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Old 02-18-2020, 06:41 PM
Urbanredneck is offline
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Was PE class in school good or bad?

What did you think of PE class when you were in school?

Interestingly last Sunday on NPR a lady was discussing her experience while researching the idea is if PE classes in school were worth it? (in todays test driven schools time is critical - maybe PE isnt worth it?) Well sadly she reported being bombarded with answers from people who described PE and 'gym class" as hell with drill instructor evil teachers, horrid uniforms, forced showers, bullying, being not chosen first, and such that leads many people even into adulthood to where they now hate exercise because what its associated with.

Some good articles about the issue:

1. How a negative experience in PE class in school can effect lifelong exercise habits. LINK

2. Gym class can be so bad kids are skipping school LINK Note - Atlantic paywall

3. Overcoming bad experiences from gym class LINK

Yes, I can remember gym class both being terrible and good depending upon the teachers. Some gym teachers were mostly hired because a. they can coach say basketball and b. they were the school "enforcers".

IMO it was about 30 years ago this began to change. Nowadays most PE teachers are professionals and take their classes seriously.

So what do you all think?

#1. Was gym class in your day good or bad?

#2. Did a positive or negative experience in PE set you up for how you exercise or be physically active later on?
Old 02-18-2020, 06:45 PM
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1. The class was good; the guys in the class were horrific little shits that didn't want to have anything to do with me, so class was staggeringly unenjoyable, regardless of how good the instruction was.

2. I've actually done really well in exercise classes from college on, provided they aren't social at all: show up, do what the teacher says, leave. No team sports ever. Solo exercise doesn't work as well for me because I do kind of need the drill instructor telling me what to do.
Old 02-18-2020, 06:45 PM
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I loved gym.
Old 02-18-2020, 06:55 PM
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The class was bad, in that sports are bad and exercise is bad. I don't recall getting a lot of crap from my peers, but I do rather vividly recall being forced to run a mile, which took me half an hour because every time I tried to go fast I devolved to a rasping wheeze in a few dozen seconds and then had to trudge while recovering. Rinse, repeat, trudge.
Old 02-18-2020, 06:59 PM
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The class was decent. I was not very athletic, so a lot of it was beyond my abilities. However, the coaches didn't allow bad sportsmanship -- if you said anything even mildly insulting about someone else in the class, they'd call you out on it. The coach was big on the exercise part of it (one reason our school didn't play football was because he didn't think it was good exercise, and we fielded a soccer team instead). While I didn't much care for the exercise at first, the social part of it was never more than innocuous.

It had no effect on my exercise. I find it boring, and I don't like getting short of breath. I played tennis in high school and did some cross country skiing, but that has nothing to do with gym class. I get most of my exercise from walking -- I'm a very brisk walker and it works as exercise.
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:03 PM
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"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.

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Old 02-18-2020, 07:08 PM
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It was horrible. Constant bullying and attacks, with the response of the teachers ranging form indifference to actively encouraging the bigger kids to beat on the smaller ones and "keep them in their place". That's a quote. I consistently got an F because I reached the point where I'd entirely given up and was just trying to keep from being hurt or killed.
Old 02-18-2020, 07:10 PM
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PE in my first high school (freshman year) in Tennessee was awful. It consisted of the boys being given 45 minutes to play basketball. That's all we did for the entire year. The small nerds like myself were bullied and elbowed out of the way, and I spent the entire period being allowed to sit in the bleachers and read a book -- for the entire year.

At my second high school in Illinois, it was a much better program. Over the course of three years, they took us through a program that included instruction in just about every sport imaginable, plus other activities like square dancing. For example, we spent a few weeks in gymnastics, and had to be able to perform a basic routine on each of the pieces of equipment. Another module was in swimming, and that one was taught by the school's varsity swim coach. By that point, I had actually been on the swim team for two seasons, so the coach used me to demonstrate all four of the competitive strokes to the class (which was an ego boost for me), and which everyone in the class was expected to learn. We also did modules in tennis, track & field, cross country (which I hated), volleyball, racquetball, badminton, etc., plus more that I don't remember. Overall, it was a good experience for me.

