic cardio style,” Wollard said. “These are a two-week checkout, so I can check them out anytime I want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else in the district or any other P.E. coaches that check it out. So, right now I have it until Friday.”

The checkout process for bigger equipment like bikes goes through the Northeast Sports Park, and the items are delivered by instructional specialist Brandon Turner.

“Some students may not even have a bicycle. I’ve had students in the past who have never had a bike, and some who see this type of equipment at Lifetime Fitness, Planet Fitness. So, they may never get an opportunity to get on a spin bike like this outside of being a part of a gym,” Wollard said. “I think it’s a cool introductory type of activity for them, and it’s a good cardio workout.”

The spin bikes are an activity that is included in the TEKS for fitness and gym classes. 

“It is part of my curriculum and I love using it and I will always check those out, and if I can do it twice a year, I’ll do it twice a year,” Wollard said. “But, it’s something that a lot of people like to check out and it’s fun for the kids.”

Wollard’s classes typically do cardio-based workouts for 30-35 minutes, sometimes in sets alternating with partners, along with other activities.

“I didn’t have any issues with reminding them to peddle or not a lot of safety reminders either. Usually we like to ghost ride and not put the brakes on, but for the most part, this is a really great element to add because it’s so different,” Wollard said. “It’s not something we normally would do, like going out to do intervals on the track or running in the gym. This is a great way to do cardio and have a little fun doing it.”

For Wollard, safety is a priority when teaching students how to use the spin bikes. 

“That’s the biggest issue that we have – applying the brakes, using the tension, whether it’s to slow down or speed up, adjustments to the seat and handlebars. Most everything else is kind of like riding a bike,” Wollard said. “Safety would be the biggest feature for these bikes. Just making sure that they enter and exit correctly, they have proper shoes, and things like that.”

According to Wollard, people often see P.E. as an unstructured class. But, she believes the curriculum is starting to change the way they look at it.

“It needs to be considered more of a real class, not just a recess. We used to offer five different sections. Now there’s three, and it’s a multitude of those five being pushed into three,” Wollard said. “So this one was called dynamic cardio, where we have cardio-based activities – running, agility, HIIT workouts, Crossfit type stuff, spin bikes.”

Wollard enjoys being able to provide the bikes as an independent cardio activity. 

“This is something they can do individually, which is awesome. It’s those who are less likely to gravitate to others that gives them a chance that they can still get their workout in and not have to be thrown into a situation where it’s uncomfortable for them and things like that,” Wollard said. “Everyone is kind of working out at the same time, so not worrying about people watching you workout.”

She also believes that other P.E. classes, like Outdoor Adventures, can provide unique experiences for students and would allow them to use equipment they may not have seen before.

“I’d say it’s changed over the years, but I think if you get a really good P.E. teacher, then you get to do really cool stuff. Yeah, I think it’s kind of cool to be able to engage in things that you normally wouldn’t, like outdoor-type stuff,” Wollard said. “If someone’s never been camping or hunting or fishing – just little things you normally wouldn’t be a part of. Those kinds of things are really cool for the kids.”

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