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MIT student blogger Mitra L. '07

Let’s Get Physical by Mitra L. '07

Olivia Newton-John, I am not, but I can still pretend.

Olivia Newton-John, I am not, but I can still pretend. MIT’s Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) is in charge of the physical education (PE) requirement that MIT students have the privilege of completing before grdauation. You can read more about the PE requirement here. If you’re a varsity athlete, earning your 8 units of PE credit will most likely not be difficult. Though I run 4 miles every morning and sort of played intramural (IM) dodgeball with my floor (before chickening out after seeing how psycho all the Ben Stiller-wannabes were), I need to get my 8 units the old-fashioned way: PE classes.

(I was going to make a joke about how “IM sports” aren’t sports you play online, but people make plenty of those jokes during Orientation, so I’ll save mine for then.)

There are lots of sessions for PE classes — 2 during each semester, during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), and over the summer. So far, I have taken beginner tennis. That’s it. They recommend you finish your PE classes by sophomore year, but obviously it’s a little late for that. I hope I don’t end up like my friend Rose, who took PE golf right up until May so she would be able to graduate in June. (No offense, Rose. You still rock.)

Okay, so I went through the list and picked out the ones that sounded interesting/do-able. Please help me pick which class(es?) I should take this semester.

A basic course in fundamentals of target shooting. Class will be conducted indoors.

Bootcamp Workout
A highly challenging and very intensive fast-paced structured workout to improve cardiovascular fitness, balance and coordination, muscle strength, agility, flexibility, and overall physical conditioning.

Cardio Kickboxing
Incorporates Taekwondo and Boxing. Excellent aerobic workout designed to focus on toning and strengthening while utilizing self-defense and martial arts based moves. No previous experience necessary.

Dance-Middle Eastern
This tradition is vivacious, supple, graceful, and sublime. Classes consist of warm-ups, exercises focusing on isolation and coordina- tion, followed by dance combinations. All WOMEN regardless of age and figure are welcome. Wear leotard, tights, or loose-fitting clothes to class.

Dance- Modern Squares
This challenging class teaches you Plus level square dancing set to a wide range of modern music. We begin by teaching you the calls which make up each level of dancing, which you then apply throughout the class. A group of eight dancers works together in this unique form of American dance. Focus is on fast and rigorous learning, reaction time, and flow. No experience or partner necessary. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Location changes: first class in Lobdell.

Figure Skating
This class builds on the skills taught in the general skating class. It is assumed that you will already know how to skate backwards and forwards. This class will improve your style of skating, and you will learn a variety of figure skating moves, including forward and backward edges, mohawk and three turns, spirals, lunges, spins, and a variety of jumps (bunny hops, waltz jumps, toe-loops, mazurkas, salchows, etc.). You must have figure skates. (Hockey skates are unsuitable for this class.) Rentals are available at the rink.

Fitness For Life
This class is comprised of aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, and an assorment of mini-lectures on nutrition, injury prevention, and what occurs physiologically while you are getting fit. Please dress for activity for first class.

In this class, students will learn the basics of both toss juggling and diabolo (Chinese yo-yo). We will cover techniques including three, four and more balls, passing, tricks that impress audiences and tricks that impress jugglers. The class is geared toward beginners, but students with previous experience are welcome to come and learn more advanced techniques.

Karate – Shokotan
This class is an introduction into Shotokan Karate. Shotokan is the oldest and most popular Karate style. Enlightenment is its basic goal. Training entails stretching, basic techniques, Katas and sparring. Techniques include deep stances, punches and kicking, blocks and sidewards movements. The class is taught by Tabata Sensei, an 8th degree black belt and former US national coach.

Intro to Pilates
An introduction to the variety of pilates exercises and theories. Become comfortable with your own body and aware of its amazing capabilities!

Introduction to the sport of rugby covering basic fundamentals, rules, and team play. Scrimmaging will be non-contact.

