A survey of PE classes at Dartmouth

by Samantha Hussey and Sabena Allen | 2/20/17 2:30am


Zumba, a Latin-dance aerobic workout that incorporates movements from a variety of dance styles such as hip hop and salsa, is currently one of the most popular PE courses offered at Dartmouth. Working under the motto, “Ditch the workout, join the party,” Zumba classes pride themselves on mixing high- and low-intensity cardio moves in an interval-style that makes the workouts effective in burning calories.

Zumba Toning, an advanced version of Zumba, incorporates a lightweight, maraca-like toning stick that helps tone specific areas of the body, including the arms, abs and thighs.

Strength Training with Free Weights & Weight Machines:

Strength Training focuses on beginners who are unaware of the safety and efficiency in weightlifting. With an average class of 12 students, these sections are generally small relative to other PE courses.

“Early in the term we learn terminology — reps, sets, axis of rotation, range of motion — how to use resistance equipment and proper form,” instructor Jolin Salazar-Kish said. “We then move to free weights and finish with floor work, abdominal work and stretching techniques.”

By the end of the course, instructors hope their students can enter any gym with confidence and feel knowledgeable and comfortable enough to use the equipment to their maximum benefit.

Similar to Strength Training, Stretch-Strength & Balance combines weight machines and cardio exercises with stability balls, stretching and balance training.

Torso Fitness:

“Torso Fitness is a class for core conditioning to develop strong abs, back, core support muscles and flexibility,” instructor Hugh Mellert said. “My own personal experience with back injury combined with my fitness background was natural for developing this course. Interestingly, over the 20 years that I have been teaching this course, the role of strong core muscles has become a more important focus point in fitness and health. My classes are designed to work with any fitness level. I have 70 year old people and 19 years olds in the same class doing a workout that is suitable for their own personal fitness level.”


“I started to teach Insanity because it was the program that kickstarted my own weightless and journey to health,” instructor Madelyn May said. “I wanted to share what worked for me. Plus the music is amazing, and the workout goes by so fast! Insanity is High Intensity Interval Training, so we are working with explosive plyometric moves. Although, HIIT can be intimidating and look really hard, it can be modified for all levels. This class is unique because of the music and the combo of moves. It is high energy that feels like ‘Oh my goodness not another one’ and then all of a sudden, you have a rest! The whole class builds on each other like a little family, and it becomes a great hour of stress relief.”

DARTFIT (Dynamic Anaerobic Resistance Training):

This course combines high intensity cardio interval training and resistance training by using body weight, dumbbells, medicine balls and kettle bells.

“I decided to start teaching these classes because group fitness is a great way to start getting yourself accountable at the gym and/or to mix it up,” said Madelyn May, one of the three DARTFIT instructors. “DARTFIT is 100 percent [for] all levels. Anyone can do the moves, we just adjust the weights or you move slower and faster based on your ability. The focus is to get the body moving, to pick up some weights and challenge your cardio endurance.”


Formed 15 years ago, the spinning class is always high in demand. Each of the nine sections provides a group workout on Star Trac Bikes that uses music to pump up the body, while simultaneously improving cardio endurance and toning target areas.

“At the beginning of the term there are always newbies,” instructor Amy Mitson said. “I encourage participants to act like beginners, take it slow and most importantly, come back! The bike can feel strange at first, but then participants get stronger, things feel better and people have more fun.”

Gregorio Amaro, another spinning instructor, said the class offers a variety of challenges, including riding fast across flat terrain.

Mitson noted how the improved facilities helped accommodate the demand for spinning classes in recent years.

“When I first started teaching at Dartmouth, there were about 10 bikes in the Berry classroom of the old Kresge Fitness Center,” Mitson said. “The facilities are much improved in recent years with a bright space, big windows, new bikes and double the number of participants.”

Z/HIIT (Z Station/High Intensity Interval Training):

Z/HIIT combines short, high intensity cardio and strength intervals using the versatility of the new Z Station.

“My main focus is general fitness applicable to daily life,” instructor Joel Baker said. “I usually have different parts of class for different goals. For example, the class will stretch and use dynamic movements to warm up for the first 10 minutes. After that, we do some laps, bodyweight exercises to elevate the heart rate and cardio. After that, there are different stations for exercises with different focuses, [such as] explosiveness, power, agility, strength, etc. and then cool down with 10 minutes of abs and stretching. I try to have a unique style of coaching. While the students need to respect the instructor, it’s important to keep them optimistic about the workout. I often incorporate team building exercises or games such as relay races or agility tag, a speed-based partner tag exercise.”


Racquetball classes focuses on developing consistent patterns of positioning, stroke form and shot selection. While these skills evolve a lot during the eight-week course, students generally begin with simple routines and later progress to variations and more complex patterns.

“[To make the class fun], we try a variety of ‘funny rule’ games: playing both right and left-handed, singles and doubles, [and] in-class mini-tournaments,” said instructor Denis Rydjeski, who has taught the class for 12 years.


This program covers basic technique, courtcraft and strategy. Often compared to chess, instructor William Bassett believes that squash appeals to students on a unique intellectual and competitive level.

