A New Workout Routine

Other high schools in the Pittsburgh area approach physical education classes differently.


photo by Jess Daninhirsch

A more diverse offering of gym classes at NA will benefit students, especially those who are actively involved in sports outside of school.

Kate Gilliland, Staff Writer

The North Allegheny School District Program of Studies requires all students to earn at least two full credits of gym over four years to graduate. Gym can be taken every day for one semester or every other day for the entire school year. At NASH, the gym curriculum differs between 11th and 12th grade, but it has the same general idea.

However, this method of teaching gym is quite uncommon in the Pittsburgh area. High schools such as Upper St. Clair require their students to take four semesters of gym but allow students to take two semesters of gym in one school year, allowing them the opportunity to earn enough gym credits in two years. Other schools, including North Hills High School, only require one semester of gym. Mars Area High School requires one and a half credits of physical education.

The state of Pennsylvania does not require high school students to take gym for all four years of high school. The decision regarding how many years students must take gym is up to each school district and varies among many districts in the area.

The state of Pennsylvania does not require high school students to take gym for all four years of high school.

This should raise the question whether NA’s approach is best for students.

Some students involved in a sports team work out with their teammates, whereas some enjoy working out on their own. In my experience, some of those students often do not find gym to be especially useful and may prefer an extra study hall or elective.

When working on creating my schedule for junior year last year, I thought I had just enough room to fit in a full-year elective that I have wanted to take for a long time. However, I then remembered that a half-credit of physical education was needed. This half-credit stopped me from being able to take the elective — a common issue for students looking to optimize their schedules.

I am a part of a sports team and work out on my own outside of school, so taking gym just does not feel particularly useful to me. In gym classes, it is also common to see student athletes not put in 100% effort because they have practice or a game after school and do not want to wear themselves out.

If NA will not consider reducing its physical education graduation requirements, there are ways to make gym more enjoyable.

The reason why so many students seem to dislike working out in gym class is its regimented nature. Giving students more freedom may create better results. Even just a free day once a week where students can choose what they want to do in gym could allow students to enjoy the workout.

Now, saying that I would rather not take gym does not mean that I have had a terrible experience in all of my gym classes and that I dislike the physical education teachers. All the physical education teachers I have had at North Allegheny have been extraordinary teachers and people. I would just rather take another elective and work out on my own outside of school.

But there are some students who enjoy gym and I’m sure would love to continue taking it for four years. In that case, NA should look to other schools in the area that provide several types of gym classes.

Some may want to take a class that focuses all year on strength training and weight lifting. That is exactly what North Hills High School offers. The course is titled “Personal Fitness: Strength and Conditioning.” It gives students the opportunity to get their needed gym credit and do an activity they enjoy.

North Hills physical education electives also provide a class titled “Foundations of Yoga, Pilates, and Mindfulness.” In this class, students learn methods to reduce stress and increase self-confidence. This class could be a good option for those who want to take gym but do not want to do high-intensity workouts.

Baierl Center / Overview
The Baierl Center on the NASH campus. photo courtesy of NASD

NASH’s access to the Baierl Center just across the parking lot is a real benefit. This space could allow North Allegheny to have an amazing gym program with great variety. With all the space and well-rounded staff we have, NA could have a full roster of different classes taught by teachers who are truly passionate about that specific focus of their particular phys ed course.

There are many alternatives to traditional gym class. North Allegheny could either lessen the amount of years or credits required or give their students more options, which I believe would be appreciated by both those who like gym and those who don’t.



Editors’ note: All opinions expressed on The Uproar are a reflection solely of the beliefs of the bylined author and not the journalism program at NASH.  We continue to welcome school-appropriate comments and guest articles.