Last edited by robby; 02-18-2020 at 07:11 PM.
Old 02-18-2020, 07:30 PM
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1. Generally enjoyed gym. I was a typical nerd who was mostly uncoordinated but possessed above-average size and height. Consequently, I rarely got picked on and was usually of some use for most activities and sports. It was a break from sitting at a desk all day learning mostly-tedious subjects. Honestly, the one semester I didn't enjoy gym was when got a teacher that actually taught gym and graded appropriately based on written tests and demonstrations of physical skills learned. I just wanted a period to run around while avoiding getting hit in the face by a ball.

2. PE has no bearing on on my exercise habits, I don't think. It was mostly just a break from schoolwork for me.
Old 02-18-2020, 07:33 PM
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I used to be a PE teacher (for ten years), and when people find out they usually want to tell me their horror stories.

And they're often not wrong. PE is an important subject, always has been, but unfortunately has more often than not been taught by idiots. I'm speaking of the people who exist only to coach the basketball or football team, and give nearly none of their attention or energy to teaching PE.

Also a big difference between PE at the elementary and secondary levels. Much more of a success with younger kids, who usually are happy to be active and doing physical things. Much harder in some ways to design a good curriculum for middle and high school kids, though I have seen it done well.

There are good PE teachers, people who buck the terrible traditions and do it in a thoughtful and modern way. I believe I was one of them, but two factors made me give it up. I got tired of pissing into the wind, and I had another career option which I'm in now. That said, I still believe in PE in principle. It definitely needs to be taught, and taught well. Unfortunately, not by me anymore.
Old 02-18-2020, 07:36 PM
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I hated it, other than a few activities. (Playing with the giant parachute was fun, and I was OK at dodgeball, because my natural instinct when I'm in a space where balls are flying around is to duck and cover my head, and that was the one game where it was an advantage.) But mostly, it consisted of all the other kids being better at stuff than I was, and a bunch of very confusing games where nobody ever explained the rules -- you were just supposed to know, and I didn't.

No effect on my exercise habits as an adult, except that I'm still astonished that people actually do such things of their own free will. (So, maybe it did affect them? But I can't imagine that I would like either organized sports or exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercise regardless of my childhood experiences.)
Old 02-18-2020, 07:43 PM
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I didn't like gym class because I am a terrible athlete with very poor coordination. I wasn't bullied though. If anything, I was cheered by the other students on the very rare occasion when I did well at something. The teachers weren't any better or worse than the non-gym teachers. That was Jr. High.

My final year of required PE was my first year of high school. The class was people who didn't play on a team because they sucked or their grades were too bad to get to be on a team. They didn't care what the fuck we did so long as no one got hurt. A few people played baseball kind of halfheartedly, some people smoked weed and I shot the breeze with the stoners. I wasn't much of a stoner yet and didn't ever smoke during school.

It had no bad or good effect on future exercising. I've done yoga, hiking and casual bike riding as an adult. Never team or competitive sports that require coordination.
Old 02-18-2020, 07:43 PM
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Hated it.

The coach who taught PE didn't teach anything; he joked with the jocks he knew in class then left and let THEM divide us up into teams and run things.
Old 02-18-2020, 07:47 PM
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Elementary and middle school weren't too bad. Our teacher actually taught basic sports fundamentals, like how to dribble, pass, and shoot a basketball. How to serve, set, and spike a volleyball. And various other sports. Even though I was never very good at them at least I felt like I was actually being taught something.

High school was horrible. It was basically what robby described above. The teacher just had us pick teams and play basketball for the period. Or sometimes it might be baseball, or football, or whatever sport she decided to have us play that day. But was always just "Go play a sport for 45 minutes." with no actual instruction. As the unathletic nerd I was of course always picked last. And as I really had no interest in playing anyway I mostly just stood around. Maybe if I was in the mood I would make a sort of half-assed attempt at playing defense when we were playing basketball. As far as I could tell everyone got an A just for showing up. Like the OP mentioned our PE teacher was probably just hired to coach the girls basketball team.

Did it affect my attitude towards exercise? It may well be responsible for my dislike of team sports. I done some individual activities like bicycling which I enjoy. But I detest participating in team sports.

