“How do you teach Physical Fitness online?”
That was the question Hostos adjunct assistant professor of physical education Elizabeth Cahn had to answer in the wake of Covid-19.
After “hours upon hours” of thought and assessment, Cahn found that a mixture of video presentations and conference meetings worked surprisingly well. Some of the videos featured her; others drew on TED talks and a variety of physical education and nutrition-related sources. The video conferences allowed her to monitor her students’ progress as they perfected their exercise routines.
Her goal, Cahn said, “was not to create bodybuilders but to help my students build a track for a healthy life.” Being physically active and avoiding obesity and diabetes were the results she was looking for. The secret of success is pleasure: “The best exercise is something you love doing.”
Despite distance learning and through a holistic approach, Cahn found that students discovered how to be active without the pressure of feeling like they were in a competition. She emphasized that the focus, “was more about learning about themselves and how little adjustments can make a big difference in their lives.”
Cahn has plenty of experience to draw on; she holds a master’s degree in Dance from NYU, a bachelor of arts in Theater with a dance concentration and English Literature from Smith College and is currently working towards K-12 dance certification through Hunter College Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program (expected 2021). Cahn also spent a decade as part of the highly regarded Nancy Meehan Dance Company. For the past nine years she has taught Physical Education and stress management at Bronx Community College.
Earlier in the year, prior to the shelter in place mandate, Cahn submitted a paper to the National Dance Educators Organization, “Fighting Anti-Semitism through Dance,” and chosen for presentation which looks at ways in which movement can aid in transcending stereotypes and foster empathy and community.
Because of the pandemic, the annual National Dance Educators Organization’s conference, which convenes Dance educators from across the nation, will take place instead via the internet to participate in workshops, master classes, panel and paper presentations, and performances.
The conference was originally scheduled to take place in Denver, Colorado. Cahn looked on the bright side of things and pointed out: “More people may be able to attend virtually.”