Introduction to the basic fundamentals of sailing with theory and practice. Take advantage of MIT’s fine sailing facility on the Charles River. Students must present a boating swim test certificate at the first class.

Introduction of the basic skills for beginners who wish to learn this fast moving indoor racquet sport. All necessary equipment is provided.

Energy, peak performance, and relaxation provide a practical toolbox of techniques and experiences. It is designed to empower you to concentrate, remember, generate energy, and sleep well. The meditations give you perspective and help balance the competing demands of a fast-paced life.

(complete listing of classes)

What do you recommend?

24 responses to “Let’s Get Physical”

  1. Sam says:

    I strongly discourage you from enrolling in tai chi, last year the instructor told me that one of my forms looked like a dog trying to urinate on the ceiling, which prevented me from achieving inner peace. I think yoga would be great, but it never fits in with my schedule. I’m all about the low-impact fitness, as you can tell. What is pilates anyway?

  2. Mitra says:

    Um, I don’t really know, but maybe it will help me discover my body’s amazing capabilities. (Will it help me run the marathon?) Stella took it freshman year, and she enjoyed it.

  3. Annie says:

    Take juggling! Not many people realize this, but juggling is very mathematical and therefore fun.

  4. Bryan says:

    I hear Power Yoga is not to be taken lightly. I hear the sailing PE is pretty awesome.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do NOT take the square dancing class. Having grown up in the Midwest I can assure you that square dancing is not at all a physical necessity nor a social grace. Karate looks cool.

  6. I would take Archery, Boot Camp, Figure Skating, Juggling, or Sailing.

    I would take Taichi, but I don’t know how the class is taught at MIT.

    And juggling is awesome. Period.

    From what I hear from a friend there, the Sailing PE is indeed awesome.

  7. Laura says:

    Hmmm….I’d probably pick Bootcamp Workout, but I’m psycho like that. Rugby is cool but they say “Scrimmaging will be non-contact,” which takes all the fun out of it.

    Archery and juggling sound like cool choices if you don’t want to actually exert yourself much. But I think sailing sounds awesome.

  8. sam – pilates is sort of a yoga-spinoff – this guy named Pilates was a yoga teacher and made his own version that is more strength and “core body” (i.e. abs and back) focused and that uses a lot of small repetitive motions.

    anyway, i took these PEs:

    yoga: ok, actually it was REALLY bad compared to yoga I’ve taken not at MIT, but that might have just been the instructor. Yoga in general is super cool.

    ice skating: really fun!!! and then you can go to the Frog Pond in boston and skate with your buddies.

    archery: also really cool, would highly recommend.

    pilates: would recommend.

    golf: was pretty cool, I think now I can go to a mini-golf course without shame.

    (so now you’re thinking “mitra said she took golf up until the end to graduate, but these PEs add up to 5! dont you only need 4?” indeed, young frosh and pre-frosh, you only need 4 PEs. but I missed too many Pilates classes so i was holding out until the very end for that Golf credit smile )

  9. nehalita says:

    I must say i’m partial to the

    (1)dance – middle eastern (taken traditional indian classes myself)

    but if you’re looking for some fun and dancing isn’t you cup of tea,

    (2) karate’s awesome (took many years of Tae Kwon Do).

    Otherwise i’m sure learning

    (3) figure skating would come in very handy when you are with your friends and you have the chance to skate backwards and watch everyone fall down,

    but finally, i can’t avoid the

    (4) Yoga class screaming at me. Yoga builds the body and just makes you feel good. I miss it…

  10. MITmom says:

    I’ve done belly dancing and thought it was great (I’m assuming that Middle Eastern dancing is the same). But I think you should choose sailing. That’s the one thing on the list that (a) you would not be able to do anywhere, and (b) requires a large piece of specialized equipment. You can always take up juggling or any of the other things on the list after you graduate. But you may not have another good opportunity to learn to sail.

  11. Vamsi says:

    Hi Im vamsi it has been my childhood dream to enter MIT.Im in INDIA i cant get full information about MIT and SAT Pls Help Me.

