Read an interesting article this week on Shine.com about research indicating high school gym class may make people so uncomfortable, it turns them off of exercising for life. Have you ever read something and instantly resonated with the conclusion, nodding your head at every sentence? That was SO me, when I read this article!
It didn’t take high school gym class to ruin it for me either – the deed was done in seventh grade. We moved from New York to Alabama and missed the start of school by two weeks. When my Dad took me to sign up for classes, I confidently selected chorus, only to be informed chorus was all full and I’d have to do girls’ PE. In Alabama, in the heat and humidity. At the time anyway, if you were in Chorus you never had to take PE. I was so jealous of my girl friends who escaped the dreaded Fate that caught me. They got to sing all these cool songs in dorky matching dresses and give concerts all over Northern Alabama, thus missing a lot of classtime. I had to dress out, get hot and sweaty and embarrassed daily and still get to the next class on time.
I also envied Carl F who fell out of his chair with appendicitis one day in fifth period English and missed six weeks of school but that’s another story…..
First of all, in Girls PE, we had hideous green shorts and white shirts which had to have your name and the school’s name embroidered by your mother. Already I’m failing because my mother couldn’t embroider and neither could I. This was not a skill either of us had ever felt necessary to learn. After a week of demerits and much scorn heaped on me, my mother finally found a neighbor who consented to do the needlework and saved me.
(And in eighth grade they allowed us to stamp our names on the clothes, which was still looked down upon but didn’t fetch you demerits.)
I am not physically gifted when it comes to your classic exercises such as sit ups; climbing a rope to the ceiling is enough to make me swoon…and running laps around the big field was going to kill me. I turned out to be good at the long jump, the standing broad jump, a fiasco at hurdles, fell off the balance beam regularly, couldn’t even address the pommel horse, was sure I’d break my neck doing tumbling….no good with anything to do with a ball …oh wait, except for volleyball! To everyone’s astonishment, including mine, I was amazing at volleyball. I had a killer serve. In the ninth grade, I captained the team that won the PE tournament. In those days there were no competitive intramural sports other than the ones the guys played and football, basketball, baseball and track were the total extent of the extremely well funded athletic department. So my girls volleyball team victory wasn’t immortalized anywhere and was promptly forgotten by everyone except my teammates and me. I’ve hugged that victory to my heart EVER since. however. Not the least of the winners’ spoils was never having to run the dreaded laps again.
When we moved to high school, the buildings had just been constructed and the girls area of the gym wasn’t ready. I sat out the entire tenth grade, using gym class as an extra study hall. Except for the days the head coach and the head PE teacher would deliver semi mysterious lectures about how boys were like cars and we young ladies had to be the brakes and something about never letting them lure us into the bushes…okayyyy, still scratching my head over that one.
In the 11th grade I safely transitioned to working on the school paper and thus escaped PE, and in my senior year I stayed on the paper and became a teacher’s aide, co-wrote the senior class play and just generally did things that came a whole lot more naturally to me than any of the PE stuff ever did. I think the PE teachers were just as relieved as I was.
I do love to take long walks – I grew up in the country and we walked everywhere. I enjoy a good bicycle ride and I adore swimming laps. I was pretty darn good at archery too. None of those things helped me one bit in junior high school.
And the sight of a green and white PE uniform can still send me screaming into the night LOL!
What kind of memories do you have from gym class days?