Journey through SJSU History: Dr. Reekie’s Recent Book Documents the History of Kinesiology at SJSU

Our department chair, Dr. Shirley Reekie, recently published a labor of love: Bean Bags to Bod Pods: A History of 150  Years of San José State University’s Department of Kinesiology.

The book is a chronicle of the 150 year history of physical activity, physical education, and Kinesiology  Department at San Jose State University, believed to be the first public system of physical education (kinesiology) in  higher education in the West. The release of this book could not have had better timing as the Department of  Kinesiology celebrates its 150th birthday this semester.

The book was written to inform SJSU students, faculty, alumni, and friends about the rich heritage of SJSU and to  celebrate the growth of the KIN department. By locating the narrative in the context of the major social and political  movements of the times, Dr. Reekie provides a glimpse into U.S. history observed through the lens of physical  activity and its study. As a majority of the students in the early years were women, this history devotes significant  time to women and their important contributions to the institution.

“Bean bags I know. What are Bod Pods?”

Bean bags were a staple piece of low tech, inexpensive equipment used by most early physical educators and, similar  to many good ideas, are still in use today, particularly by elementary educators to teach catching and throwing  patterns. Bod Pods are modern, high tech devices used by researchers to determine the body composition (percent  fat and lean) of a participant by means of a highly accurate measurement of body volume in a sealed chamber. These  two pieces of technology are examples of the dynamic changes that have taken place in our subject area.

Although the book narrative is centered on the story of San José State, it also provides a window to better understand the growth of physical education across the past two centuries.

Copies of the book can be purchase on or in the Kinesiology Office (SPX 56, 9am – 4pm., M-F). Join us  on a journey through higher education in the US, and share in the amazing story of how physical education and  activity have helped shape SJSU.