New PE Class at North Combines Mind and Body

North High is offering a new PE course

North High is offering a new PE courseL the Psychology of Health and Fitness.

Imagine a teenager anxious to get up early in the morning and get to school so he can work out in gym class – in the middle of winter!

That’s Jonathan Gonzalez, a sophomore at North High School. Last fall he and fellow 10th grader Joseph Snyder were two of only four students who enrolled in what was then a new physical education course offering at North called The Psychology of Health and Fitness. Jon and Joe were so impressed and affected by the class that they both re-upped for it this semester. Only now, instead of being half of the class, they are just two out of 28.

Lisa Klein teaches the class that features running in a community 5K event as the final exam. Jon and Joe passed the Jingle Bell Jam with flying colors last semester. Later this spring they and their classmates will go start to finish in the second annual Run With the Police on May 21st, sponsored by the Des Moines Police Department.

Klein’s a fitness fanatic from way back. She graduated from North in 1987 and ran track in high school and college. She used to coach cross-country and is on the treadmill every morning at 5:00 AM. By the time she greets her students at school she’s just getting warmed up to work out right alongside them. But the petite dynamo is at work on more than her students’ bodies.

“When I used to feel like stopping she would come up behind me and say ‘You can do it,’” said Joseph in the weight room at North last week. He is grinning to the brink of laughter. “The last quiz I had in algebra, I was having trouble and I thought of her and I could hear her whispering ‘You can do it…’ and I did do it!”

Joseph goes on to brag about how he could hardly swim and barely lift the bars without any weights on them before this class. But he is bragging on Klein. She’s like a personal trainer for each of her students.

“We stress a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset,” she said. “Growth finds ways to meet and defeat challenges. Fixed just gives up.”

She keeps the class from lapsing into drudgery by mixing it up. Sometimes they swim. Sometimes they work on strength training in the weight room. Sometimes they get out and ride bikes or go to Gray’s Lake for a run.

“Once we had (boys’ basketball coach) Chad Ryan drive us out and drop us off for what I told them was a ‘destination run.’ We were as far from school as a 5K event would be but they all made it back. I told them, ‘Now you know you can do it.’”

Jonathan lost 15 pounds during the first semester of the class and is planning to go out for the track team this spring, his first involvement in organized athletics. Klein says he has become a mentor this semester.

“He is always helping the students who are new to this,” she said. “I told him it’s a beautiful thing to see him reaching out to them.”

She can use the help. When enrollment in a class balloons from four to 28 in one semester it’s hard to maintain the personal touch that Klein is known for. It’s like she is handing off the baton to the next leg of the relay. And she’s not even breathing hard.

Psychology of Health & Fitness – DMPS-TV News

Photos of North’s Psychology of Exercise Class

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