Some PE Classes That Just Work Out

The Stuyvesant Physical Education and Health Department provides various unconventional physical education courses to the student body.

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By Aishwarjya Barua

Stuyvesant High School is well known for having a plethora of classes that students can take. This abundance of opportunities applies to anything from art courses, such as painting, to physical education (PE) electives. Even though Stuyvesant has a reputation as a school centered around math and sciences, our physical education program is considered to be one of the best in the city, according to Stuyvesant PE teacher Dr. Anna Markova. “I definitely think physical education in our school is the best in the city and, I would not be hesitant to say, in the state,” Dr. Markova said. While the traditional PE courses are available for all grades, upperclassmen have the ability to choose a specialized PE elective that interests them, such as ballroom dancing, rollerblading, boxing, running, lifeguarding, water polo, or cycling. Here is a look into some of these specialized classes:


Ballroom is currently taught by PE teacher Silvana Choy. Choy first began teaching this course when the former teacher, Martha Singer, retired. Choy teaches a rich curriculum where students get to learn both Latin and swing dance; a few of the units she teaches include the tango, waltz, and foxtrot. Each class is a “fun and social” affair and involves students pairing up and learning new dances together. Senior Samantha Zheng, who is currently taking the class, explained that Choy is very helpful and attentive during classes: “Choy is awesome and definitely helps you a lot.” When asked about her experience in the class, Zheng said, “It has been great; it’s definitely more enjoyable because it’s not like any other class that I’ve been in.” Both Choy and Zheng emphasized that ballroom “is a life skill that can be enjoyed well into your senior years.” Zheng further described that students will utilize the skill set learned from ballroom because “you will dance with people in the real world [and] at weddings.”


Lifeguarding is an immersive class that PE teacher Anetta Luczak believes can help teach students how to act in an emergency—even in life or death situations—and practice teamwork. While Luczak is required to follow the American Red Cross lifeguarding curriculum, she works to make this class a fun and social experience in which students have the opportunity to learn more than just what is required by the curriculum. The main goal of the American Red Cross lifeguarding curriculum, aside from educating students on how to keep swimmers safe, is to make sure that students master water proficiency, which includes being able to swim 300 yards using freestyle or breaststroke, retrieving a 10-pound brick from the bottom of the pool, and treading water for two minutes. All of the skills that lifeguarding students learn are tested with two written tests provided by the American Red Cross lifeguarding curriculum at the end of the semester. Because the majority of the American Red Cross lifeguarding curriculum is online, Luczak asks students to watch the videos online. This is so that Luczak can utilize the time she has in class to teach students hands-on activities in the pool. Luczak aims to help students have as much firsthand experience as possible. By the end of the class, students will have both a CPR and a lifeguarding certification and know everything there is to know about “spinal management, distressed swimmers, rescue breathing, CPR, and working in small groups [and] teams,” Luczak said.


Dr. Markova helped bring the indoor cycling elective to Stuyvesant because she wanted to help students be “comfortable to walk into any spin studio, join the class, be safe, and know the moves so they can enjoy the workout without any hesitation.” Dr. Markova herself has taken many classes at SoulCycle, Flywheel, and her gym to get inspiration and ideas for the class and does spinning up to four times a week. Dr. Markova was drawn to cycling because of her love for music and dance; she saw that this was the perfect way to combine her passion for exercising with her love of the arts. Dr. Markova explained that “spinning is like dancing on the bike,” and that she wanted to share this experience with students at Stuyvesant. Dr. Markova makes sure that safety is a priority in her class and that her students learn how to properly handle and set up their bicycles. The best part of the class comes after the warm-up when Dr. Markova teaches “technique[s] like different moves, how to follow the music, [and] how to bike effectively and efficiently with proper body position and alignment.”