Not every student enjoys running laps in the middle of a school day or feeling forced to play basketball for an hour.
However, the physical education course Life Skills is not an average gym class. In this class, students can enjoy dance as cardio, and the only competition is the self.
Teachers Jennifer Mannes and Kayla Ruettiger teach the class for students of all ability levels.
Mannes also has experience teaching step classes and strength training outside of school.
Mannes said, “I feel like a lot of the people who take Life Skills, I call P.E. haters because all of the P.E they’ve had in the past is involved with just doing sports and running.”
She said, “We’re trying to find anything you like, or don’t even hate, that you would be willing to do when you leave (high school). If you hated basketball, then you’re probably not going to play basketball when you graduate either.”
With a weekly schedule of cardio, body toning, weight room, yoga, and classroom days, there is plenty of variety. Whether kickboxing, dancing Zumba, or doing step aerobics, time flies.
With a day set for yoga, students have an hour to allow their minds to take a break and release stress by focusing on their breathing through meditation and yoga poses such as savasana.
A self-defense unit is also part of the class.
The self-defense class uses the acronym RAD (Rape Aggression Defense). Mannes, who took a 30-hour national certification course, said, “They teach you from everything from deescalating, avoiding situations to begin with, how to not be a target, and how to defend yourself from any sort of attacker.”
She said, the experience is “so helpful because you can do this [punch] against a wall, but when you actually do it, it’s crazy. People actually come and attack you in full body gear, and you have to fight your way out of them.”
Not only is physical activity taught, but on classroom days students have the opportunity to color as a stress reliever, watch videos on how to properly meditate, and make stress balls.
Mannes said, “I hope that with the different units that we cover, they feel confident going and doing a workout, knowing why they’re doing certain workouts, knowing if they want to reach certain goals, and things they can do to get there.”
Skills to Healthy Living was introduced last year as a prerequisite to Life Skills.
Take time during the holiday break to relax and try some meditation. It may prove useful when the spring semester begins.