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Old 02-18-2020, 08:06 PM
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I went to a gigantic high school, so my PE class had over 100 boys and maybe two teachers. They knew that we geeky Jewish Honors class kids were never going to be jocks, and so they didn't hassle us. We had to do the Presidents fitness test, but they gave us the basketball shoot one first, which we all flunked, and they didn't bother making us do pushups and that kind of crap.
I spent most of PE running around the track (untimed) with other kids editing the school science magazine.
Not bad at all.
Old 02-18-2020, 08:18 PM
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I liked PE well enough because I was good at it and had mostly good teachers, but it was pretty bad for the kids who weren't athletic.

My kids had much more inclusive PE classes, with aerobics, yoga, more sports they'd be able to use in their lives after high school.

The elementary school down the street does a lot of circus sports, with tumbling and unicycling.

I taught after-school kickball. Nobody was ever allowed to chose teams. They had to count off. No kid should ever have to face being picked last.
Old 02-18-2020, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post

I spent most of PE running around the track (untimed) with other kids editing the school science magazine.

Not bad at all.
Now that's making good productive use of time!
Old 02-18-2020, 08:24 PM
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I haven’t thought about it in decades, but I think it was basically good. I was small but reasonably athletic and fairly popular. I did not love wrestling, track, climbing ropes or gymnastics. I liked soccer, football, running, floor hockey and weightlifting. But the instruction was okay and I got through it without problems. I might like these sports now more than I did then; but probably not.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:24 PM
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I believe it was Calvin who observed that gym was state sponsored terrorism
Old 02-18-2020, 08:26 PM
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Neither all that great nor all that bad. The absolute worst was dressing for the first class of the day then being sent outside at 41.44° North Latitude in April.

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Old 02-18-2020, 08:44 PM
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I think PE can be valuable and that it has an important place in schools.

But my personal experience with it was pretty bad.

It started off promising. I remember Ms. Austin, the PE teacher I had in the first grade. One day she showed us how to do a push-up and then gave us a few minutes to practice. I remember everyone giggling and goofing off except for me. I could see Ms. Austin wasn't playing around, so I got to pushing. I wanted to be strong just like her. At the end of the year, I was rewarded with the Best First Grader in PE Award, and I think it was because of my excellent push-upmanship. I probably picked up some other awards that year, but that's the only one I remember.

It was downhill from there, though. The lovely Ms. Austin was soon replaced with Horrible Ms. Beach.

Ms. Austin could see that I had an athletic heart despite being Super Klutz from Outerspace. Ms. Beach couldn't see that at all. To her, I was lazy. I didn't try hard enough. She would demonstrate how to do something (throw a frisbee, throw a ball, skip rope, jumping jacks, hoola-hooping, etc.) and then expect me to intuit how to do it. "See, it's easy!" she'd say. I'm sure it was easy for her and for 99% of everyone in the class. But her lessons would never stick with me, and all the "it's easy!" shit would just make me feel like a loser.

Kids who struggle with academic material aren't constantly put on blast in the classroom. To be sure, there is embarrassment waiting for them if they get called to the board or to read out loud. But generally no one but them and the teacher knows when they fuck up on a homework assignment or a test. Being in the lowest reading group might be embarrassing for you, but at least you don't have to worry about the smart kids laughing at you whenever you do your reading exercises. You do get some break from the pointing and laughing. You do get enough space away from the peanut gallery to learn.

But in PE, everything was always out in the open. Everyone knew that I would be the last one to finish running laps. Everyone knew that I would be the first to get dodge-balled in the face. Everyone would watch my flailing limbs during warm-up exercises and crack up. Even square dancing, which I actually enjoyed, was a cause of embarrassment for me. Really, the only time I didn't feel embarrassed in PE was that day we did those push-ups in the first grade.

So I don't have a lot of fond memories of PE. In high school, PE was the only class I skipped unapologetically (I felt sorta-kinda bad about ditching orchestra ). It was not a source of self-esteem or achievement. I don't think I learned anything except for maybe how to laugh at myself.

Nonetheless, I still think PE as a theoretical construct has value. I just wish it could be taught differently.

