Nightmares of High School P.E.


When I was entered high school in 1960, there was great pressure to have us be “fit.” President Kennedy stressed regular exercise and the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercises were widely recommended. There were prescribed exercises, one routine for all women and one for all men.

High school gym class was required, and we met every day, dressed down into gym clothes and did group exercises in classes of 30 or so. At the end of every class, we stripped naked and ran through a series of showers back to our lockers to get dressed and on to our next class. If you were having “that time of the month,” you could wear shorts into the shower room. The gym teacher diligently checked off which girls were wearing shorts. I assume she was checking for pregnancy, though she never said. Because I was a late bloomer and not regular, I avoided the teacher’s  attention by copying the cycle of the girl in the locker adjacent to me, wearing shorts each time she needed them.

If you are thinking the whole time was a nightmare, you would be right. This was the memory I took to the gym and first met Paul who needed to understand my present level of fitness before he could begin to work with me. I was questioning my sanity as we began the assessment.

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