Dear Miss Fear…
Please excuse Sarah from PE today.
Miss Fear. That was the name of one of my PE teachers at school – which is kind of funny when you think about it considering my complete and utter phobia of all things ‘physical education’ at school.
My high school was very traditional – girls played netball and hockey, boys played football and rugby. In the summer it was cricket or tennis and on a really wet day we played basketball. I am reliably informed by Jenny, who has kids the right age to know this stuff, that secondary school PE is very different these days. Everything from street dance to mountain biking. Awesome! I can just imagine my 14 year old self rocking up to a Zumba class in my big PE knickers!
Survival of the fittest.
In all seriousness, I actually blame my long standing aversion to exercise (that I’m gradually learning to overcome) on my experience at school. If you didn’t do well at a team sport, it was hard not to feel like a bit of an outcast. PE lessons were more like ‘survival of the fittest’, rather than setting you up for everyday life. I even remember a male PE teacher once describing me publicly as one of the ‘bigger girls in the class’ – not exactly a motivating comment.
You see the thing is, instead of setting me up to find my fit (for keeps), or find a form of exercise that worked for me, I ended up feeling as though PE lessons (and therefore exercise generally) were only for the elite few who excelled in team sports. As a result, I was fairly disengaged with PE at school – I can’t even recall a time when my heart rate increased or my temple broke a sweat. The evening before a PE day was spent persuading my parents to write a note excusing me for one feeble reason or another.
What a wasted opportunity.
Getting fit and staying fit is a universal need. And actually, it has very little to do with how good you are at shooting hoops or navigating a hockey pitch.
Attitudes have evolved considerably since then. The This Girl Can campaign is excellent evidence of that. If I could bottle the emotions I felt when I saw that ad for the first time and give them to my 14 year old self I would. So my new relationship with physical exercise is self-taught. It’s a lifelong learning programme leading to good things both mentally and physically. It’s about inner strength as much as outer muscle. It’s as simple as knowing that moving is better than not moving and eating well does not mean unreasonably restricting your diet.
As the saying goes, I’m not dieting, I’m changing my lifestyle.
Words to live by.