Skip Navigation
A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the spring 2021 semester.
Current Operating Mode: BLUE

Exercise & Sport Studies

Smith College patrons exercise inside Olin Gym

The Department of Exercise & Sport Studies (ESS) is committed to improving the quality of life at Smith College by providing an array of classes that allow for the exploration and better understanding of the importance of exercise and physical activity in our daily lives. The department has three areas of concentration: performance courses, the minor in exercise and sport studies, and a master of science in exercise & sport studies.


The Department of Exercise and Sport Studies minor provides students with a comprehensive introduction to exercise and sport studies. This course of study is useful for students with an interest in exercise and sport and for those considering graduate study or a career in exercise science; community, worksite or other fitness programs; and the health sciences, such as physical therapy and medicine. Students interested in coaching  may receive certification.

Requirements: The minor in exercise and sport studies requires 24 credits, with courses chosen in consultation with an adviser. These courses usually include at least one introductory course and must include at least five 4-credit courses. Up to 4 credits of 1- and 2-credit courses may be counted toward the minor, with permission of the adviser.  One course from another department or program may be included provided that course is related to a student's particular interest in exercise and sport studies and is chosen in consultation with the adviser.

Areas of Emphasis and Course Requirements
 Students may wish to follow one of the following specific areas of emphasis:

Coaching/Education: 100, 107, 110, 315, 220, 225, 240, 275 and EDC 336
Exercise Science: 100, 107, 210, 315, 220, 250, 275 and 400
Health: ESS 100, 107, 130, 140, 250, 275, 340 and IDP 208
Sociocultural Perspectives: ESS 100, 130, 140, 200, 315, 220, 225, 230, 240, 340

Members of the Department: Barbara Brehm-Curtis, Lynn Oberbillig, Sarah Witkowski, Stephanie Jones, Brittany Masteller, and Erica Tibbetts

A maximum of four performance course credits may be counted toward the minor.

Course selection for the minor must be approved by a faculty adviser.

Please consult the Smith College Course Catalog for current offerings.


Performance courses are offered for credit in a wide variety of activities. Each class is designed to enhance the student’s physical skills, fitness, knowledge of human movement and understanding of the role of physical activity in a healthy lifestyle. Each course encompasses a combination of instruction in techniques, readings, lectures and discussion. In general, each section involves an average of two scheduled hours per week plus an hour of work outside of class each week. Students may count no more than four performance course credits toward the degree. Courses with multiple sections may be repeated for credit, but individual course sections may not be repeated for credit.


  • Beginning Swimming
  • Advanced Beginning/Intermediate Swimming
  • Springboard Diving
  • Swim Conditioning
  • Lifeguard Training (2 credits)

Conditioning & Fitness

  • Aerobics
  • Kickboxing
  • Self-Paced Fitness
  • Physical Conditioning
  • Weight Training
  • Ultimate Frisbee


  • Pilates Mat Training
  • Self Defense
  • Kung Fu
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Ba Gua Zhang

Outdoor Skills

  • Introduction to Wilderness Skills
  • Flatwater Canoeing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Sculling
  • Whitewater Canoeing
  • Whitewater Kayaking
  • Outdoor Adventure Sampler
  • Fly Fishing
  • Archery

Racquet Sports

  • Squash
  • Tennis
  • Badminton
  • British Racketball
  • Pickle Ball

Other Sports

  • Fencing
  • Golf

Please check the course catalog for up-to-date information. You can also see the Five College course schedule.

