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jca2's avatar

Do you remember what Phys Ed class was like when you were in school, and if so, was it fun or not fun?

Asked by jca2 (15923points) September 20th, 2019

I’m talking about elementary school, middle school, high school.

Was physical education class fun for you, or did you not like it?

Did you have to wear uniforms? How was it getting dressed for phys ed class?

I just watched this short, 3½ minute video on phys ed not necessarily having the intended results for kids, from The Atlantic Magazine. That’s what prompted this question.

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38 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Yes I remember vividly.

Lower school: We had a great fun nice friendly clever teacher from Wales who often had fun ideas for things to do. usually fun or at least not bad, and easy-going. No dress code. No changing clothes. Cultivated a positive attitude towards doing fun physical things.

Middle school: evil surprise. not-very-smart-or-imaginative authoritarian teachers. required changing clothes into shorts. required showering with no privacy. required stretches and exercises. annoying sports and playing games that weren’t very fun. required going outside in cold and sometimes wet weather. being threatened with low ratings by teachers acting like we should care what our PE ratings were. something to endure and survive.

Oh, and when they did swimming – being forced to do some swimming stuff that felt unsafe even though I was a decent informal swimmer. I had to weigh seriously whether I would prefer to fight (physically combat) the PE teachers or not. (I concluded I would rather fight them, but that modern society would not understand and would punish me too much for it.) Had to appeal to better adults to overcome some of their authority bullshit.

Developed a strong desire to avoid participation in organized physical activity, and to never be under the authority of jerks.

High School: A much less annoying version of Middle School PE, but still a chore, only sometimes fun. Had elective versions, so I chose the least evil-seeming: Racquet sports, Golf. They still forced us to jog before golf. Did the minimum required and then did no more organized physical activity.

filmfann's avatar

Not fun. Gym shorts.
Of my frequent high school nightmares, though, they never include gym.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Phys Ed class in lower grades was just playing outdoors and one class of square dancing!( only two classes and was cancelled).

Junior high school was outdoor sports like baseball or running around the field (laps).

High school was a variety of temp teachers on Dancing( weird fantasy theme..jazz/ballet?)

But best of all was the active team sports..volleyball,floor hockey,badminton,again laps around the Gym.

High School finally built a shower room ( new then) where is was quickly discovered that the Phys Ed teacher ( young male about 25 yrs old) took off the doors so that “he” could sneak a peek at us girls in the showers with the curtains removed!

That lasted only two times where we girls soon avoided taking showers and reported him. Later he was removed ( at the end of the year).

Yes I remember when the Phys Ed teacher made us go outside in our uniform ( shorts and t shirts) in the middle of winter! ( again we protested and stopped showing up for class.

Annually from junior high school to throughout High School we had Provincial Fitness competitions.

zenvelo's avatar

Middle School involved uniforms and showers, and the sadistic Mr Hansen. No fun at all even when we did Tennis.

High School was occasionally fun, because each quarter you got to choose your two activities for the next ten weeks. So they would mix something less popular (weight training) with something fun (flag football).

On a scale of fun from one to ten, (one is no fun at all, 10 is sex) high school PE was about a 6.

Yellowdog's avatar

I usually skipped Gym class and hid in one of the back stairwells.

At Craigmont High School (Memphis) in the 1980s, guys raped each other.

No one ever missed me. I usually got a “C” by default, because I doubt any of the coaches even knew I wasn’t there, and if they did notice my absence, I think they understood.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I loved PE. We ran, played volleyball, bball, lifted weights (many of us girls), exercises like push-ups, pull-ups. I won a sit up comp in hs.

As far as being naked, that was junior high on, and didn’t bother me at all.

The only thing I wasn’t into, and that’s because my friends weren’t, was running and track. The rope-climbing was terrible, too, I never could get my dumb legs to cooperate.

Our coaches were great, too, really nice men, very encouraging. As long as we were moving, they didn’t complain too much.

snowberry's avatar

I had very few positive memories of any of the schools I attended. Gym class was no exception, but nothing stands out in my mind.

Wait, I didn’t think of it as gym, but during the winter months I got to go skiing every Friday. THAT was awesome!

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Not fun when you get bullied for being physically more developed than others your age. So I avoided it as much as I could.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

No fun I suck at team sports,I have always liked one on one or you against the rest that school never offered.

elbanditoroso's avatar

We all had to wear grey t-shirts and blue gym shorts. Classes were segregated by gender – boys had the boy’s gym, gir’s had the girl’s gym. (Yes my high school had two gyms.)

Gym was where they taught sex ed, as well.

My high school had two pools (one boys one girls). Swim class was required – 4 week curriculum, Boys had to swim without suits. This was high school (1969–1972).

ragingloli's avatar

It was the bane of my existence.
Sport ist Mord.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I loved PE in all grades. Didn’t have to dress out until Jr. High. Didn’t mind that.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Boys had to swim naked @elbanditoroso???

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Dutchess_lll – yes, at my high school. Very weird, but back in the late 1960s… that is what we did,

johnpowell's avatar

I don’t really remember what we did in elementary school. I would have remembered it if it was traumatic.

Jr high we had to wear yellow shorts and a gray t-shirt. But I just got dressed in a bathroom stall. Showering wasn’t required. I just remember running a lot. I don’t remember ever doing any sports. Just running a lot. Stretching and running. I liked running so it wasn’t a big deal.

