What will Wellesley students do for a free t-shirt? Exercise, apparently. Obtaining a free t-shirt is one of the many benefits of completing Wellesley’s mandatory physical education credit during one’s first year.
Ever since 2012, PERA has been making a big push for early PE completion. Their strategies include offering 10-12 “fitness breaks” during orientation week taught by PERA faculty members and featuring several activities, such as Zumba and Pilates – both of which are also taught as semester-long PE classes. The physical education department also began offering free “PE Complete” t-shirts to students who earn all eight required PE credits within their first year. Since starting the free t-shirt initiative, the percentage of students per graduating class completing their PE requirement as first years has doubled from 12 percent to an average of 25 percent.
Last semester, 72 percent of the class of 2019 earned some PE credit – a considerable increase from before 2012, when the number of first semester first years earning PE credit was around 50 percent.
The impact of early PE participation and completion has impacts that reach far beyond students’ first two semesters at Wellesley. Students who finish their PE requirement early are much more likely to continue to participate in PE classes and recreation programs than students who finish the requirement later in their Wellesley career (over 40 percent as opposed to 10-15 percent.) “We also believe that early participation in PE classes makes students more comfortable with physical activity and more comfortable in the sports center and its staff,” said Tom Wilson, Physical Education Registrar. “This doesn’t necessarily mean that finishing PE during the first year ‘causes’ increased physical activity later on,” he adds, “but there is a correlation.”
The PE department offers a wide range of courses from Beginning Yoga to Rock Climbing to Couch to 5k. No matter your fitness level or desire to sweat throughout the day, there is sure to be a class to meet your fitness goals and satisfy your PE requirement.
Like registration for regular classes, spots for certain PE classes fill up very quickly and it can be hard to get a spot in the class you had your heart set on. But do not let that deter you from trying a different PE class. If you are planning on trying again for your first choice next semester, here is some advice: evening sections of classes tend to fill up faster than morning ones, so if you prefer to exercise late, you will want to sign up early. And the most popular class? Rock Climbing, according to Wilson, consistently fills up in minutes, if not seconds.