ESS 100 Playing the Game: Introduction to Exercise and Sport Studies 
A beginning survey course of the disciplines that address physical activity and sport. The course takes into account the general effects of physical activity and how one studies and analyzes these experiences. Course content includes an examination of behavioral, sociocultural, and biophysical experiences and professional possibilities. Open to first years and sophomores. Credits: 4 
Clare Elizabeth Gardner Doyle, Zack Thomas Kundel 
Normally offered each fall 

ESS 107 Emergency Care 

The goal of this course is to teach emergency medical care that enables the student to (a) recognize symptoms of illness and injuries; (b) implement proper procedures; (c) administer appropriate care; (d) achieve and maintain proficiency in all caregiving skills; (e) be responsible and behave in a professional manner; and (f) become certified in Community First Aid/AED and CPR for the Professional Rescuer. Credits: 2 
Craig Collins 
Normally offered both fall and spring semesters 

ESS 110 Introduction to Sports Coaching 

This course introduces students to the principles of coaching that are applicable to all sports. Content includes the following areas of sport science: pedagogy, leadership, psychology, biomechanics, physiology, growth and development and areas of health and wellness related to the well-being of athletes. Enrollment limited to 20. {S} Credits: 4 
Jaime L. Ginsberg, Adriane Elizabeth Meyer Krul 
Normally offered each spring 

ESS 130 Stress Management: Practice and Resilience 

The physical and psychological components of stress, identification of personal stress response patterns and techniques for daily stress management. Enrollment limited to 20.Credits: 2 
Barbara Brehm-Curtis, Jaime L. Ginsberg, Erin Catherine Miller, Ellen M. O'Neil 
Normally offered both fall and spring semesters 

ESS 140 Health Behavior 

The influence of behavior on health and well-being. Students examine the way in which factors such as nutrition and dietary habits, stress perception and response, and physical activity interact with the physiological processes of health, disease and aging.  Enrollment limited to 40. Credits: 4 
Elizabeth Jaggard Barnett 
Normally offered each academic year 

ESS 175 Applied Exercise Science 

An experiential course designed to introduce students to applied exercise physiology and kinesiology. Such subjects as energy expenditure, energy systems, aerobic power, effort perception, applied anatomy and training principles are studied using a system of lecture and laboratory sessions. Enrollment limited to 20. Credits: 2 
Emily Morgan Lopez 
Normally offered each interterm 

ESS 200 Sport: In Search of the American Dream 

This course will help students explore the way that sport overlaps with and directly influences many aspects of the "American Dream" such as politics, economics, and racial and gender based (in)-equality.  Students will investigate historical and current trends in sport and have the opportunity to examine individuals who had an impact on sport and American society.  Enrollment limit of 30. {H} {S} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ESS 210 Kinesiology 

Study of the anatomical and biophysical (e.g. biomechanics, motor control & learning, and skeletal muscle structure) aspects of human movement.  Topics include how movement is produced by bones, joints, muscles, and the nervous system; and factors that moderate movement such as resistance, body position, inertia, and motor control.  This course is of interest to students interested in physical conditioning, and athletics and coaching. {N} Credits: 4 
Karen Lynn Riska 
Normally offered each spring 

ESS 215 Physiology of Exercise 

Exercise, sport and outdoor activities all require energy. The study of these energetic events is the basis of this course. We study how the body adapts to repeated bouts of physical activity and how the body can perform a single event. This course is highly applied. Short lectures accompanied by relevant laboratory experiences. Prerequisite: BIO 150 or permission of the instructor. This course also counts toward the major in biological sciences. Enrollment limited to 20. {N} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ESS 220 Psychology of Sport 

This is an introductory course designed to provide information and facilitate understanding in regard to the mental processes that promote peak performance and experience. Topics include imagery, self-talk, competition, motivation, team cohesion, peak performance, anxiety, attention and confidence. Cultural differences and  creating inclusive and accessble sport spaces will also be discussed.  PSY 100 is recommended but is not a prerequisite.{S} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ESS 230 Body Images and Sport Media 

An exploration of sporting images as projected through the media. Primary emphasis is on print and electronic journalism, including written narratives, photography, television, film and digital images. The course examines the (re)presentation and (re)production of the athletic or healthy body as the standard for fitness. The topic includes issues on embodiment, cultural symbolism, political and moral ideologies and commercialization. {S} Credits: 4 
Erica S. Tibbetts 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ESS 240 Exercise and Sport for Social Change 

