Working abs rather than minds

Libby Watkins

by Libby Watkins

Whitman FitnessAmidst their busy schedules, heavy class loads and countless hours spent in the library, Whitman students have found a way to take a break from their work and still receive credit towards graduation.  

Through the extensive number of activity courses the college offers, students can learn a new sport, like rock climbing or kayaking, all the while having fun and meeting new people.

After having played tennis all through high school, first-year Kelsey Fritts arrived at Whitman hoping to to keep up her game, but not at the intercollegiate level. Signing up for the Intermediate Tennis course, Fritts found that she could play against people of her own level and continue to challenge herself.

“There were three levels to choose from,” Fritts explained. “People generally chose the right level for them, but even in each class there was a range too.” Fritts wound up meeting her intramural tennis partner in the class, along with great people who made her transition into her first semester of college that much easier.

First-year Britha Cass, who boasts a childhood of ballet, was unsure if the level at which she danced would be offered at Whitman. However, she says that taking Intermediate Ballet as an activity course has opened doors for her.  

Cass’ instructor, Idalee Hutson-Fish, has a private studio in Walla Walla called The Dance Center, and hopes to take a group of Whitman students interested in ballet on a five-week trip to Italy this summer, a prospect that excites Cass.  

Regardless of whether the trip materializes, Cass still feels she has benefited from her ballet class.  

“I like it for the technique because I’m a little rusty on it,” Cass said. “Another really cool part is meeting people.”

Junior Kelsi Evans is taking Beginning Ice Skating this semester, a decision based off of a suggestion from her housemates.  

“We heard there was a performance at the end of the semester and got really excited,” Evans said. “And then I thought it would be fun to try to get a bunch of friends to take it, cause it’s silly but also kind of awesome.”

Evans and a group of friends go once a week to the Ice Chalet in Walla Walla, just a short distance off of campus, to learn how to ice skate. The class is split into two groups based on experience and skill level. Though Evans is in the more advanced group, she says it still feels pretty light-hearted.

“I think it cultivates creativity and there’s something that feels good about working on and mastering new skills,” Evans said. “Ice skating for an hour once a week is just a fun scheduled break.”

As far as impacting students’ fitness level, Fritts and Evans agree that their respective courses aren’t much of a workout, but also said that improving their fitness wasn’t a reason they took the course. The Whitman College course catalog details the purpose of activity classes, saying, “The following courses are designed to provide the student with knowledge, guidance and practice in a wide variety of sport and recreational activities.”

Cass, on the other hand, has found her ballet class to be physically strenuous.

“We start with bar work and by the end of that I’ve already broken a sweat,” Cass said. “It is definitely a workout.”

Despite the range of difficulty of courses, Fritts, Cass and Evans agree that they have had positive experiences with activity courses and plan to take more in the future.

“I think it would be cool to take yoga,” Cass said. “If I could just take every activity credit I would, but then I’d be in college forever.”