About 50 SUNY Cortland students from two physical education courses took to YouTube recently with a music video parody to promote awareness for First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity.
The clip, which features Assistant Professor Stephen Yang’s students, is a response to Beyonce’s "Move Your Body,” a workout video re-written with new words to her hit song "Get Me Bodied." The Grammy award-winning singer released the tune earlier this month to encourage dance exercise among children as part of the First Lady’s effort.
Yang saw an opportunity to teach his students, mostly aspiring physical education teachers, in a memorable way. Students performed a choreographed routine similar to Beyonce’s, with old dance moves like the Running Man and new ones like the Dougie.
“We can’t just talk about current issues,” Yang said. “We’ve got to give students opportunities to create social moments.”
Yang’s students banded together to form a group dubbed the P.E. Rockstars. All of his students are required to maintain their own blogs related to physical education. Yang has even created an all-inclusive blog of relevant course material.
J. Trenton Jones, a junior from Clifton Springs, N.Y. and a physical education major, volunteered to edit the raw video footage, which was shot from four cameras.
“Dr. Yang gives you the tools and he allows you to teach yourself,” said Jones, who knew little about video editing before Yang’s class. “He puts you in a situation and you have to work through it.”
The production of a music video made sense, given the relevance of the First Lady’s fitness campaign and the fact that May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
“This was a great way to move and get people doing cardio,” Jones said. “Dancing is lifelong fitness activity and that’s pretty much where physical education is heading – lifelong fitness.”
Yang said he would like physical education students to create exercise-encouraging music videos every year. SUNY Cortland’s Department of Physical Education is one of the largest and most respected in the United States, attracting about 800 students every year.
“Obviously, we’re not professional dancers,” Yang said. “But this is a baby step towards a much larger goal: to create agents of change.”