The Onion had a story about the majority of Americans forgetting their physical education skills. Naturally, being The Onion, there’s a fair amount of ridiculousness:
Many Americans claimed that once they finished high school, skills such as increasing joint mobility and building muscle strength were no longer necessary.
“If something needs to get from one place to another, I can just use my cell phone, or hop in the car. And I know they say that physical education promotes balance, but that’s what my cane is for,” said Miami, FL resident Keith Monahan, 32. “The only thing I still use from gym class is that occasionally I’ll throw on some sweatpants while I’m sitting on the couch watching television. So I guess I learned that.”
Omaha insurance salesman William Haylor, 43, said that when his 8-year-old son asked him how to do a chin-up, he realized that he had simply forgotten.
“I know I used to be able to do that, but for the life of me I can’t remember,” Haylor said. “They’re really hard to do. I think that’s why I stopped.”
On the other hand, I’m wondering what kind of PE class would encourage people to be active. I don’t mean “make everyone into the cast of Baywatch” or “everyone should be able to breeze through boot camp”, either — more like reducing things like back pain, increasing mobility within one’s current limitations, and Health at Every Size.
What makes movement / exercise / fitness fun for you? If you’re a parent, do you try to encourage your kids to move?
Here’s a start:
My favorite PE class was in high school. The teacher stated at the outset that he graded on effort and participation, and he restated this after some varsity starters complained about getting Cs. We rotated through different sports and activities, spending 2 weeks on pickleball, 2 weeks on volleyball, 2 weeks on soccer, 2 weeks on basketball, and so on, so at least we got a good variety. The teacher also pointed out skills that transferred across sports, such as the similarity between defense in soccer and basketball. He also used a variety of ways to divide us up into teams, including counting off and picking captains who would pick teams (but always intervening and dividing the last 6 himself). For sports where he knew some people were very practiced, like basketball, he’d have everyone who regularly played on a team (school or recreational) play together on half the gym and have the people who were new to playing the sport play against each other on the other half.
Most importantly, he told us that he didn’t take the PE job as a way to coach football, but because he loved to play, and he wanted us to play too. That attitude came through in how he ran his class and made us happy to be there.
How would I have improved that? I wouldn’t have minded a yoga segment. :) But another would’ve been to do some weight lifting and discuss muscle balance and how to prevent things like back pain — it’s a scrouge among desk types, but that’s because crunches are seen as punishment, not as the back equivalent of flossing.
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