The "tough love" stuff might work with some things. Sometimes kids really are lazy and need a verbal kick in the pants to move their bodies. But I really wish someone had identified my motor skill delay early on and had flagged me for intervention instead of yelling at me. When we see kids struggling with reading, we don't yell at them to "work harder". We give them extra help and maybe evaluate them for specific learning disabilities so they can get more tailored instruction. Maybe if we had the same approach to PE, it would haven't taken me 40 years to find out that I have a mild form of CP. I don't know how that diagnosis would have changed my life, but maybe the kids wouldn't have laughed at me so hard if they had known. Maybe Ms. Beach would have been kinder towards me. Maybe I would have had better self-esteem as a kid. Who the hell knows.
Old 02-18-2020, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Fretful Porpentine View Post
mostly, it consisted of all the other kids being better at stuff than I was
Originally Posted by hajario View Post
I didn't like gym class because I am a terrible athlete with very poor coordination.
This. Or those. Whatever.

Some of the basic exercises, such as jumping jacks, I could do all right, but they were boring. Anything involving potentially going over backwards, including somersaults (yes, you do go over backwards even during a forwards somersault, try it while thinking about it) terrified me. Anything involving throwing balls around was awful because I couldn't catch the ball, couldn't throw the ball with either speed or accuracy, and ducked if I thought the ball was coming anywhere remotely near my head.

Nobody ever wanted me on their team.

In one high school I went to you could ride horses for gym. That was the only gym class I ever actually wanted to go to. My love of horses was greater than my fear of falling. -- I did eventually learn to swim, not well enough to compete at anything, but well enough to enjoy it; but except for summer class that wasn't a gym option anywhere I was until I got to college.

I do not go to gyms. I do not go to exercise classes. On the other hand, I'm a farmer, of a style of farming that involves a lot of hand work. I get more exercise than most people.
Old 02-18-2020, 09:37 PM
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I was in dance so I got in the gymnastics classes. In jr. High and Highschool I was a cheerleader so exempt from PE.
Man, was I happy for that little thing
Ball sports and me don't get along.
Old 02-18-2020, 09:43 PM
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Gym class was a nightmare for me. I skipped a grade and as a result was smaller and less developed than everyone else in my class. When we had team sports they had the best kids be the team captains and take turns picking team members. The last two chosen were always me and a rather obese girl. The captains would argue over who had to take who.

In addition, I have always been nearsighted, and had to deal with risking getting my glasses broken or trying to play without them. The only sport I had any chance at was kickball because it used a large soft ball.

We had to wear baggy one-piece uniforms, which made my body look even worse than it was.

We always had a unit on calisthenics, including "deep knee bends." I've since read that these are really not good for the knees, which probably has something to do with my chronic knee problems.
Old 02-18-2020, 10:25 PM
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I despised everything about it, from the worthless activities to the teachers to the uniforms and locker rooms.

I was thinking about something related to this the other day: in primary school, one worthless activity they made us do is jump off things. You would have to climb to increasingly great heights and jump off onto a mat, practicing rolls. Do they still do that? By middle school, a worthless activity was making us climb ropes. You could imb to the very roof of the gym, maybe 30 feet up--you fall from that and a thin, stiff mat isn't going to save you--do schools still do that? Seems like serious liability issues with both. And what was the fucking point of it? Was it part of prepairing future Good Little Soldiers to go climbing and jumping in war? Cause I gotta say, not once in my life have I ever needed to jump off something or climb a rope.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 02-18-2020 at 10:27 PM.
Old 02-18-2020, 10:36 PM
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For the most part I found PE quite unpleasant for the usual reasons - bullying teachers, getting picked last. But the bad experiences weren't relentless; I had a few great gym teachers and encouraging fellow students.

When I was in high school, I had a history teacher I adored except for one thing: the worst insult he had for anyone he disagreed with was to call them a "gym teacher." Even as a high school student who hated PE, I knew that was unfair and inappropriate.
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:07 PM
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Hated it with a passion. But it had nothing to do with other students, or the teachers. I've never had any use for sports, so I resented being forced to take a class where I had to play sports. I always did the bare minimum to get a C.

In middle school, getting in trouble in PE meant one had to "do laps around the field" for the hour. But we would just leisurely walk those laps. I often found it preferable to mouth off to the coach and spend the period walking around the field that playing whatever the sport was.