I only had to do a year of PE in high school. The high school had a PE class called “exercise walking”. So I did that. Exactly how it sounds. We could wear our street clothes and you would just walk around the track for 50 minutes. Nobody was really paying attention so most people just bailed.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Ah…pretty sure your PE teacher was gay. Maybe even a pedophile. People got away with shit like that in the 60s. You never heard about child sexual abuse. It’s like it didn’t even exist. It existed as much then as it does now but people don’t ignore the signs so much any more.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Wait what?! Naked hs boys swimming? Thats not right, fr.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@KNOWITALL at my high school (and I am not going to say where it was) that was the rule. I graduated in ‘72, so we swam naked in gym class from 1969 up until graduation

Dutchess_lll's avatar

What would the reaction have been if a female coach instructed the girls to swim naked? (My HS PE teacher was / is gay but you know…it just hit me. She never came in the locker room when were were showering or changing.)

KNOWITALL's avatar

@elbandit Why would that be naked though?

Seems it would be less streamlined, embarrassing, too. Did you shave your legs, too?
Hs boys have enough boners it sounds weird.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

It IS weird. Coach was probably looking for boners. Seriously.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Dutchess_lll and @KNOWITALL we teenage boys always wondered about the girls, but we never found out.

As for the swimming teacher/gym teacher being gay—I doubt it. From what I remember hearing, this had been school policy for decades, long before we got there (and that teacher was there).

And in the late 60s, I had never heard the word homosexuality – I am sure it existed, but I didn’t know about it at age 17. And the word “gay” came 20 years later..

Dutchess_lll's avatar

We’re close to the same age so I know what you’re talking about. But again, just because we never heard of it doesn’t mean a single thing.
It is a VERY weird policy no matter what.

snowberry's avatar

I will admit that having a school policy of making junior high school boys swim naked is very bizarre. However there may have been a reason for it. This age and older generally do not pick up their things and there is nothing worse smelling than a pile of wet swimsuits that were never hung up to dry.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

No. It’s easy enough to enforce a rule that they had to do whatever with their swim suits.

flutherother's avatar

Changing rooms, shorts, ropes, wooden horses, lots of shouting, not fun.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Swimming naked.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess Yep, freeballin with my boyz, babe. Haha

Can you imagine any scenario women are all topless for school?

Dutchess_lll's avatar

No! If there were it would be obvious what the underlying reason was. But I guess since they were male visual sexual gratification couldn’t possibly be the real reason.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Just to show you I’m telling the truth:

Google the term “High school swim naked”

There are a bunch of articles like this that describe it.

Apparently it was because until the late 1960s, men wore wool swim suits (this was pre-nylon and synthetic materials) and pool filters couldn’t deal with the wool.

According to some the articles, girls WERE clothed.

elbanditoroso's avatar

More history:
IN the 1920s, schools and Young Men’s Christian Associations (YMCAs) built swimming pools for purposes of physical fitness and swimming instruction. Pool chlorination was not available, and there were concerns about disease. In addition, fibers from cotton and wool swimsuits could clog pool filters.[29] Nude swimming allowed for swimmers to be visually inspected to check for open wounds or other signs of infectious disease.[30] In 1926, the American Public Health Association (APHA) standards handbook recommended that indoor swimming pools used by men adopt nude bathing policies and that indoor swimming pools used by women require swimsuits “of the simplest type”.[29] Swimming policies at American high schools and junior high schools were influenced by APHA guidelines.[29] From 1926 until 1962, every edition of the guidelines recommended nude swimming for males.[31] School swimming classes were sex-segregated.[31] For a time, swimming trunks were not permitted in YMCA pools.[32] The October 16, 1950 Life magazine had a large illustration of boys swimming together in the indoor pool of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois; the caption did not mention they were naked.[33]

Nude female swimming was not allowed in most schools, both for modesty reasons and because it would be awkward to accommodate menstruating girls. The Detroit public schools briefly allowed nude female swimming in 1947; this policy was revoked after three weeks due to protests from parents.[34]

New developments like pool chlorination, improved pool filtration, and nylon swimsuits led the APHA to abandon its recommendation of nude pool swimming for males in 1962.[29] However, the custom of enforced nude swimming for males did not immediately cease. In 1961, parents and students in Menasha, Wisconsin asked the school board to give boys permission to wear swim trunks to swimming practice. The board voted down the petition on the grounds that buying swim trunks would be expensive and that nude swimming built men’s character; one board member asserted that ”‘this experience is a good one for later life, for example the armed services, where the disregard for privacy is real and serious’”.[30]

During the 1970s, cultural and legal changes led to the gradual abandonment of enforced nude male swimming in schools. there was a growing backlash against enforced nude male swimming.[29]

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I always believed you @elbanditoroso. Very interesting articles too. Thank you.
My dad apparently never had a problem with the bathing suits he wore so it’s still very.confusing.
Did they swim naked in the Olympics or at swim meets?

jca2's avatar

I just googled High School swim naked and there are lots of articles.

It’s unimaginable today to have kids naked in each others’ presence on a mandatory basis.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

It really is.

Sagacious's avatar

I always loved it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mandatory nude swimming is so wrong on all counts. If there was actually a problem with the cloth clogging up filters, or that they HAD to be inspected for open wounds, then it should have applied to the women as well. But apparently it didn’t. Just the boys.
Someone took massive advantage of their position somewhere.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just watched the video, and I tend to agree. It’s really hard on some kids and the locker room lends to bullying. I stood up to the whole damn girls PE class in the locker room one day when they were bullying a new girl.
They shouldn’t do away with it altogether, but make it an elective. I remember it being an elective and I always signed up for it.

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