A Lasting Impression – Gym Class

I blame my undeniable loathing of exercise on my grade school gym glass.     Gym class, for those of you not old enough to remember, was  when you went to the gym  as a break from regular classroom.   In gym class was when you put on special “gym shoes” and did all sorts of activities with your classmates. Dodge ball, rope climbing, kick ball, red rover, wiffle ball and the president’s physical fitness challenge.

Gym class was a time when kids with athletic abilities became leaders.   The first kids to finish their sit ups or laps around the gym got to pick the teams.  Rewards for the talented, and I was already getting left behind.   I wasn’t a sit up champ, and my short legs never made me an early finisher in anything that involved running,

Of course these first finishers always picked other talented kids to be on their teams.  I think boys were always picked first as they had the advantage of having pants, while at that time girls were still required to wear skirts and dresses to school.  Then the tom boys were choose as they had skills, that the average girl did not.  Those picked last were the “rejects”  too little, too delicate, too girly, too uncoordinated, or wearing glasses….those percieved without athletic prowess. They wanted to win and did not see me as a contributor to that cause, so I was always one of the last kids picked.

This pattern of teaming up  and being chosen last quickly made a believer out of me.  I was a looser in gym.  I quickly came to dislike this time of activity.  I was repeatedly told by my classmates I did not have what it takes to be part of their winning ways.  Not with words or in cruel ways, but in that subtle way of exclusion by being one of the last choose.  Taken on a team because everyone had to be on a team, not because they wanted me. I never developed into a skilled kicker, dodger, climber or runner.   I spent more time sitting out than playing the games as I quickly became “out.”

In retrospect I think all of this contributed to my adult loathing of  exercise. I never became a believer in myself in athletic abilities.    I  never learned to enjoy the  feeling that a good walk, run or exercise session gives you.    I  never thought of myself as excelling in any kind of sport or having a personal athletic talent.  As an adult, I walk because it is good for me and do like to say I did a few miles today (the pride factor).   I do have to admit that I enjoy yoga once I get started, but getting started takes sheer mental determination to get me to start.   That whole idea of exercise to this day does not sound like fun.  Sort of sad that all these years later that I can’t shake that feeling of being that little girl in grade school who wasn’t quite good enough.