By Ruth Kramer ’18, Co-Editor-in-Chief
It is perhaps one of the most underrated ways to get a sports credit in the whole Upper School: Winter P.E. Ten weeks of exercise with 15 other girls and Mrs. Corwin was not what I thought I’d be doing to earn my Upper School sports credit. I was very reluctant and weary when I signed up to participate in jazzercise, yoga, and barre classes three days every week. What would we be doing? Would I like it? Would I look stupid doing stretches in yoga class? And what in the world even is a barre class? These questions and more haunted me all of the fall season. But, I had to get my gym credit. So, I signed up for ten weeks of dancing, yoga, and unbelievable leg pain. Surprisingly enough, Winter P.E. was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I would recommend it to anyone.
I was one of six girls who would regularly need a ride to jazzercise and barre class, both of which were off campus. Mrs. Corwin happily chauffeured the six of us to Norwood and back on Tuesdays, and our weekly runs to Kenwood’s Body Alive on Thursdays were definitely some of the best parts of the whole season. The conversations and laughs shared along the highways between Country Day and Jazzercise will be some of my favorite “team bonding” memories that I will take with me after Country Day. The looks of mutual pain in barre class and the struggles to stretch in yoga were enough to bring us together as a team. Though we had many fun memories, our classes were about serious fitness and wellness. So, for all considering Winter P.E. in the future, here is a breakdown of one of the most fun sports activities in the Upper School.
Jazzercise. Okay, I laughed when I first heard it too. Jazzercise as in spirit fingers and tap shoes? No, I thought, there is no way I’m doing that. But then our first class rolled around and though some of the dance moves made me laugh, I was pleasantly surprised. I was even struggling to keep up, as dancing is not my forté. The playlist chosen by our instructor was fun and upbeat; following a cardio climb and leading back down to stretching. The songs are great, but the dance moves are what really makes the class enjoyable. When mixed with today’s hits, the mambas and high kicks keep you hyped and involved. Junior Jessie Lang says that Jazzercise is a great way to “get pumped up, and having your friends there is what makes it really fun.” And even if you aren’t the best dancer in the world (as I certainly am not), the class is still very fun and all are capable of participating in it.
Yoga class takes place on campus and truly opened my eyes to the idea of meditation and mindfulness. Taught by junior Sid Chandrasekar’s mother and performed in the peace and quiet of Mrs. Petre’s middle school classroom, yoga and its relaxation techniques made me breathe deeply for the first time in months. Truly pushing my body to become more flexible and try new things was really fun and de-stressing. While I failed a lot of the time, trying a full-on bridge pose for the first time was so cool and, once I actually could hold the pose, rewarding. Yoga is a great de-stressor, with many different poses to best relax and let go of all of the feelings from earlier that day. The Breath of Fire and the Wood Chopper were favorites of mine and when real force is put behind the pose, stress and negative energy is truly released. Something Mrs. Chandrasekar said quite often was to think of our experiences that day and not judge the experience, but just focus on the feeling. And as cheesy as it may sound, it’s such a therapeutic idea. Judging the experiences around you only makes you unhappy or feel discontented; just letting experiences happen and living with them brings serenity and inner peace. I can thank yoga for making me more mindful and less stressed over the little things. Life happens in the best and worst ways and appreciating the good and letting go of the bad is one of the best ways to live.
And then there is barre. I had never heard of barre class before I signed up for Winter P.E. My friends had said that it was a painful experience with good music, but I doubted that the class would be as hard or painful as they had said. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Barre class originates from real ballet training and as a result, it is a solid hour leg workout with small sections devoted to arms, glutes, and abs. It hurts. It burns. And it makes you shake. After the first class, I stood straight up, unmoving, and my legs were shaking uncontrollably. But, it’s not the constant squatting or relevés that kill your legs– it’s the one inch pulses of moving up and down that cause the unbearable pain. A person cannot understand how hard barre class is until they have experienced it first-hand. So, football players, lacrosse players, swimmers, any athlete who wants to feel the burn, go try a barre class and let me know how your legs feel the day after. Juniors Kaity Travis and Emily Ray agree that “we all struggle together, but that’s what makes it fun.”
On paper, Winter P.E. is all about promoting fitness and wellness in different and maybe unorthodox ways. But it is so much more than that. I would never have tried Jazzercise, yoga, or barre class without Winter P.E. Something about trying to stay in rhythm to a Jazzercise class, or falling all over each other in yoga, or staring into the sweaty souls of your barre neighbor really brings you closer and makes you into a team.