Students Find Gym Classes Lacking Under COVID-19 Restrictions

Gym classes take advantage of days with nice weather to workout outside. Photo by James Rothwell.

All courses are adjusting to the new safety procedures, but one of the most difficult courses to run while adhering to the safety restrictions is gym or physical education class.

According to current WCI gym students, the new procedures have taken a lot out of the gym classes that they normally love.

When asked about how the new procedures are affecting gym class, Lucas B., a 5th year student who has enjoyed gym every year he has attended WCI, said, “I think it makes gym a lot less fun.” He said there is “not as much engagement” in the class either.

Dacia C., a grade 10 WCI student taking livefit this semester, is struggling to find motivation to complete her workouts while she is not at school.  “It’s hard to find motivation to complete stuff when you’re completely alone,” she said.

Another fifth year student, Ryan S., was looking forward to working out in his powerfit class this semester, but he says that students have “no fun or motivation,” and that “ classes feel slumped” within the current restrictions. 

He feels disheartened by the change since he took powerfit last year. “Powerfit went from a fun, productive, and active course to a boring yoga mat with broom stick disaster.”

Teachers are also having a difficult time with the new gym class procedures, but are trying to see the positives and make the best out of the situation.

Mr. Cressman, a gym teacher and coach at WCI, understands the hardships of new gym classes: “Obviously with the new protocols due to COVID, gym class will not be the same (or as good) as before.” 

At WCI, each student has a bin of equipment that only they may touch. After five days in a class, the equipment is sanitized and left to sit for 10 days before being used again. Students have to wear masks at all times during class, and they have to sanitize their hands every time they enter or exit the gym. These last two precautions apply to all classes, not just gym classes.

Cressman said, “We are doing our best to give the students the best experience that we can.  We have many obstacles such as equipment/ masks / facility space that we are trying to overcome.  Just the simple fact that as of now we can’t do any sport that involves students getting close to one another takes away tons of activities (soccer, basketball, hockey, etc..). Throw in trying to do PE with a mask on as well.” 

But he is looking at the bigger picture of returning to school. Cressman said he thinks many students feel “very alone and isolated” during distance learning, and that “they are happy to be back socializing with others and getting out of their house, even in a limited capacity.”

During online learning days, students fill out a log of activities or workouts they have completed at home that day.

Other gym teachers are running into similar problems. Mr. Wesson, a coach and gym teacher at WCI, is doing his best to keep gym class “fresh and exciting.” 

One of the ways he’s accomplishing this is by introducing students to new sports such as pickleball, pool noodle wars, and “soccer-baseball-cricket.” 

Even though Wesson is doing everything he can to keep students engaged and having fun, he recognizes that distance learning is not the perfect scenario. He said, “Distance learning is not ideal in my opinion. School is a social environment where we work on developing skills in the classroom, that transform into the real world. The world looks different right now, but the interpersonal skills that the everyday school environment brings students are so critical for when students leave the doors of WCI for the last time.”

“Distance learning works better for some, but causes more issues for most,” Wesson said.

“The classroom is only one part of what makes WCI special; it is the community of people rallying together for clubs, sports, and productions that make WCI a home, so to not have those, it really does affect [the] overall experience.”