Fortunately, in high school, only two years of PE were required. At the end of my sophomore year, there was much rejoicing.
Old 02-18-2020, 11:15 PM
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I mostly hated it. I was a lousy athlete with no endurance, so it was basically hell for me. We had to wear gym uniforms, and I hated those too (blue striped polyester...ugh. I was so glad when they finally went to shorts and T-shirts).

I firmly believe that it's not fair to subject all kids to the same PE class. Why not put the uncoordinated nerds, who suck at athletics and feel even worse because all the jock kids are making fun of them, into their own class and design a curriculum that actually helps them realize that maybe physical activity might be of some value when doing it with peers reasonably close to their own skill level?

You don't stick the D-minus jocks in the AP courses, because they'll fail and everybody knows it. Why stick the athletic equivalent of D-minus jocks in a class where they're expected to compete with the equivalent of the A students?

The only PE courses I enjoyed were in high school: golf and bowling. I still sucked at them, but at least they were kind of fun and we got to leave the school for a little while.

In answer to #2, I'm pretty sure it had a negative impact on my desire to do any sort of exercise for many, many years.

Last edited by Infovore; 02-18-2020 at 11:17 PM.
Old 02-18-2020, 11:15 PM
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I just remembered... my younger brother hated PE almost as much as I did. He took dance instead of PE his sophomore year of high school. When friends would get wind of this and make fun of him, he would shrug and say "while you're out there playing with the other boys, I'm dancing with 30 girls."
Old 02-18-2020, 11:25 PM
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My gym teacher was the first teaching job for a Big Ten quarterback who never got offered an NFL contract. I was the second-smallest wimp in my class. It wasn't pretty.
Old 02-18-2020, 11:33 PM
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I feel like there is no need to remove PE class since more students now are not as active comparing in our age. They usually would just play using their phones so they need exercise. Also, I agree that it is a way for some students to feel insecure especially when they are not picked so what we need to prioritize is helping these students to fight (not physically) like be strong mentally.
Old 02-19-2020, 12:42 AM
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I played sports outside of school, so gym was goofy, and to be avoided, unless it was floor hockey. Especially gymnastics and square dancing - the latter had the legendary Stan Gill suavely instructing us in his vintage white Fred Perry sweater, oversize glasses, and spiffy black and white patent leather shoes, while I, stoned, showed him a jiggy thing or two, and promptly got tossed.
Any Canucks remember the singularly putrid Canada_Fitness_Award_Program ? Were any of you bestowed with the venerable...dun, dun-dun-dun ***Award of Excellence***? DON'T LIE.
Fucking badge things.
One of the program's feats of derring-do was called the Flexed-Arm Hang, where you basically latched like a monkey onto a horizontal bar (with your feet not touching the ground) and see how long you could just basically hang there. One or two of us would start bugging the participants with stupid jokes to get them to laugh so they'd lose their hold, and fall - which also got us tossed.
Whoa the disgusting foul stench of the changeroom after soccer or lacrosse (which was kinda trippy) in the rain, and of course with no one showering, I'm sure we all have horror stories of sitting in class next to such foul vermin. Like myself.
Old 02-19-2020, 02:25 AM
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I took three years of ROTC in high school specifically because it counted as a PE credit.
Old 02-19-2020, 02:43 AM
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I'm not opposed to physical activity or the the concept of physical education in school, but I hated gym class as actually practiced in my school. The curriculum was one-size-fits-all and seemingly designed with jocks in mind. There was too much emphasis on competitive sports. You wasted a lot of time changing into and out of uniforms and picking teams. And the less athletic students like me were relegated to unimportant positions where there was nothing for us to do except stand around looking stupid. On the rare occasions when you are in a position to do something, you're likely to fail and earn the ire of your teammates, or at least the ones who care about winning. That can't really have much of a positive effect on physical fitness or instill a lifelong love of physical activity among kids who aren't already athletic.

I always thought they should have had two different gym classes: one for the jocks where competition is stressed and one for everybody else where non-competitive moderate-intensity aerobic and strength-training is stressed. Short lectures, not taking up the entire class period, on subjects like exercise physiology and nutrition, would also have been helpful.
Old 02-19-2020, 03:02 AM
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It was an exercise in humiliation, from the teachers (e.g. former army sergeants) on down.