This class is designed for students who wish to understand more about the role sport and exercise can play in relation to social justice and civil rights movements, the way that current inequities influence who is able to participate in various types of sport/exercise, and methods for addressing these inequalities and injustices. Students will have the chance to learn about social justice and social change as they relate to the following topics: athlete activism, coaching, administration, participation, fairness, and non-profit community based and governmental level interventions. Enrollment limit of 20. {S} Credits: 4 
Erica S. Tibbetts 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ESS 250 Nutrition and Health 

An introduction to the science of human nutrition. Topics include absorption and transportation of nutrients in the body, and the way nutrients are used to support growth and development and maintain health. We also examine how personal dietary choices affect nutritive quality of the diet and the health of an individual. The relationship between diet and health is explored throughout the course. Special topics include diet and physical fitness, weight control, vegetarianism and women’s nutrition concerns. High school chemistry recommended but not required. Credits: 4 
Barbara Brehm-Curtis, Brooke Alexis Marshall 
Normally offered each academic year 

ESS 280 Applied Sports Medicine 

Healthy participation in sport activities can occur throughout life. Injuries due to involvement in sport can result in untold expense, discomfort and possible lifelong problems. The etiology and prevention of injury are discussed. The anatomic and clinical features of specific injuries are analyzed. Exercise as medicine is also discussed.  Lecture and discussion are supported by applied laboratory exercises. Enrollment limited to 20.{S} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ESS 300 Topics in Exercise Sport Studies 

Topics course. Enrollment limit of 12. 

Physical Activity & Health 
A seminar focusing on the relationship between physical activity and health.  Physical activity can be used as a strategy to prevent and treat chronic disease.  In this seminar, we will explore the evidence underlying the relationship between physical activity and health in a variety of populations. Major topics include physical activity and sedentary behavior epidemiology, measurement and study design, chronic disease etiology, and health disparities.  Emphasis is placed on critical evaluation of seminal and current research in the field. Enrollment limit of 14. Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

ESS 340 Women’s Health: Current Topics 

A seminar focusing on current research papers in women’s health. Recent topics have included reproductive health issues, eating disorders, heart disease, depression, autoimmune disorders and breast cancer. Prerequisites: 140 or a strong biological sciences background, and permission of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. This course may not be taken for the S/U grading option. Enrollment limited to 14. {N} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered each academic year 

ESS 400 Special Studies 

Credits: 1-4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered each academic year 

IDP 208 Women’s Medical Issues 

A study of topics and issues relating to women’s health, including menstrual cycle, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, abortion, mental health, nutrition, osteoporosis, the media’s representation of women and gender bias in health care. Social, cultural, ethical and political issues are considered, as well as an international perspective.{N} Credits: 4 
Leslie Richard Jaffe 
Normally offered each spring


Emeriti Faculty

Jim Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Exercise & Sport Studies

Caryl Newhof, Professor Emerita of Exercise & Sport Studies

Chris Shelton, Professor Emerita of Exercise & Sport Studies

Don Siegel, Professor Emeritus of Exercise & Sport Studies


Meaghan Abelein, Diving

Jeanette Boudway, Soccer, Seminar in Sport Leadership for Coaches

Clare Doyle, Introduction to Exercise & Sport Studies

Stefanie Frazee, Outdoor Adventure, Outdoor Leadership
Email | Bio

Jaime Ginsberg, Stress Management, Introduction to Sports Coaching
Email | Bio

Lynn Hersey, Recruiting
Email | Bio

Scott Johnson, Outdoor Skills
Email | Bio

Zachary Kundel, Golf, Introduction to Exercise and Sport Studies

Caitlyn Lawrence, Exercise Design

Emily Lopez, Applied Exercise Science
Email | Bio

Katie Moore, Yoga
Email | Bio

Jennifer MacAulay, Collegiate Recruiting 

Ellen O’Neil, Stress Management: Practice and Resilience

Rosalie Peri, Pilates

Arden Sundari Pierce, Yoga

Danielle Rao, Rock Climbing

Adrien Ricci, Track & Field

Kelli Steele, Sport Medicine
Email | Bio

Ian (Jake) Turner, Fundamentals of Conditioning
Email | Bio

Employee Fitness Program

The ESS Fitness Program is open to all Smith College employees and their immediate families on a first-come, first-served basis. Class size is limited. Classes are generally all levels, unless otherwise noted. Classes will not be held when the campus or facilities are closed; we only offer one make-up class.

