New Total Fitness class emphasizes mental and physical well-being


Andrea Schlitt

Nestled under the D building stairs is room D109, which is usually filled with pounding music as the P.E. dance students warm up or work on their rhythm and flexibility for their current dance routine. But starting next school year, a new class, focused on mental and physical well being, will inhabit this room.

Total Fitness, which will be taught by P.E. and dance teacher Dasha Plaza, will encompass aspects of weight training, flexibility and general fitness. Freshman P.E. classes dedicate most of their time to various sports, while other P.E. classes place heavy emphasis on learning about a particular sport. Total Fitness will focus on the types of exercise one might see in a high-intensity workout video.

“I see that after sophomore year kids realize that ‘oh wow my body is changing’ and they’re more mature mentally and take things more seriously, so they want to exercise,” Plaza said. “Because everyone is so busy, this is the perfect 50 minutes you can dedicate to yourself and then move on with your day.”

Originally, Plaza planned to have a separate class for yoga, but from paperwork to meetings to gaining support from the district, adding any class to a department is a two to three year process. However, passing Total Fitness went smoother, as Plaza had already taught the class at Cupertino High School. Since it seemed effective, the district was more open to having the class at MVHS as well.

Plaza emphasizes the mental benefits in Total Fitness. Since students are loaded with classes and extracurriculars, it can be difficult for them to incorporate time to work out and stress can easily accumulate. With yoga and meditation, the class aims to provide a time for students to de-stress.

“If you’re having a bad day, you can come out and sweat out your anger, your frustration, and you can exhale all the negative parts that bother you,” Plaza said. “By the time you walk out… you feel great, you feel confident and you feel relieved.”

Junior Aparna Manoj also sees the benefits of exercising to relieve stress. Manoj is part of MV Raas and does Bharatanatyam, a type of South Indian classical dance. The stress-relieving effects of dancing weren’t as prominent during her freshman year, but in her sophomore and junior year, Manoj started to dance not for the sake of practicing, but for the sake of relieving stress.

“When I decide to take a break [from schoolwork], it’s usually when I’m going to start my work, but I feel really irritated and I don’t want to do to it,” Manoj said. “That’s when I decide to start practicing because usually the music calms me down.”

Manoj believes that the purpose of exercise is to focus your attention on something other than schoolwork because giving yourself time to physically exert yourself completely gives the brain a break.

Though seniors like Cody Miller won’t have the opportunity to take Total Fitness, like Manoj, Miller also exercises on weekends after getting back from work to get her mind off her worries. Miller took up running because of a series of heart attacks in her family. Her mom got her a gym membership four years ago, and it has become a habit for her.

“When I’m running, I don’t think of anything else,” Miller said. “It’s just me and a treadmill.”

If it had been offered during Miller’s sophomore year, she would have opted to take Total Fitness after P.E. Dance, a class also taught by Plaza.

With the new Total Fitness classes, Plaza hopes that both male and female students will be able to dedicate the 50 minutes of class time to sweating out their problems in a fun and competitive environment.