Physical Education Curriculum

Wellesley offers physical education credit classes in six activity areas:

For a schedule of 2015-16 PE courses, click here.


Beginning Swimming

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to swim at least 10 yards of freestyle, backstroke, or elementary backstroke. The student will be able to survival float or tread water for 2 minutes, and swim in deep water for at least 5 yards. The student will also be able to perform the breaststroke and butterfly pull and kick for 5 yards. Visit the SWIMMING page.

Take the Leap: Intro to Diving

Introduction to springboard diving will provide students an opportunity to learn movement patterns, skills, techniques, and basic dives from the 1- and 3-meter springboard  in a safe, progressive manner. Students will learn both forward and backward takeoffs and entries into the water, as well as simple trampoline skills, stretches for flexibility, and exercises related to the sport. Students will also learn diving terminology, scoring, and how a diving meet runs. This class will culminate with a diving competition where students will perform their skills in a mock diving meet in a fun, friendly environment.

Basic Sailing

Upon completion of this course, a student will be able to rig and unrig a tech dingy using the proper knots, recognize and define the points of sail, sail a figure-8 course set by the instructor using tacking, and define basic sailing terminology. A student will also demonstrate an understanding of her ability to safely handle weather conditions and be able to set their own course on Lake Waban without the assistance of an instructor. See more about Sailing at Wellesley. Prerequisite: Swim Test*

Beginning Canoe

After taking this course, students will be able to execute basic bow and stern strokes, enabling them to effectively steer and maneuver a tandem and solo canoe. Students will also be able to demonstrate basic safety and rescue maneuvers - including capsize recovery & boat over boat rescue. Prerequisite: Swim test* 

Dorm/Class Crew

Dorm/Class Crew is offered each fall, with six weeks of practice followed by the Dorm Crew Regatta in late October. Students must register online and attend all practices to earn two PE credits. Because the dorm/class crew registration system is separate from PE registration, students are able to enroll in a traditional PE class. Prerequisite: Swim Test*

*To take Basic Sailing, Beginning Canoe, or participate in Dorm/Class Crew, students must pass the swim test, which is offered during recreational swim hours. The test includes: a) jumping into deep water fully clothed and then disrobing; b) treading, floating or survival floating; c) swimming 20 yards; and d) learning the proper use of a life jacket. A student may present a valid Lifeguard Training, or Water Safety Instructor Certificate in place of the swim test. 



Ballet I (Introductory)

This introductory level course, designed for the student who has never before been introduced to the art, offers training in the basic skills of ballet technique. Beginning with barre exercises and progressing to simple steps that move across the center floor, students will practice - to music – the fundamentals. They will learn what brings line to a dancer’s foot and fluidity to a dancer’s arms; they’ll learn to turn and jump with classical form. Upon completion of this course students will have an understanding of what comprises a ballet class and what it takes to execute ballet's most basic movements.

Ballet II (Advanced Beginner)

This advanced beginner course is designed for the dancer who has already been introduced to the basics of ballet and wishes to further develop technique. Akin to stringing beads or speaking simple but fluid sentences in a new language recently learned, steps that were introduced in Ballet I will here be combined into simple but fluid dance combinations. Here is where the absolute beginner becomes facile. Students will move in traditional fashion through barre and center exercises that are carefully crafted to be fun and strengthening yet not too difficult to remember or perform. Music is integral and artistic expression the ultimate aim, but this course focuses on the physical mastery of ballet’s basic movements. Prerequisite: Ballet I or understanding of the fundamentals. Note: Those who have not taken the prerequisite will need to pass a placement evaluation at the first session to determine that they understand the fundamentals of ballet and their level is high enough for this course.

Ballet III (Intermediate Advanced, not offered 2015-16)

This intermediate/advanced level course is designed for the dancer who has fully mastered the basics of ballet and wishes to further develop technique and artistry. At this level much of the discussion/explanation of basic steps drops out and practice of them become rigorous. Combinations at this level become more complex, they are taught relatively quickly, and accompanying tempos are designed to increase difficulty levels. In this course the artist emerges, as execution of steps progresses to performance of them and artistic expression becomes a focus. From pliés to grand allegro, this course keeps a steady (sometimes swift!) pace, allowing the well-trained dancer the opportunity to work out, technically improve, and artistically grow. Prerequisite: Ballet II and full mastery of the fundamentals. Instructor permission is required for this course.

Dance Basics

A student enrolled in this class will learn different techniques and gain technical skills in locomotor movements, turns, falls, and isolations. Basic concepts of sequencing, transition, phrasing, use of space, intention, and theme will underlie technical application. Upon completion of this class, a student will begin to have a sense of her individual quality of movement and what makes her style unique.

