Physical Education from home presents unique challenges

Students examine the pros and cons of taking PE classes during remote learning


Akshat Debanth

Akshat Debanth utilizes these dumbbells from home to stay fit.

Anika Sharma

Senior Archana Mucharla begins PE in a group discussion, going through a set of workouts that her PE teacher, Julie Sullivan, shares. They then discuss form and workout together for the next hour on Zoom. During the last five minutes of class, they have a whole class cool down.  

Due to the continuation of remote learning, the PE department has adopted several apps into their distance learning curriculum in order to engage students, which surprised Mucharla, as she wasn’t sure what to expect of her PE Racket Sports class. 

“When I first logged into the class, I was expecting we were just going to have attendance taken or some kind of activity log to track offline exercise,” Mucharla said. “I just didn’t see how [PE] would translate well, but I was surprised when [Ms. Sullivan] told us we were going to do the workouts together.”

Similarly, senior Nitya Yerraguntla’s PE Dance teacher, Dasha Maximovich, guides her students through split building stretches and dance choreography. Because Yerraguntla enjoys dance and wants to improve, she appreciates Maximovich’s guidance and enthusiasm even during distance learning. She finds the class motivating, and has noticed that it improves her productivity. 

“I definitely like how supportive Miss Plaza is and how easy it is to pick up on the choreography,”  Yerraguntla said. “She gives us ample opportunities to practice without it being too stressful or putting anyone on the spotlight, because usually I find myself very self-conscious, when I’m dancing because I’m not so great at it. But Miss Plaza’s very accommodating during her class.” 

However, other PE teachers don’t require students to stay on Zoom for the full period, instead providing assignments for students to complete offline through apps like Volt Athletics —which is a fitness training app. Consequently, this raises the question of reliability and whether students are truly doing the assigned exercises. Freshman Akshat Debnath notes that because of this, PE teachers like his teacher for PE 9, Dasha Maximovich, have to trust their students. 

She just tells [us] what we’re going to go through in the day and then she tells us to turn our cameras off and we can leave the call if we want to,” Debnath said. “But for the first couple of weeks she made us do them on camera, [because] someone can not do the [exercises] and get away with it, but I feel like [Maximovich] has trust in us, that she trusts us to be doing our workouts.”

Mucharla took PE in her freshman year and found it to be a low-stress class that was a way to temporarily disconnect from her other academic courses. She was excited to take PE again her senior year and while she acknowledges Sulivan’s efforts, she wishes it were possible to cover actual racquet sport techniques and misses the in-person interactions that would happen if school were face-to-face.

 “The social aspect of PE was really fun — it was fun to talk to my friends after or before a long day of school,” Mucharla said. “It’s fun to get some social time in and I feel like online you’re just alone, doing the workouts, which is not as great.”

Despite this, Debnath appreciates that online PE at MVHS is more involved compared to other schools, 

“A lot of my friends in other schools have a PE log,” Debnath said. “So for PE, they have a free period and they login [and][do] their runs and other workouts — [which] [they’re] usually not doing.”

Because Yerraguntla finds sitting at her desk looking at a computer for long periods of time tiring, she now finds PE as a way for her to reset and to be more productive and healthy. 

“I value athleticism and working out, but it hasn’t often translated into me actually putting in the work to do it,” Yerraguntla said. “Oftentimes, I find myself too busy, or I’m too tired by the time it reaches the end of my day when I usually want to work out. So I was very inconsistent before, but I think [PE] has definitely taught me to be more consistent with my workouts.”