Amy linked to a story about a middle school teacher in Pensacola, Florida who let kids out of gym class for a dollar a day. What a brilliant money making idea! Why couldn’t my P.E. teacher have had such entrepreneurial skills?
Being a fat girl, I was never a fan of gym class, but I was rather good at avoiding it after elementary school. At my middle school, if you took band class you didn’t have to take gym. Then in high school you only had to do one semester of gym and one semester of health. The year before I started high school, they counted marching band as your gym credit, but they stopped doing this my freshman year. Evidently no one on the school board had keeled over from heat stroke on a sun bleached field after running around playing show tunes for three hours. Okay, I never got heat stroke, but I did throw up after the first day and had to run off the field with a bloody nose once. Marching band is hardcore, y’all. I only lasted a year before turning in my feathered hat and brocade jacket.
I ended up taking gym over summer school because I was always trying to cram more electives into my schedule. I went everyday for four hours for about 3 or 4 weeks. I liked getting it all over at once, but there was always the fear that if you missed more than two classes you’d have to take the whole shebang over again due to absenteeism. Truly, the only thing more horrible than gym class is the thought of taking gym class twice.
Looking back at my gym experiences, it’s a shame that none of my physical education teachers were able to convince me that being fit could be fun and would enhance other aspects of my life. No, gym was about avoiding dodgeballs and the fear of group showering. Gym was about trying to avoid being picked on for being weak. At the time, I saw absolutely no point in requiring gym class. Now that I’m older and wiser and fitter, I can see that your physical health directly affects your mood, just like what you eat (or don’t eat) can affect your ability to concentrate, focus and learn. Also, being able to run, lift heavy things, and just generally be able to use your body gives you great confidence that bleeds over into your overall attitude towards life.
I really wish gym class had focused on how to incorporate fitness into my life in an enjoyable way and not on how to climb a rope dangling from the ceiling. Seriously, when have I ever needed to climb a rope? My life is not a Jackie Chan movie. I have never been stuck on the side of a cliff and had to climb up a rope to safety. But now that I have said this, I’m sure sometime next week I’ll be dangling by a rope off a cliff somewhere screaming “Damn it! Why didn’t I pay attention in gym class?” because the universe is funny like that. Until there is some serious gym class reform in America, there will always be kids willing to pay a buck to sit on the bleachers instead of dribble a basketball while wearing an ugly school gym uniform.