Gym Class Made Me Hate Exercise – Oh Yeah

Read an interesting article this week on 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?


8 comments on “Gym Class Made Me Hate Exercise – Oh Yeah

  1. Gym class was the worst, especially since it was middle school. Fortunately I was in band in high school, so my gym class requirements were limited to 2 semesters that I did in summer school. In Georgia. Sooo hot….

  2. Not only did it create a lifelong aversion to exercise and communal showers, it taught me the fine art of cutting school by grade 5. Were it not for mandatory attendance I would have been an honor student on graduation. Instead, I had to cut 2x a week. High school should have been 740 days, but I actually attended a hair under 350 days. My mother kept track. And my husband got a GED because he refused to go back to school for an extra year for PE credits. He’s pretty freaking smart too.

    • I didn’t cut the class, but it did ruin my GPA because at the time it was counted in your overall gradepoint. Not to mention the grades for how well (which means badly) I could do the exercises. Thank goodness all that is wayyyyy behind us! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I hated gym, especially during high school. We were required to have one PE class and I took it in my Freshman year to get it over with. I would have been perfectly happy to walk laps or something, but the emphasis on gym was ‘team sports.’ If, like me, you’re the kid that was always picked last for teams, gym was a special Hell. After the last day of Freshman year, when I passed gym, I went home and burned the shorts I’d worn to that class.

  4. Gym class. What fun it was to have to strip down to nothing but your birthday suit and shower in front of 29 other girls while the gym teacher stood there watching WAY TOO CLOSELY! Good times!

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