“Squash is one of only a few racquet sports, unlike tennis or badminton, where you share the playing area with your opponent,” Bassett said. “Teaching a sport where the participants, with racquets, share a 21 feet by 32 feet space is challenging from a safety point of view. This somehow adds to the uniqueness of the experience.”

Table Tennis:

Students in the class learn about the fundamentals of table tennis through types of strokes and spins. Limited to 10 participants, students are able to learn these skills in a small environment with plenty of on-table practice.

“Kardio Konditioning”:

“Kardio Konditioning” is an aerobics-based training class that integrates a variety of exercises such as running, jump rope and strength training in an intense workout to music. For instructor Sue Darling, teaching this course is so rewarding.

“Watching people who aren’t necessarily athletes come to the class consecutively and watch the improvement on their bodies is one of my greatest joys,” Darling said. “Watching someone that has had very little activity in x amount of years and watching that improvement — it’s amazing.”

Kickbox Aerobics:

Like “Kardio Konditioning,” “Kickbox Aerobics” works on kicking, punching, plyometrics and strength conditioning, alongside some great music.

“I try to work with all different levels,” said Sue Darling, who has taught kickboxing for around 18 years. “I am always showing different modifications which is very important so people don’t get discouraged. Everyone is at different fitness levels and sometimes you are starting at the very beginning.”

Ice Fishing:

The PE Department works in tandem with other organizations such as the Dartmouth Outing Club to provide other interesting opportunities for students to fulfill their PE credits. One of the more unique courses offered during the winter is the DOC’s Ice Fishing class taught by Ray Crosby, a staffer at Collis Center. This small course, with a maximum of 12 students, requires two indoor classes in Robinson Hall, where students learn the theory and techniques of how to fish specifically in a winter environment.

Upon completion of these two classes, students spend a few hours the following Saturday on Occom Pond applying those skills and fishing from a hole cut from the ice.


FLIP offers a variety of classes: improvisation, modern, belly dancing, swing dancing, line dancing and salsa. Instructor Jamie Orr said his classes help students socialize and find a good community.

“I hope that students discover that dancing isn’t old fashioned. In particular, swing and Latin dances are commonly danced to contemporary music,” Orr said.

Students have class two hours per week for eight weeks in order to earn their PE credit. Orr’s evening classes have anywhere from 25 to 35 students, and his daytime line dance classes have about 15 students.

“At any ability level, [dance is] a low-pressure way to mix socially,” Orr said. “And dancers are such friendly people.”

Martial arts:

FLIP offers several martial arts classes. In one combined Japanese technique class, students learn self-defense through jujitsu and aikido and Japanese swordsmanship through iaido. The tai chi class focuses on strength and balance for meditation and health. Instructor Claudia Henrion says the class involves, “learning the first section of the tai chi form as well as other exercises that build strength, flexibility, balance as well as relaxing both mind and body.”

Nicholas Bramlage teaches jujitsu, where students learn how to defend themselves in situations where their attacker is bigger and stronger than they are.

“It’s great for building confidence, self-esteem, discipline, self-control, everything you really desire in life,” Bramlage said.


Students can take hockey lessons from members of the women’s varsity hockey team. Early lessons focus on skating technique as students enter the class at different levels, said instructor and women’s hockey player Devon Moir ’17, and proceed to learn hockey drills and gameplay. Moir said that hockey is different than other sports because skating is a whole other component that a player must master.

“Most of the players have either a little experience at hockey or no experience, so I think that’s the biggest takeaway — that they can learn something new and put in a little bit of work to get better,” Moir said.

Ice skating:

Beginning, intermediate and figure skating are taught by members of the figure skating team. There are about 20 students in each class, and students break off into sections of four to six students, instructor Charlotte Kuller ’20 said. According to Kuller, the class adapts to students’ pace of learning, focusing on getting students comfortable on the ice.

“I hope people can come away from this class enjoying skating, especially because up here there are so many great opportunities for outdoors skating, which everyone should be able to have fun doing,” Kuller said.

Snow sports:

Snow sports — including snowboarding and alpine, Nordic, and telemark skiing — are the most popular of Dartmouth’s PE offerings during the winter. Over 50 Dartmouth students are employed as instructors each season, and anywhere from 200 to 250 students take classes every winter. Students take skiing or snowboarding classes once a week, and buses are available to take students to the Skiway.

Beginning skiers and snowboarders will be able to use the chairlift by the end of the eight-week session, according to John Brady, head of the Dartmouth ski program. Dartmouth is a school “above any other college in the country is part of the history of skiing, and it’s a great thing to do in the winter when the streets are covered in snow,” according to Brady. Dartmouth students “just have to walk across the Green with their skis, get on the bus, go up, put their boots on, and take their classes.


Sailing lessons are offered during the summer term at the Dartmouth Yacht Club on Mascoma Lake. Groups of 16 students are taught by sailing professionals or members of the varsity sailing team. Students learn to sail at least three out of the five different boats available at the lake. “We’re not just teaching [students] to sail one particular kind of boat, we are teaching them how to sail,” instructor John Brady said. “The goal is that when they finish the class, they’re not going to be an expert sailor, but they should be able to get on any sailboat and at least help the captain run the boat.”

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