  12. Sam says:

    Also, is it wrong that I now associate this song not with Olivia Newton-John but with the fantastically bad cover performed by Carmen Rasmusen, Julia DeMato, and Kim Caldwell on the American Idol 2 finale?

    You’re definitely no Carmen Rasmusen.

  13. Spencer says:

    I’ve taken the Jiu-Jitsu PE course, in which they teach fun stuff like choking someone unconscious and inflicting paralyzing pain. I really enjoyed it!

  14. Nabil says:

    Vamsi, you obviously have internet access, all the info you need is on MIT’s site! Anyway, you need to take the SAT or the ACT (old or new for both), along with 3 SAT 2s (one math, one science and one of your choice). Good luck!

    -(not an admissions person, just some guy)

  15. Melis says:

    I took golf first quarter and I learned enough to be able to go to the driving range without embarrassing myself too much. Unfortunately, the awesome instructor just retired.

    Conditioning was a pretty hardcore class and I’d recommend it to anyone who really wants to get sweaty!

  16. MJ says:

    just keep swimming… just keep swimming…

    Steph reminded me this quote, and i would really choose swimming.

    a question: will get the chance to try the MIT pool before the swim test?

  17. MJ says:

    sorry.. there should be will we get.(fill in the blank)…..

  18. Mitra says:

    You can look at the pool’s schedule here:

    It looks like the information is updated every 2 weeks, so it will probably be updated once more before Orientation begins.

  19. Yiwei says:

    Hey Mitra! This is Yiwei from before when I visited MIT and you showed me around. I got placed into MacGregor for now =D. I had a suggestion for a future topic if you had time. For all of us incoming freshman, it’d probably be useful to know…what should we and should we not bring with us to college? Atleast I hope I’m not the only one feeling like I’m trying to cram a truckload of stuff into a sardine can. Just some basic essentials would be nice! Hope you’re enjoying California. Look forward to seeing you again in a month!

  20. mari says:

    I love that you have a link to the Olivia Newton-John official web site! When I was a sentimental 10-year-old, “Have You Never Been Mellow” was a favorite song, along with “The Night Chicago Died” and “Seasons in the Sun.” Re PE, I keep taking Beginner Tennis over and over again here at MIT. It’s fun, not intimidating, and welcoming to those, like me, who are athletically challenged.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Oh, you must so do fencing!

  22. Shirin says:

    Hiya Mitra,

    I’ve taken the middle eastern dancing PE class at the Z-center and then an additional middle eastern dance class at the A-center (which required a fee) and I would have to say that if you want to do that then take the one at the A-Center which is taught fairly well and you learn dance moves and break a sweat even (or just have really sore hips and arms). The PE class on the other hand was much more, uh, laughable. The teaching was not too good and I would look often at my watch to see if the hour was up.

  23. Ruth says:

    Wow, this is a lot of comments. I thought I was going to contribute something shocking/ meaningful.

    I’ve taken tae kwon doe, beginner and intermediate pistol, (3/4 of the required) and this fall I’m playing varsity Rugby (5/4!). All three I highly recommend. The two TKD clubs alternate which semesters their people teach the TKD class, and as someone who did TKD in middle school, it’s awesome watching new people try to kick. Pistol is hard to get into, but if you show up early before the first class, you have a good shot of getting in even if you didn’t lottery into it. After beginning pistol, intermediate is always really easy to get into, and the coach is really cool (in a very serious way).

    Something meaningful to add: there’s something called the “Pirate’s Badge.” It’s not a physical badge, as much as something you can say you did while at MIT. It entails taking the four classes nessecary to becoming a pirate – pistol, archery, fencing, and sailing. I can’t swim well, but think that rugby is infinitely harder core than swash buckling any day.

  24. Zaira says:

    MIT has figure skating!!!

    You can’t even imagine that here in South Texas (I mean, the REAL South of Texas. My love for MIT just grows every day.