And then there was the naked swimming.
Old 02-19-2020, 03:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Guest-starring: Id! View Post
Any Canucks remember the singularly putrid Canada_Fitness_Award_Program ? Were any of you bestowed with the venerable...dun, dun-dun-dun ***Award of Excellence***? DON'T LIE.
Fucking badge things.
Hmm, I remember seeing those badges on other people but I don't think my schools participated in that. Which is just as well.

Physical education in elementary school was not that bad. I didn't understand much, and wasn't very good at it, but it didn't matter much. The school "gym" was a room about the size of 4 or 6 classrooms, with a higher ceiling and lots of markings on the floor.

In the first year of high school, all of a sudden, it sucked. The school's newly-built gym was a huge, airy space with cold mercury lighting and a gigantic curtain separating the boys from the girls. To make up for the gender separation, our regular class of somewhat-high-performing kids was paired up with one of the classes of... bums. (All right, jocks with discipline problems, who got more gym periods than we did because they didn't have music class because, well, I guess the school got tired of replacing broken xylophones.)

The PE teacher took things way too seriously. He wasn't hostile to me, but he certainly gave the impression of not caring for those of us who didn't perform well. They did have people picking teams, and I was among the last 3 in most cases (years later, it turned out that all 3 of us were gay). And the guy I considered my best friend (who was in the class of bums) was somewhat hostile, as he couldn't be seen being friendly to me.

We were told from day 1 that showers were mandatory (these were individual shower cabins, not communal). So I tried to at least obey that rule (only 3 or 4 of us did), and was submitted to the unpleasantness of other guys kicking the door open to laugh at me while I was showering. I gave up the showers after a few weeks. The locker room was one of those adult-free zones where anything could happen. It was hell.

Things got a little better in the second high school I went to, but it still wasn't pleasant.

We had an annual run, either 3 km or 5 km, all through high school. We'd practice running for a few weeks before the event. I sucked at that, too. My schools didn't have any football, thank goodness. We did have rugby in the last year, that was unpleasant but didn't last long.

After all that, it wasn't until I finished my degree that I worked up the nerve to step into a gym. And even then, it was the (well-equipped) gym at my workplace. Now I go to the (commercial) gym every day, it's way less horrible that I pictured as a youth. People just do their own thing, there's no competition and very little pressure to perform. But I still wouldn't participate in group sports if you paid me, and that includes Crossfit.

Last edited by Heracles; 02-19-2020 at 03:21 AM.
Old 02-19-2020, 04:48 AM
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As a 14 year old high school freshman, the only exercise I was interested in was lifting weights. For about a month before I officially started high school, I had been attending pre-season conditioning sessions for the wrestling team - a few hours each day of either running or weightlifting. Hated the running. (Also hated the wrestling, once the actual season started.) But I enjoyed the weightlifting. Once school started, I suddenly found myself in a stupid gym class where we played stupid games with balls and other shit I didn't care about, and running which I hated. I wish I could have just spent that period lifting weights. I became good at inconspicuously lingering on the edges of the class and not actually participating, but moving around every so often so it sort of looked like I was. And I guess that was good enough for the teacher - but I hated having to play this game of half-ass participating with no enthusiasm whatsoever. Hated the waste of time. On the plus side, the day we were individually tested on various exercises, I did WAY more pushups than anyone else in the class.
Old 02-19-2020, 05:32 AM
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Phy Ed was an easy grade. Show up and run around for 45 minutes and get an A, no home work. Ours was an easy class to ditch every now and then because if you went to evening open swim for an hour it counted towards making up 1 gym class missed.

It wasn't required our senior year but I took it as an elective because it was an easy A. Senior gym was a blast. We played golf, tennis, and bowling. By senior year most of us were old enough to drink so we were hoisting beers at the bowling alley while there on official class time. Viva gym class! Of course, it was the 1970's, YMMV.