Classes are NOT held when facilities are closed (inclement weather).

The Department of Exercise & Sport Studies will only make up 1 class per semester.

Harvard Pilgrim Fitness Reimbursement

Participation in any two sessions (fall, summer, spring) in a calendar year may qualify for to earn $150 through Harvard Pilgrim's Fitness Reimbursement Program. More instructions may be found on the Harvard Pilgrim website.

Register for Classes and Sign Waiver Form Online

Employees are notified about current fitness programs via email and eDigest. Please contact the ESS department with questions. All participants must have a waiver on record which they can now submit online. No one is allowed to participate in any activity without completing and submitting this form.


Smith Pioneers

Smith women have always been active athletes. Physical training was part of the Smith curriculum even during the college’s early years, when less progressive institutions still believed that strenuous physical activity harmed women’s health. It’s not surprising that the first collegiate women’s basketball game took place here in 1893, or that Smith was the first women’s college to join the NCAA.

At the intercollegiate level, Smith offers the serious athlete 11 varsity teams and some of the nation’s finest athletic facilities available to undergraduate women. Smith is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).

Intercollegiate Sports

More Information

For more information about athletics at Smith, visit the Smith Pioneers website.

Human Performance Lab

Located on the fourth floor of the Scott Building, the Human Performance Lab (HPL) is a space for teaching and research, and home to graduate offices, faculty research and labs.

Teaching Lab

The teaching lab houses many resources to give students hands-on experiences in exercise science, including metabolic testing, functional performance and health monitoring. The equipment includes a VacuMed metabolic cart, treadmill, Monark cycle ergometers, body composition assessment tools, blood pressure and heartrate monitoring tools, a Polar Team2 system, iWorx Data Acquisition and Analysis systems, anatomical models and an exam bed.

Sample Processing Lab

Adjacent to the HPL is a sample processing lab, which is approved to accommodate and process human samples (i.e. blood, saliva, urine). The space includes instrumentation for lactate and glucose analysis and is supplied with a sink and emergency eyewash station.

Vascular Function Research Lab

The vascular function laboratory is a quiet, temperature-controlled space with exam bed, sink and eyewash station. In this space, noninvasive tests are performed for endothelial function via ultrasound and Doppler, and arterial stiffness via pulse wave velocity. The space has a Terason uSmart 3300 ultrasound imaging system with 15L4A Linear Array Transducer. It also houses a Hokanson E20 Rapid Cuff Inflator, a 27-inch iMac computer with FMD Studio software, patient monitor for blood pressure, and EKG necessary for vascular function testing. The laboratory has the SphygmoCor XCEL Pulse wave analysis (PWA) and Pulse wave velocity (PWV) system to measure and analyze arterial stiffness outcomes with the SphygmoCor XCEL Software suite.

Research Testing Lab

The research testing lab is a space to perform physical testing on research participants. The space has the capacity for submaximal and maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing on a treadmill or cycle ergometer, muscle strength and endurance assessments via the Biodex Isokinetic Dynamometer and Lafayette Jackson Strength Evaluation System. We can analyze muscle function and its relationship to electroencephalography (EEG) via Emotiv Epoc Systems.

Abigail Edwards '20

Through Smith’s Summer Research Fellowship Program (SURF), Abigail Edwards ’20 is studying heart disease risk in women of color by testing for signs of arterial stiffness. Pictured here, Edwards demonstrates a pulse wave velocity test on her summer research adviser, Associate Professor of Exercise & Sport Studies Sarah Witkowski.

Read the article in the Gate →

Smith Outdoor Adventure Program

The Outdoor Adventure program at Smith organizes fun outdoor trips throughout the school year. While some of our trips can be more challenging, most of them require no experience and are usually free.

