PE expands options, equipment under new block schedule

Hannah Mason, co-sports editor

IMG_5524    In the 2014-2015 school year, the Physical Education (PE) Department has expanded their resources with the addition of a spin room, Total Resistance eXercise (TRX) workout bands and an ice skating unit, associated with the Glenview Ice Rink. 

According to Kay Sopocy, assistant athletic director, talk of these additions began among the department a year and a half ago when it was announced that South would be switching to a block schedule.

“[The PE department] did a lot of discussion about facilities and how we were going to best utilize them so that we give students more of a broad view of PE since we have them for a longer period of time,” Sopocy said.

Sopocy also added that the addition of a spin room had been on the department’s “wish list” for a while. According to junior Katelyn Luckey, a student in the PE leader class, she had never used a spin bike, but thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and experience.

“The fun aspect of it is when, for example, Mrs. Sopocy [plays] a video that [is] to the tempo of how fast we should be going on our bikes,” Luckey said. “I think it is a good idea to incorporate the fitness part of it, which is the actual biking, and then the music that goes along with it.”

A spin bike is different from a regular bike seen in the fitness center because the resistance and intensity varies throughout the workout, according to Instructional Supervisor Steve Stanicek. On a regular bike a person’s heart rate increases, but then stays constant. On a spin bike, rather, the heart rate is constantly jumping, Stanicek says.

The PE Department also invested in TRX bands. According to trxtraining.com, the TRX bands offer a full-body workout and are used to further develop the core and muscle strength. According to Luckey, she believes the bands are efficient, but feels her class has yet to understand the benefits of them, based on her own experience.

“We honestly haven’t used [the TRX bands] that much, to the point that we [don’t] know how to fix the mistakes we made before, but we are looking forward to using new techniques,” Luckey said.

In the times that Luckey’s class has used the bands, she says they did exercises with the bands, such as using them to practice push-ups and pull ups. However, the bands can be used for a variety of exercise.

“I thought it was unique and better than being on the ground and doing your classical push-up,” Luckey said.

According to Stanicek, the purpose of the additions dealt with the idea of PE classes spending half of the block on an activity and the other half on fitness.

“What we wanted to accomplish [with the spin room and TRX bands] was to give another fitness station,” Stanicek said. “We knew that on the block we weren’t going to play basketball for ninety minutes. We knew that we were going to rotate and thread fitness through everything, but we didn’t have enough stations to accommodate what we wanted to do.”

For the first time, the junior leader PE curriculum includes a three day ice skating unit, at the Glenview Ice Rink. If this unit proceeds well, it might be something other classes are able to incorporate into their curriculum. According to junior Casey Kleeman, a student in the PE leader class, she enjoyed the experience and the diversity it brought to the class.

“It’s so fun to get out of the school and also to [push] people outside their comfort zones,” Kleeman said.

According to junior E.J. Reynolds, another student in the PE Leaders class, he enjoyed the fact that it was an opportunity for students who don’t participate in figure skating or hockey to have a chance to skate.

“I think it’s great that everyone can come out and work on their skating,” Reynolds said. “Most kids don’t have an outlet to skate; so, it’s nice to have that [here].”

According to Sopocy, the PE Department is constantly working at improving the program and will continue to ask more essential questions about what is still needed for the curriculum at the beginning of second semester.

“I think fitness is always tricky, because that is what we are about,” Sopocy said. “We should be making everybody more physically fit, as well as enjoying activities that are lifelong. I think the newer things that we haven’t had before have enhanced [that] and made the whole fitness component more interesting for students at the very least.”