Modern Jazz, Dance Level II

Upon completion of this class students will have enhanced their skills and understanding of turns, falls, leaps, and sequences, including Limon’s rise & fall, Graham’s contractions, & floor combinations, and Ailey’s powerful extensions and turns. Students will have an opportunity to learn and use basic choreographic skills, developing their own ‘dance-voice.’ Prerequisite: Dance Basics **This class is for bodies who know how to dance and want to improve and expand their technique through learning longer dances.  An audition will be held in the first class to determine dance level.

African Dance

Dance & music are an integral part of daily life and culture all over Africa. In this course we will explore the richness of West African culture through its music and movement. Students will learn traditional dance movements, songs and history. This course will focus on the correlation between the dance and its corresponding rhythm. Students should wear loose clothing and plan to be barefoot. Women should bring a piece of material to wear around their waists as a wrap-around skirt.

Afro-Brazilian Dance

Brazil was the largest importer of African slaves in all of the Americas. As a result, its music and dance are heavily African-rooted, but also incorporate European and Native American influences. Brazil boasts one of the most elaborate Carnival celebrations in the world that displays a rich variety of dance and music. Upon completion of this course students will be able to recognize and execute a series of steps and choreography from several traditional Afro-Brazilian dances.

Classical Indian Dance

As a result of taking Indian Dance, a student will be able to perform footwork, spins and turns in a rhythmical sequence. Cultural dance equipment, such as ankle bells, add a rhythmical sequence to the dances. Students will also learn how culture influences the storytelling aspects of the dances.




Zumba is a fusion of Latin and international dance stylings combined with fitness elements and movements. By taking this course, students will experience a cardiovascular and total body strength & conditioning workout. Improved endurance, coordination & balance are additional benefits of Zumba. Upon completion, students will have a basic understanding of dance & music sequencing, transitions, and phrasing, and will perform the choreography learned.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Upon completion of this course, a student will increase their cardiovascular capacity while developing a comprehensive understanding of how to design and carry out a personal fitness program.  She will be introduced to variety of workout routines through training modules.  Workouts will be tailored to each student's cardiovascular capacity and will progress from a low intensity workout module to a high impact interval training module.  The class will primarily utilize aerobic equipment including- ellipticals, treadmills, bicycles, and 'stairmasters.'  Weather permitting, the class will go outdoors to engage in cardiovascular based activities that may include team based games.  Spaces used on these days can include our sports fields, track, or walking trails. Finally, most classes will incorporate a social element allowing students to make personal connections with classmates and promote a sense of camaraderie while getting in shape!

Cardio Tennis

Cardio tennis is a high-energy fitness activity that combines the best features of the sport of tennis with cardiovascular exercise, delivering the ultimate full body, calorie burning aerobic exercise. Drills focus on agility and efficiency of high paced movement, using tennis skills as a fun activity. Lively and upbeat music adds to the enjoyment of the class. Prerequisite: This is considered an advanced level tennis class and players are expected to have knowledge of all aspects of the tennis game similar to that gained from a high school team or equivalent. Instructor permission prior to the class or placement evaluation will be determined at the end of the first class.


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to perform exercises that tone the core muscle groups (abdomen, hip and gluteal muscles). Students will also demonstrate their knowledge of muscle conditioning specificity by creating a Pilates routine that encompasses all the major core muscle groups.

Fusion Fitness

Upon completion of this course students will be able to design and execute individualized cardiovascular-core strength fitness programs incorporating pilates core strengthening exercises, meditation and relaxation techniques, and alternative strength training exercises. Students will incorporate a wide variety of current physiological and mind-body principles that will lead to improved core strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and enhanced self-awareness and relaxation.

Strength Training

As a result of taking this class, a student will understand and demonstrate the principles of strength training through the use of Cybex weight machines, free weights, and other training equipment. Each student will increase muscular strength and endurance, and acquire the knowledge to continue her own individualized muscular strength program in the future.

Sports Performance Training

This course is designed to provide students with the fundamental knowledge and skills involved in resistance training. Students will learn the proper technique of various forms of functional resistance training including: free weights, resistance bands, physioballs and body weight exercises. Students will also learn how to properly warm up and cool down through dynamic and passive movements. Students will follow a periodized resistance program throughout the semester aimed at making gains in strength and power. At the completion of this course, students will be able to create a personalized resistance training routine.

Boot Camp Fitness

This course will help students get into shape, reduce stress, increase energy, and build confidence. In Boot Camp Fitness students will learn how to properly warm up and cool down, exercise at high intensity using calisthenics, strength workouts, dumbbells, medicine balls, agility ladders, obstacle courses and much more. Upon completion of Boot Camp Fitness, students will be able to design and execute their own fun and challenging fitness programs.

