Friday, July 31, 2009

Patch-work memories

This week, for whatever reason, I've found myself taking quite a few strolls down memory lane (I have no idea how many calories that burns). A couple of days ago I was thinking back to junior high school gym class. Now I know the words "gym" and "class" in succession strike terror into a lot of people, but I rather enjoyed those classes.

I'm sure academics were stressed, too, at the junior high I attended in Indiana, but what I remember most was the gleaming new fieldhouse where our gym classes were held. It was a place of activity and excitement. Walkers, joggers and runners vied for position on the track; the trampolines at the center erupted with tumbling bodies; and thick ropes dangled from the ceiling, holding climbers in various states of ascent.

I also remember a girl named Linda, who was sort of the female Bruce Jenner of our class: you name it, and she could perform it, catch it, throw it or lift it better than anyone else.

All of us had to wear one-piece, navy-blue gym suits that weren't very attractive, but Linda always looked sharp in hers. That's because her suit contained a lot of those patches from the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Remember those?

I think I managed to earn one or two of the patches, but my navy-blue gym suit was still largely a sea of blue.

Anyway, while thinking about Linda and her patches, I got to wondering whether that program still existed. I have no children, but my understanding is that many cash-strapped schools have cut out physical education programs entirely.

To my surprise, I found out that the program does still exist, and you don't need to be a 13-year-old in a hideous gym suit to participate.

Called the President's Challenge, the program lets you register, pick an activity, and track your progress in that activity as you work your way toward an award. You can challenge friends or family, or just yourself. You can find the details here.

I don't know about you, but I love challenges and rewards, and think they can be powerful motivators. Of course feeling fit and healthy is the best reward of all.


  1. I had a one-piece green, elastic-leg gym suit passed down from my older sisters. I was styling (not). I remember finally getting the presidential award in 6th grade and it also came with a certificate, which my parents hung on our dining room wall for many years. The biggest highlight of my childhood.

  2. I remember those awful gym suits! I think they turned a lot of girls off from gym. Never got any badges, though. Sigh.

  3. I think those faded out of popularity before my generation entered any gym class.

  4. You're lucky, BG! And Esther, as I mentioned above, you can still get one. It's never too late!

  5. Don't remember any badges but gawd I remember those blue one-piece gym suits!