More Information

For more information about the Outdoor Adventure program, please contact Scott Johnson.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ESS?
Exercise and Sport Studies provides courses that probe the importance of physical activity and exercise in our daily lives. ESS has foundational courses that are typically 4 credits in health and wellness, the physiology and physics of human movement, and sport psychology and sociology.

What are performance courses?
In addition to our theory courses, ESS has courses that are typically 1 credit and are designed to enhance the student’s physical skills, fitness, knowledge of human movement and understanding of the role of physical activity in a healthy lifestyle. These classes include outdoor classes (e.g. rock climbing, archery), fitness classes (e.g. yoga, strength training), and sports classes (e.g. tennis, swimming, golf).

What is the workload for a one-credit performance course?
The one-credit performance courses require about 3 hours of engaged time per week. Most students take these courses in addition to their 4 academic courses. Typically, 2 hours are spent in class, with another hour of practice/reading/homework per week outside of class.

What courses does ESS offer for students interested in the health professions?
For students interested in the health professions, we offer Emergency Care, Health Behavior, Kinesiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, Women’s Health, Physical Activity and Health. 

Does ESS offer research experiences?
Yes, Dr. Jones, Dr. Witkowski, and Dr. Tibbetts engage students in research in their laboratories. Dr. Jones’s work focuses on movement patterns and injury as well as neuromuscular dysfunction and balance. Dr. Witkowski’s lab focuses on female-specific conditions that influence cardiovascular disease risk. Dr. Tibbetts’s research focuses on sport psychology and using sport to create positive social change.  The ESS faculty page has more information on their work. We suggest contacting the faculty member directly if you are interested in learning more about their research and how you can get involved.

What if a student wishes to major in ESS?
ESS is a minor course of study. However, students have completed student-designed interdepartmental majors that combine ESS with other areas of study. Examples include, ESS and biochemistry and ESS and Africana Studies. These require an academic plan with 40–48 credits in related courses in two or more departments or programs, at least one of which offers a major. You should identify two advisors, one from each department, fill out an application, make an academic plan, and contact the senior class dean. Applications are reviewed by the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs (SHIP).

More information on the class deans website.

How will performance courses operate during the Fall 2020 semester while we are online?
This fall ESS is hosting courses to promote health and physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Performance courses will include online class meetings, individual exercise time, individual and group projects, readings and videos on course subject content. Many will focus on troubleshooting the difficulties in staying active in this difficult time and promoting sustainable behaviors. This semester we are offering yoga, pilates, self-paced fitness, the running workshop, and weight training.

Where can I see current course offerings in ESS for the semester?
The best place to find the course we are offering is the course schedule. Search using the current academic term and ESS department.

What is the minor in ESS?
This course of study is useful for students with an interest in exercise and sport and for those considering graduate study or a career in exercise science; community, worksite or other fitness programs; and the health sciences, such as physical therapy and medicine. 

What are the requirements of the ESS minor?
The minor in exercise and sport studies requires 24 credits, with courses chosen in consultation with an adviser from ESS. These courses usually include at least one introductory course and must include at least five 4-credit courses. Up to 4 credits of 1- and 2-credit courses may be counted toward the minor, with permission of the adviser. One course from another department or program may be included provided that course is related to a student's particular interest in exercise and sport studies and is chosen in consultation with the adviser. 

Where can I find more information on the course requirements for the minor?
Information about requirements for the minor can be found on this webpage under the "Requirements" heading.

Where can I find more information on the ESS Faculty?
Information about requirements for the minor can be found on this webpage under the "Faculty" heading.

I just want to exercise. Are there any non-credit exercise classes available?
You are welcome to participate in any GetFit Smith class, offered by the Athletic Department, for free with your OneCard.

GetFit Schedule

Club Sports

Can I use ESS or athletics’ equipment for my personal use? (ex. Yoga blocks, track hurdles)
No, these are for class or athletic team use only.


Department of Exercise & Sport Studies

Ainsworth/Scott Gym
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3970
Fax: 413-585-2394

Administrative Assistant:
Alexis Pothul