Beginning Spinning

This class will benefit a wide range of abilities and fitness goals. You will learn bike setup and safety, heart rate monitoring, and techniques to enhance the mind/body connection. The class will offer energizing, cycling-inspired rides that combine sound training principles, inspirational music, and a unique mind/body philosophy. We will exercise at moderate to high intensity levels using the spinning bikes, while incorporating the six different spinning movements. Upon completion of this course students will be able to design and execute their own individualized spin program. This course will help you get into shape, reduce stress, increase energy, and build confidence.

Couch to 5K

Students will increase their aerobic capacity and learn about various training strategies and the impact of physical conditioning on the body while training to run a 5k. Each class will progress through a variety of distances, time intervals, and  levels of exertion, along with learning the physiological rationale for such progressions. Various training techniques, including interval training and cross training (e.g., bike, elliptical, etc.), will be used throughout the course.  Each class meeting will include a dynamic warm-up and cool down. The eventual goal is for the student to be able to continuously run for 30+ minutes. Students will also be given a journal to track individual goals and progress throughout the semester.

Barre Fitness

Barre is a full body workout that incorporates body weight strength, pilates and ballet exercises.  The workout is an hour long and set to fun and high-energy music.  The exercises are designed to exhaust your muscle groups then stretch targeted areas for toned results.  Over the course of the semester we will deconstruct a Barre workout to teach students proper form, mind and body awareness and build strength. Upon completion, students will have the strength and endurance to complete an entire 60 minute Barre class. 

Intro to Triathlon Training

Introduction to Triathlon Training introduces the three disciples of swimming, biking, and running, while intergrading key functional training components to improve overall power, strength, and endurance. Students will receive a well-balanced training regimen accompanied by technique instruction on swimming, biking and running. Upon completion, students will have a heightened understanding of the physiological and psychological demands required to compete in their first triathlon or improve on their current skill set. 
Prerequiste: A base level of swimming skill is required for successful participation in this course. Participants can demonstrate this in several ways: have taken PE Elementary Swim, can show a Lifeguard Certification, some form of swim lesson card or demonstrate skills to the instructor. Participant must be able to swim 200yds (8 lengths) without stopping and will be tested on the first day of class in order to fully participate. Students are encouraged to practice this skill during open recreation hours prior to the start of the class


Martial Arts

Kung Fu

A student enrolled in Kung Fu will be able to develop physical stamina, coordination and mental discipline. The course focuses on sequences called forms that are dynamically executed.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is the ancient Chinese art of meditation achieved through low-impact movements and postures. Weaponry (sabre) is an important aspect of this training and will be included in the course. By learning postures from the Wu Chien-Chuan competition form and the fundamentals of the tai chi saber, students will achieve proper spinal alignment and muscle relaxation.

Self Defense

Upon completion of this practical self-defense course, students will learn basic avoidance tactics, awareness skills and physical self-defense maneuvers. The student will be able to demonstrate effective escape skills, verbal responses, and offensive counter attacks (including elbow strikes, heel/palm hits, kicks and fighting from the ground). Safety equipment will be used in class, and physical contact is a part of every session.




Upon completion of the course, a student will be able to execute the fundamental steps of target shooting and attain an intermediate level of skill. Videotaping will help students analyze their errors to improve overall shooting. Students will have the opportunity to test their archery skills and sights in a variety of archery games, such as tic tac toe, dartboard, and balloon shoot. Students will shoot from 15, 20, and 25 yards.

Beginning Badminton

Upon completion of the class, a student will be able to perform the basic strokes, including serves, clears, drop shots, drives and smashes. The student will have an understanding of the rules and positional strategy necessary to score and participate in a match.


At the end of this course, a student will be familiar with fencing history, rules, equipment and basic skills, including advance, retreat, attack and defense, with an emphasis on correct execution of these fundamental skills. Students will also learn bouting strategies and scoring. Opportunity for electric foil fencing will be included.

Term Golf

After taking this class, the student will be able to execute the basic golf strokes, including full swing, pitching, chipping and putting. The student will have an understanding of the rules in order to engage in course play. (Equipment provided.)

Semester Golf (not offered 2015-16)

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to execute basic golf strokes like putting, chipping, pitching and full swing, as well as trouble shots like hitting from the sand or rough. Students will be able to describe the laws of golf ball flight and relate them to their own swings, and detect and correct basic errors through the use of videotaping. After working on the basic skills in the Fieldhouse for the first part of the semester, students will demonstrate their knowledge and skills in this lifetime activity by playing holes on our 9-hole golf course. (Equipment provided.)

Horseback Riding

The horseback riding program is conducted at the Dana Hall Riding School, a 15 minute walk from campus. The Riding Center at Dana Hall offers instruction for all levels, from beginner to advanced. Students are responsible for transportation, a non-refundable registration fee (approximately $600), and any required riding attire. To register, phone 781.237.0728.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding (UPDATED, 10/26/2015)

The downhill ski and snowboarding program is conducted at Nashoba Valley Ski Area, a 45-minute ride from the College. The Nashoba Valley Ski School provides lessons at all levels, from beginning to expert.