The worst thing about Phy Ed class were the pantywaists who were whining about how much they hated gym class.
Old 02-19-2020, 05:57 AM
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Enjoyed it. We didn't have dedicated PE teachers, it was just a period one of the other subject teachers took because it was in the curriculum. They generally were just interested in us getting some fresh air and exercise. So we played football or volleyball (not competitively, just kicking/hitting a ball around for an hour), or went on a cross country jog/walk, most PE periods. If it was raining, we skipped it (very few South African schools have indoor gyms)

Last edited by MrDibble; 02-19-2020 at 05:59 AM.
Old 02-19-2020, 06:30 AM
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I thought it was OK. I was a nerdy kid with really thick glasses, but nobody gave me much crap during gym. I was athletic enough to not be the last kid chosen for an activity, but I don't recall the teachers ever asking the kids to choose up teams.

My son is having a good experience with PE, though he's less athletic than I was. Great teachers through 5th grade. Diligent professionals who really want all the kids to love sports and physical activity.
Old 02-19-2020, 06:53 AM
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I totally didn't get it. We played softball, kickball, wiffleball, etc on our own time and had fun doing it. As a school activity we were forced to participate and did not enjoy it. I also never understood "Art" as a class.
Old 02-19-2020, 07:00 AM
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Hated every second of it with every fibre of my being. I was an awkward, gangly teenager - think baby giraffe on ice. We would do different types of PE in blocks of a few weeks. Cross country running or (field) hockey I could just about cope with. Gymnastics? That was when my mother had to call the school to try to figure out why I was suddenly "ill" on Tuesdays. No, I can't even do a forward roll. And they tried to make us do a forward roll along the top of the vaulting box. I fell off, and just got shouted at for not trying.

A horrendous way to deal with children.

This was in Scotland in the Seventies.
Old 02-19-2020, 07:25 AM
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From this thread:
Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael
Reading through this thread has been interesting for me - and has me straining to remember back almost forty years to my own high school gym experience.

I could have been interested in various gym programs, but I was absolutely terrified at the idea of showering with the rest of the class. I remember going into the locker rooms the first day, unlocking and locking back up the basket assigned to me, but I don't recall ever going in there again. I never even bought a gym suit.

I didn't have much of a problem with bullies. I was by far the tallest kid in my grade, and, while I was not particularly outgoing or aggressive, bullies did not find me a soft target. I was, however, a very private and introverted kid, and the idea of being naked in a group was very foreign.

The main gym teacher was old school, but my teacher was new, a young guy, and somehow (I really don't remember how) we came to some sort of agreement. I never went to class, but he kept passing me through. I don't know what he thought -- perhaps he figured I was gay or something (I'm not), but, in any case, he was understanding. The old coach didn't like it much, but it wasn't his call.

We had to have four semesters of gym to graduate, and my teacher left after my third semester. I actually didn't even know we had a new teacher, and wound up failing the fourth semester. Eventually, in my senior year, I went back to the new guy and arranged to get credit for outside exercise (I lived and worked on a farm, and got plenty!)

The 70s were a time when school programs underwent a lot of change. Class requirements were changed - dumbed down in a lot of cases. One year survey courses (like Biology) were split up into a variety of one-quarter specialty courses, from which the student could pick subjects which struck their interest. Homework was made optional. Perhaps a similar attitude was taking hold in the PE department.

So I kinda lucked my way through it. It might have been better if I had wound up with the old-school teacher and I was forced to break out of my shell -- but it would not have been comfortable.
Old 02-19-2020, 07:40 AM
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Elementary school: Sometimes we played games, like kickball or bombardo (aka dodgeball). Sometimes we did physical "busywork," like run/walk around the school building. Sometimes we had to wait around and take turns getting tested on things like how fast we could run a sprint or how many pushups we could do. Some of it was kind of fun, much of it was boring and tedious and uncomfortable, but I don't remember anything especially awful. I absolutely sucked at all of it, and was usually one of the last ones picked when teams were chosen, but I don't recall any malice in that: I was the "smart kid" in the class, not one of the strong kids or the fast kids or the coordinated kids.

High school: We'd spend a few weeks each on various different activities, which ranged from kind of fun to really tedious and annoying. They didn't make us shower for gym class, but we did have to change into/out of gym clothes, which was a minor PITA.

