WRITTEN BY GERTHO NOEL

Upon looking at the core requirements list at SFC, many students are surprised to learn that two credits are devoted to a fitness course. Those who were afraid that they would have to continue the often dreaded high school physical education classes can rest easy.

The fitness courses offered have proved more fun that frustrating. A number of SFC students find it very beneficial to have health and fitness courses as part of the curriculum. While each class is is unique, they all share the same goal of maintaining health and wellness the students’ necessity for health and fitness education.

SFC senior Rosemarie Yetman finds these courses very important for students. “They can apply to their everyday lifestyle. It’s very heart healthy. It will show them ways to stay fit and they can carry it past their graduation date,” said Yetman. She mentioned that some of the things students learn in these courses such as proper nutrition, proper weight lifting, training, what is good and bad for the body is sometimes “more relevant than other courses that you have to take just to fill an elective.”

Exercising does not drain energy, even though it might seem counterintuitive. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown clear evidence that exercise releases the hormone Seratonin, which increases energy and improves mental function. “It is clear that those who are active and who exercise are much more productive at work,” says Todd A. Astorino, assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University-San Marcos.

SFC senior Nyah Mays said: “I remember having more energy for school when we had gym classes. They are fun, allows us to become more acquainted with our peers, and if everyone in school could have a gym class we might be able to reduce obesity.”

Both students agreed that it should be mandatory for students to enroll in a fitness course at the university level. Yetman added that students can apply it more in their lifestyle than some other mandatory core courses.

Dr. John McNamara has been teaching physical education classes at St. Francis College for several years. His course offerings include: Weight Training (FIT 1142), Dance and Rhythmic Skills (FIT 1145), and Motor Learning (PE 3308). With a PhD. in Kinesiology, he has an urge to pass on his knowledge.

“Just about my entire life I have studied health, fitness, sports. I have played a lot of sports myself, so I want to pass that knowledge to other people and when I teach my courses thats my goal, thats my aim, thats what I try to do,” said Dr. McNamara.

A few years ago, the college’s mission statement was being rewritten and McNamara was a key proponent of including fitness in the revised copy. Mcnamara said: “one of the things that is really important for me is physical fitness of the students, of the faculty, of the community. In my courses what I do is teach them how to be fit and healthy for the rest of their life.”

McNamara does not ignore the fact that everyone works out differently. He is certified as a personal trainer and specializes in strength and conditioning fitness, but tries to help everyone find what they like doing to get fit and stay fit.

McNamara said: “One of the things I tell them is that you don’t have to ever go to a gym, you don’t have to lift weights if you don’t like it, you don’t have to run on a treadmill, you don’t have to do those things. But find something like gardening, or dancing, or bowling because all of that stuff counts. It’s all very good physical activity.”

He also offered various tips to his students about staying healthy. “I focus on three things. One thing I focus on is sleep. I tell them it’s very important to get eight hours of sleep each night. The second thing I talk about is to follow a healthy eating plan, which one of the things I recommend is “My Plate”. You can just go to google and put myplate.gov and it tells you about healthy eating. The third thing is, I teach them how to be fit and healthy for the rest of their life. I’m always trying to help people to get fit, lose weight or get stronger, faster, more powerful, increase their strength, power, endurance, flexibility or whatever their interested in,” said McNamara.

St. Francis College Professor and alumni Ordain Maxwell has been teaching physical education classes for four years, and said: “It’s sad that the courses have to be mandatory for students to see how important it is. Students should actually want to take these courses rather than look at it as an easy two credit course.”

Maxwell’s course offerings include Exercise, Fitness and Weight Control (FIT 1102) and Soccer/Volleyball (PE 1101).

Maxwell said: “I want students to be aware of how serious this is. To know how many people are dying out there from things like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and why these things are happening. These things occur due to lack of physical activity and proper nutrition. We eat all these fast foods out there and we’re not really burning those calories that are necessary.”

He went on to emphasize how important health and fitness is. “This is your health, this is your life, and you have to invest the time in it. If you don’t put in that time theres a time where your going to regret it because our bodies are getting older and as you get older you can get more thick, you get weaker, your muscles don’t have the same strength as they age,” said Maxwell.

Fall 2012 registration is coming soon, so consider taking a health course and improve your health. While it may not seem desirable at first, a number of students agree that the fitness courses are very beneficial, and they can use the knowledge they have gained from these courses for the rest of their lives.

The Fall 2012 Fitness courses are now available on WebAdvisor. Among the courses are Beginning Swimming (FIT 1121), Traditional Karate (FIT 1131), Fencing (FIT 1141) and Weight Training(FIT 1142). Registration begins on March 16.

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