Get Active and Get Credit

ESS courses at Smith can help you explore the outdoors, enjoy a good workout and even reduce stress. | Photo by Jen Zhu ’18

ESS courses at Smith can help you explore the outdoors, enjoy a good workout and even reduce stress. | Photo by Jen Zhu ’18

Madeline Hubbard ‘19
Contributing Writer

If you are looking for something different to spice up your spring semester classes, an Exercise and Sports Studies course might be the perfect thing for you. Due to the variety of classes offered, anyone can find a class for their ability level or interests. If you’re looking for a way to get fit or just get up and moving, there are so many options. There are multiple one-credit courses offered to try new sports, such as squash, swimming, badminton, golf, fencing and tennis.  Nina Shute, ’19, who just completed Tennis 1 said, “even though I would not consider myself an athletic person, I really enjoyed taking tennis. I came in with no prior knowledge of the sport, and finished the class confident that I could hold my own in a casual match. Our instructor, Deedie Steele, was super helpful and always encouraging and positive even when I had difficulty mastering certain techniques. I absolutely recommend taking at least one ESS class while here at Smith. They are a lot of fun and it’s a nice change of pace from the academic rigor of other courses.”

For the more outdoorsy and adventurous students, there is canoeing, kayaking, sculling, archery, rock climbing and outdoor skills. If you need to get a summer job, the lifeguarding certification class is a great one to take. At the end of the course, each student is lifeguarding and CPR certified for a fraction of the cost to take the class outside of Smith.  There are other swim classes for beginners, advanced swimmers and students looking to try diving or conditioning through swim. Elsie Odhiambo, ’17 is taking Beginning Swimming and is really impressed with the way the instructors allow each student to learn at their own pace.  “I am really enjoying the class and I will use what I have learned to continue swimming,” she said. “In fact, next semester, I plan to take the advanced swim course.” However, if water isn’t your thing, there are four different self-defense classes you can take to expand your skill set. From Kung Fu and Ba Gua Zhang to Self-Defense 1 and Tai Chi, any student can find a class and be able to defend themselves from harm.

There are several rigorous courses designed for physical conditioning including Pilates, Kickboxing, Aerobics, Weight Training, Hydro Fitness and Self-Paced Fitness. These courses are offered in the morning before classes and in the afternoon and evening. This means you can still enjoy a good workout even if you are not a morning bird or night owl. As someone who is taking Kickboxing and can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning, I still come out of every class feeling energized and refreshed.

If your spring semester seems stressful enough without an intense fitness course, there are many yoga classes you can take to reduce stress and improve health and flexibility. Another stress-reducing option is a 2-credit course offered on Stress Management, which teaches you how to recognize and avoid your own stressors and stress patterns and learn techniques to relieve stress.

If you try an ESS course you may find a new passion and even want to continue with it once the course is over. A person who has an activity they can do and enjoy for their entire life will be healthier physically and mentally. People who exercise tend to have lower stress levels, improved mood, and sleep well. Exercise can even increase life span while strengthening your body and reducing risk of heart disease and even some cancers. So, with little reason left not to take an exercise course, I hope that many of you expand your horizons and try something new.  With any luck, you might find that you have stumbled upon your new favorite pastime.

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