In retrospect, I don't think P.E. did me any harm, and might have done me a little good; but at the time I would have been happy to avoid it.
Old 02-19-2020, 07:47 AM
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I didn't have a PE class till 9th grade (school year 1968-69), having attended a Catholic elementary school that had no gym - our playground was literally the church parking lot. Ergo, I never really learned how to play sports beyond neighborhood versions. Suddenly, at 13, I was in a class full of girls who actually had some experience and skills that were foreign to me. Plus there was the whole showering with strangers thing.

I didn't so much hate PE class as I felt out of my league. I did OK with individual sports, like tennis or archery or floor exercise, but I'd never really learned how to play on a team, so softball and basketball and volleyball weren't a lot of fun. And when we had units on the gymnastics equipment, I was mostly terrified of getting hurt - especially on the balance beam. And we won't even talk about my attempts to climb that stupid rope.

The teachers were OK - I never felt bullied and I expect they recognized that I'd never be a jock, but I was polite and I tried, so I passed. Honestly, the worst thing that ever happened to me in PE was the day we were doing floor exercises on the mats, so we had to leave our shoes along the wall. Someone stole my brand-new sneakers!

Bottom line, it was an OK class. And less of a waste of my time than the stupid Home Ec class I was forced to take.
Old 02-19-2020, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Fretful Porpentine View Post
a bunch of very confusing games where nobody ever explained the rules -- you were just supposed to know, and I didn't.
YES! What was up with that?

I did quite enjoy PE one year. The punishment for not dressing out was to run the parking lot. We would run as far as my friend's car, then take the rest of the day off.
Old 02-19-2020, 08:04 AM
Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
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I was pretty athletic so I had no problems, but I remember PE seemed like a waste of time. I was on a team so I could usually get out of doing whatever game or activity was scheduled to go run on the track or lift weights.
Old 02-19-2020, 08:16 AM
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It was more or less irrelevant. I learned on the first day that, if I showed up, and my uniform was clean, I was guaranteed a C and it didn't count towards my GPA. That is all the information I needed, and formed my attitude towards the classes from then on, which was "whatever".

I was already in hard 5-day-a-week training for judo, and I wasn't about to risk injury that would interfere with that or distract me. So it was mostly stand around and watch the other jocks scrimmaging. Run laps? Sure, fine with me. It is remarkable how slowly I can run a lap. We did a wrestling segment. That was fine - I practiced my guards and sweeps and takedowns and didn't care very much about the score. Once in a while we did tests on the rules of basketball or something. Well, no offense, coach, but a ten-minute read thru the material is about all the preparation I feel I need.

If you made any of the varsity teams, you were exempt from PE class. I was not, even when I was in training for nationals. Go figure. But then again, whatever.

It has had no effect that I can discern on my subsequent exercise habits. I have bee in training one way or another since I was eleven. The PE teachers themselves were no better nor worse than any other teachers. One was a jerk, none of the rest of them were particularly inspiring, but I wasn't prepared to be inspired.

Old 02-19-2020, 08:30 AM
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My high school PE wasn't great but it wasn't a horror show either. I wasn't athletically inclined or interested but that led more to me being placed in far left field and ignored than harassed. Some non-team stuff I did fairly well in such as running or gymnastics so those parts of PE were tolerable. It was mostly the baseball/football/basketball parts where I was pointless.

Senior year, PE was broken into a bunch of weird electives you could pick from. I took an "Adventure ed" course that was orienteering and rappelling (up and down the side of the gym) and another course that was archery, golf and bowling (huh?) which was as fun as PE was going to get. No, the school didn't have a bowling alley; we'd load up into a bus and drive to a local alley 5min away and bowl for 25min then head on back.

None of this had much impression on my current physical state. Like I said, I didn't mind the stuff like running or push-ups so much; it was the competitive team sports that I disliked and I doubt many people make football the core of their fitness regime.
Old 02-19-2020, 08:33 AM
Hari Seldon is offline
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Hayed it. No PE until HS, but then it was required for everyone for the whole four years. It was divided into 2 hours a week of calisthenics (pushups, horse exercises, rope climbing to the gym ceiling, rings, that sort of thing, none of which I could ever do) and 2 hours a week of sports (softball, basketball, handball) which I actually enjoyed, even though I wasn't any good--except for hitting a softball. One of the teachers was an ex-army drill sergeant and a sadist. I guess the others were okay. I got 8 straight Ds. I survived.


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