  • Attire:  Ski pants/warm slacks, ski parka, warm mittens/ gloves, heavy socks, warm hat. Equipment rental available.  Helmets are available for purchase at the Equipment Fitting or at the rental shop at Nashoba Valley.
  • PE Credit:  Students must attend at least four lessons to earn credit. If weather conditions reduce the number of trips to Nashoba, students might not be eligible to receive credit.
  • REGISTER ONLINE DEC 1 TO DEC 12. (not via MyWellesley)
  • Ski/Snowboard dates: Jan 27, Feb 3, Feb 10, Feb 17, Feb 24
  • Depart Wellesley, 5pm; Lesson Time, 7:30pm; Arrive Wellesley, 11pm
  • Fees: 
    • Lessons and Lift Tickets: $210 (includes transportation)
    • Lift Ticket Only: $170  (includes transportation)
    • Rental Equipment: $100
    • Helmet Rental: $45
    • Helmet Purchase: $60
  • Fees for tickets, lessons, and rentals are due Monday, Dec 14, CHECK ONLY, payable to Nashoba Valley. Please drop off checks at the front desk in the Sports Center.
  • Questions? Contact Monica Verity.

Rock Climbing

Upon the completion of this course students will have a basic knowledge of belayer/climber communication, rock climbing terms, knots, and movement on rock. Students will focus on personal goal setting and intrinsic motivation in the sport of rock climbing. This is an introductory course and no previous rock climbing experience is needed.

Elementary Squash

After taking this class, the student will be able to execute the basic squash swing and shots including the drive, crosscourt, volleys, serve, boast and drop shots. The student will have an understanding of the rules to engage in game play and knowledge of basic strategies. After this course, students will be able to take their skills with them and continue to participate in this growing sport. (Equipment provided.)

Table Tennis

Students will be able to execute the basic skills of forehand, backhand, lob, smash, loop, service and footwork. They will also acquire an understanding of game rules and tactics used in a match, and display their skills in a mini-tournament at the end of the term.

Elementary Tennis

As a result of taking this class, students will be able to execute the basic shots of tennis, including forehand and backhand ground strokes, volleys, and serves. Students will become familiar with fundamental concepts related to each of the basic strokes including correct grips, footwork, and contact points, and will learn how to play points and games. Upon completion of this class, students will be able to take part in a friendly match using official rules and scoring, and appropriate terminology and etiquette.

Intermediate Tennis

As a result of participation in Intermediate Tennis, students will improve the consistency of their basic tennis skills including the groundstrokes, volley and serves. With emphasis on footwork, positioning, and ball placement, students will be able to execute strategies for singles and doubles play. Students will also become familiar with the use of varied grips and spins, as well as specialty shots such as the overhead, lob and dropshot. Students will be able to implement their developing skills and strategies into match play.


This class is designed for students of every ability level interested in improving their volleyball skills. By the end of the class, students will be able to pass, set, dig, serve, and attack. Students will also have a basic knowledge of offensive and defensive strategies. Principles of physical fitness including proper warm-up/cool down, cardiovascular and strength training, and stretching will also be addressed.



ATTIRE: Non-restrictive, comfortable clothing (ex: leotards, shorts and t-shirt). No jeans or bulky tops. Barefeet a must. Yoga is a system of physical and mental exercises designed to balance and unite the mind, body and spirit.

As a result of taking Hatha or Iyengar yoga, students will strengthen and tone muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce stress through relaxation techniques.

Students may earn credit for Beginning Yoga only once, regardless of style.

Beginning Yoga: Hatha Style

Hatha Yoga focuses on the integration of the breath and mindfulness with postures or asanas. The postures may be linked in a flowing manner or may be held for several breaths. Upon completion of the class, a student will be able to execute many postures and breathing techniques that work together with alignment, clarity of mind and relaxation. Increased student awareness of their physical strengths and challenges will be identified to achieve improved balance, stability, flexibility, strength and focus.

Beginning Yoga: Iyengar Style

Iyengar Yoga is a rigorous approach to yoga postures (asanas) based on the work of B.K.S. Iyengar. The classes focus on active poses that are sustained and balanced with a brief restorative pose. As a result of taking this class, students will have increased awareness of the physical aspects of yoga practice-agility, strength, and balance. Postures for relaxation and stress release will also be covered.

Continuing Yoga

Students in this Iyengar style class will perform intermediate yoga postures, including inverted poses, arm balances and back bends. Prerequisite: Beginning Yoga or previous Yoga experience and permission of the instructor.