By Morgan Clark, Staff Writer 

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The buzz around campus regarding required PHE classes always seems to center around one question: “Why do I have to take a gym class?” I’ve heard this come out of the mouths of many, including my own. In order to graduate from UMF you must complete the dreaded PHE requirement, and it isn’t worth any credit (what!?). So why do we need to take the class?

The answer is actually quite simple: to be more active and comfortable at the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC). What better way to learn about the FRC than to go there three times a week and be shown how to utilize its resources by a fellow student? PHE classes are taught by UMF students who not only excel in this area, but truly enjoy doing what they do. As students themselves, they can genuinely  connect well with those students who may struggle to find enjoyment in physical activity.

I think it is beneficial to teach our peers because we can relate to them,” said Mike Bottai, a UMF junior and PHE instructor. “Each instructor had to go through the same experience.” The intent of the program is to get students more comfortable being on campus, generally as a new student, so the best way to accomplish this is with student instructors.

It also gives instructors the experience they need for after graduation. “Teaching people how to be physically fit and be healthy is what I want to do for a career when I leave UMF, and I think that this is good practice,” said David Scammon, a sophomore who is in his first semester of teaching PHE classes. “I like that it keeps me physically active as well, along with just keeping me busy in general.”

In terms of selecting a PHE class, there is a wide range of options for students, from playing games to lifting weights. Though each is held at the FRC and taught by UMF students, every class provides students with a different experience.

“I felt more comfortable asking questions about the gym, being a new student, than just having to jump right into asking an adult,” said Cassandra Morgan, a student who took the PHE Cardio class her first semester on campus. “They were able to give me personal opinions on what they liked to do at the gym so it gave me ideas for when I went by myself.”

Like Morgan I had a similar experience. “Gym class” as it is affectionately known as around campus helped me in my first semester of college. I felt more comfortable being at the gym and learned new exercises I could do on my own. It was also much less intimidating being taught by a fellow student, even if they were several years older than me. I was that fragile freshman, not confident on campus at all. When I went to my first class on the first day I found that everyone had the same deer-in-the-headlights look that I soon learned most freshman carry around.

I felt like I had been forced back into high school, the place I thought I had just escaped from. I didn’t like being told I had to take a class for zero credits and wouldn’t be able to graduate if I didn’t. I thought college was about choice.

However, it’s not like high school, in fact, just the opposite. We were given countless options in the activities we were doing, something I cannot say about my high school gym class. In PHE we were taught how to use the facility, not how to throw a dodgeball (though we may have learned that too). And let’s be honest, how many people can say they are worse off after taking the class? I know I can’t. And more than that, I can now confidently say that I made it through the dreaded PHE class and may have even enjoyed doing so.