Skipping Gym in High School

16 Responses

  1. Jerilyn says:

    The about face is an amazing thing isn’t it? I like these posts reflecting on what it was to be overweight. I’ve never been thin a day in my life and really I’m still an 18/20 so I’m not thin by any means but I’m slowly getting there, so these posts really strike a chord with me.

    Congratulations. I know it feels good.

  2. Erin says:

    This is an interesting post. As an adult-onset runner, I wonder myself… what could make PE classes better for kids who aren’t the athletic stars?

    For myself, if I knew about run walk intervals, for example, I wouldn’t have thought that to be a runner I had to sprint at an all-out effort all the time. And I wouldn’t have waited thirty years to try running regularly or finish a marathon.

    Anyone have an AWESOME PE experience with a teacher who paid as much positive attention to the regular kids as the “stars”?

  3. Joy Manning says:

    Tyler, I also hated gym so much as a kid. There’s a lot that should happen to improve PE for overweight kids and ALL kids. That said, don’t you appreciate fitness now, at a time in your life when dramatic fewer of your peers reap the benefits? I know I was thinking about just this morning, how happy I am to be running almost everyday now when I couldn’t do it in high school.

  4. I failed PT the first time, and passed the second because I chipped my ankle and wore a walking cast! hah! 🙂
    About-face is a kinda silly move stepping outside of the box. Being able to stand at parade rest for 3 hours was something … Certainly couldn’t do that nowadays.

  5. Dani says:

    Ugh. I hated gym class. I wasn’t particularly overweight at the time (maybe leaning toward chubby, but active) but it was a nightmare for someone who was painfully shy and had no friends. Gym class actually made me hate the very idea of exercise… I stopped doing things outside for fun and just spent more time sitting in my room with a book.

    It was also frustrating because it was so pointless… we had fitness ‘tests’ that we had to pass (bouncing a volleyball on your arms for fifteen bounces, that sort of thing) but for the most part it was a lot of standing around and doing nothing. There were maybe fifteen minutes of actual exercise per class, and that usually involved humiliating yourself while the teacher yelled and the rest of the class watched.

    I don’t know if taking gym is the answer… I think that positive habits being formed and reinforced at home is far more important than the little they give you in public schools.

  6. Trixie Delight says:

    Wow, this post really hit home for me. I’ve wondered about this too,having been largely inactive mostly thru school, not having someone open “team sports” to me as an option, and THEN going into the military and having my weight start to become an issue just before I discharged.

    I had no concept then of average weight/overweight, so until my uniform began to feel tight, I didn’t realize I was overweight. Soon after it was noticed on a yearly fitness test and that’s what kicked off the process. I really wish it had been framed for me in more of a self-empowering way, but it was just a standard I had busted. Instead of opting to handle it (like I could handle it – I could barely accept it) I opted to definitely take discharge and left in shame, probably within a couple months of having my weight become a serious enlistment issue. Instead of running on a tredmill, I looked at the amount of weight I was over and ran for discharge. At the time I was maybe 15lbs overweight by their standards and now I am 25 additional lbs more that that. I have only recently faced this, not just as something I need to do, but as something I CAN do.

  7. yobigmike says:

    I loved gym, but I could see why some of my fellow fat kids didn’t. For some, high school can be a cruel experience and I saw some kids go through daily ridicule and humiliation. I was kinda like the tough guy in school, but never picked on those guys because they were defenseless. Teachers sometimes got in on the fun cause they wanted to seem “semi cool”. No one deserves to be humiliated due to their size.
    I’m glad you found a positive from that experience. The military training was actually more of a task and beneficial than the regular hop, skip, and shoot that’s done in gym…

  8. michelle says:

    I hated gym too, It’s so ironic. Now when I am at the gym, I am the one smiling on the elliptical!

  9. Mike says:

    Oh man, this brings back too many painful memories. I too was in JROTC (Air Force), and like you, the worst part of it was uniform day. I was barely able to squeeze into the pants they provided, and was miserable the entire day.

    I also had one of the instructors talk to me about my weight.

    He didn’t suggest that I drop out of the program, but it was humiliating to have him mention it. The worst part is that it made things worse because it got that vicious circle turning faster. I felt humiliated/embarrassed/depressed so I ate more to self medicate these emotions.

    We didn’t have PT though (however I was on the drill team, so there was lots of marching).

  10. Larkspur says:

    The really amazing thing to me is that mentioning someone’s weight is so rarely useful. Sometimes when a physician says something, but most the of the time, it just seems to make people feel terrible without effecting change. My teenaged son (6’2″, about 180) is not fat though his tummy fluctuates a little depending on his regime at the moment. I can suggest cutting back on sweets or encourage him to run and he is unoffended. I would cut out my tongue and eat it before I said anything to my teenage daughter, who fortunately is also okay weight-wise. So much pain around weight/fat. What a shame it is such a terribly loaded subject (for me, too, of course.)

  11. Derek says:

    I put a lot of effort into avoiding PE when I was in middle school and high school. I don’t know how I did it, but I seemed to be able avoid the PE requirement on several occasions.

    Looking back, had I not fought so hard against PE and actually embraced it, would I be where I am today? Would I still be struggling with my weight all these years later?

    I think the question is how can the education system make it a more positive experience for today’s youth, especially the obese children. Instead of shaming them and turning them away, a customized plan for these kids would be better.

  12. Katie says:

    This thread illustrates to me why I enjoy your blog, Tyler. The comments are always as thought-provoking and insightful as your articles. I am a pediatric physical therapist. I use play to motivate my clients to move in ways that are very difficult/painful for them. We are using the Wii with some of our older clients. There is so much more than slogging around a track, embarrassing and defeating our children before they even get started.

  13. Donna says:

    I was terrified of gym class. I wasn’t really overweight-though i had some severe body image issues and spent a good bit of time almost anorexic as a result. ROTC was a life saver. I enjoyed it so much, and once I found my niche, I excelled at it. I didn’t join the military either, but the one lesson I kept in my heart and mind that has served me well in my life was the determination and self discipline that is instilled in you pretty early on. JROTC is not an easy way out of anything, but it is worth it for the people who have the testicular fortitude to go through it.

  14. Mike says:

    I did the same exact thing in high school to avoid gym. Just like you, wearing the uniform to school was awful, but not as awful as the thought of going to gym.

    I’m 37 now. I weighed in over 300lbs in 2006 (I don’t know the exact weight b/c I hated my scale & avoided it at all costs). Since then, I’ve gotten down to about 200lbs, ran a marathon & a couple of half marathons & now I’m back to around 240 and trying to get back on track. It’s nice to hear your story about not being completely militaristic. I’ve done the same thing & been successful. My fault has always been in staying on course for more than a year.

    I will be frequenting this website from now on to see how you’re doing as I try to get back on track.

  15. Jenn says:

    I am a the dreaded PE teacher, so this is interesting reading for me. The only fitness testing we do are the ones the state makes us do and we tell the kids repeatedly the tests aren’t a big deal and don’t affect their actual grade. We try not to ostracize anyone in our classes. My partner and I try our best to make PE fun with the resources we have available. During those boring winter months, we use music to help the kids enjoy their time with us. There’s nothing better than turning off the music and hearing a bunch of groans when we tell the kids our time is up for the day. At least I know they were having a good time.

  16. Kristi says:

    I joined band in high school to avoid P.E. Little did I know marching band practice would be way more rigorous (4 hours a day the entire month of August, and two hours everyday after school until November) than anything P.E. had to offer. I dropped 26 pounds the first four months of my freshman year in high school and was a “normal” size 10 .

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