I HAD TO GO TO SUMMER SCHOOL FOR GYM CLASS
By: Lauren Anderson
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been thinking of this story a lot lately, so bare with me.
When I was a high school sophomore headed into junior year, I forgot to go to gym. And by “forgot” I mostly mean I skipped gym class everyday to hang out with my friends in the alley behind the school instead. And I know what you’re thinking… no, I wasn’t out there smoking pot…at least not everyday.
But before this story gets sub-categorized as another high school pothead parable, I just want to add that I was also a pretty straight A student (give or take the occasional B—due to lack of effort, not understanding) and I loved high school. I did theatre, I was in choir, student council, and even made it to state on my speech team.
I just hated gym class. I thought it was a waste of time. I guess I figured by the time I was 16, I should be able to account for my own physical education. Twenty years and a fitness journey blog later, I think we can all agree that I was wrong, and clearly I couldn’t… but you try telling that to a know-it-all 16 year old that has better things to do.
The result of missing almost EVERY DAY of gym that year is I was forced to make it up at summer school. Yes, you heard me correct. I had to go to summer school for the first time in my entire life to make up a gym class. Cue face into palm.
My parents were NOT pleased with me. My dad had to pick me up everyday before work, and drop me off at an alternative school in a neighboring city. The kids I went to summer school gym class with were all really kind, really high most of the time, and had really hard stories that brought them there.
One kid was kicked out of his house. One kid had a severe learning disability. One kid just had a baby. One kid was recovering from a recent history of self harm. Then it was my turn to share.
“Hi, I’m a dumb privileged white girl that just decided not to go to literally the easiest class to pass since they only grade you on attendance, because I thought I had better things to do.”
I didn’t say that, but I’m pretty sure that’s what the other kids in my class heard. I distinctly remember them kinda laughing at me, and being like, “That’s so stupid.” And me laughing with them, trying to take my lumps like a good sport. Because after hearing the other kid’s stories, I knew I deserved it.
I was such an idiot. I didn’t even know how easy I had it.
But they say hindsight is 20/20, and admittedly, I learned a lot from that summer school gym class. Not about gym or physical fitness of course, but about a number of other things. The fallout from procrastination, the importance of showing up, the whole “an ounce of preparation equals a pound of cure” idea… just to name a few.
And perhaps the most important lesson of all, is understanding that we all don’t start from the same place, and some of us really benefit from that advantage, and can really easily take it for granted.
Cut to the present day.
I’m a single, white, female with no pets or babies, my own car, and a pretty flexible work schedule. And even with all these advantages, I still struggle to get my butt to gym class. Not because I think I have better things to do anymore, and not because I don’t have the time or the energy, and certainly not because I’m standing in the alley watching my friend’s smoke weed instead.
I just, have trouble getting there. Still. Always.
Even when I ENJOY BEING THERE. Which I do so deeply. Much to the chagrin of coaches and my personal progress, the learning curve on my attendance has been surprisingly steep.
The good news is, I still average about once a week. This is still the most consistent and effective physical fitness I have ever given myself in the history of my life. And I consider that a real WIN.
But I don’t want to just be consistent. I want more. I want more results. More strength. More more more. And I know in order to get that, I have to show up. I have to get it in my system somehow. I have to expand. I have to overcome this gap in my learning, and cultivate better attendance.
So, this last week I went to Solcana 3 times. A modest number, recommended by most physicians, but for me it was a REAL COUP. I think I may have even bragged about it… just a little. Three times in one week is more than I’ve managed to go since November began.
Here’s a few things I noticed:
- The more I went, the easier it became. Yes, the workouts challenged me every day. But I didn’t have to “gear myself up” as much mentally or physically. I felt more ready to move, and more ready to be there, the more I went.
- I was less sore than I thought I’d be. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more I moved the easier it was to move! Probably has something to do with lactic acid or something I’m not qualified to speak about. But there’s a reason Physical Trainers want you up and moving after a surgery. A body in motion stays in motion. Boom boom shake shake the room.
- I could see subtle changes in my body. By the time workout number three rolled around, I already felt different in my body. My pants zipped just a little easier. My muscles felt hard and engaged (a feeling I really really like). I used my inhaler less, despite the cold weather. Even my skin and eyes seemed brighter.
- My mood was significantly better throughout the week. I felt more positive, more engaged, more social. If anything came up in the week that bugged me or bogged me down, I sweated it out at the gym and came out the other side, fresher and more felicitous.
And most importantly, I’ll look to lessons from my past to inform my present.
Back to Summer School Gym Class:
If I just would’ve sucked it up and went to gym class even just 3 out of the 5 school days– I could’ve spent my summer blissfully sleeping in, and eating cereal while watching daytime TV, until I had to go work at the video store.
Why would anyone opt for everyday, early morning summer school gym class, when it would be so much easier to play the occasional broom ball for 45 minutes during the school year? When I had to be there anyway?
In other words, with a little more effort and commitment, and a better understanding of what was best for me—would’ve made my life (and my parents, for that matter) a whole lot easier.
The same is true today.
By going more consistently to the gym, even for just one week, I made my whole life better. And easier. And I didn’t even go crazy and have to go like 8 times or anything. Just a modest, decent amount. Three times. That’s all.
I think I make things harder on myself by not going to the gym.
I think, I think I’m giving myself a pass, but really I’m making everything more difficult. The world is hard enough, why am I going out of my way to make things even harder for myself?
Cause let’s be honest, I’m not skipping the gym because I’m out solving crimes, or curing diseases. I’m skipping class because “I’m tired.” Or, “You deserve to take it easy today.” Which is kind of the adult equivalent of watching your friends smoke pot in the alley. It’s nothing. It’s a time waste. It’s stupid!
Ah! In this moment, writing this, it’s all so clear to me. Why do I always do this?
Why WHY WHY?!?!?
Well, the first answer that comes to mind is the same answer I had all the way back then:
I’m an idiot, and I don’t even know how easy I have it.
But I’m too adult now. That answer doesn’t fly anymore. I need to learn this lesson already!
I don’t want to call myself names, and I don’t want to give myself excuses. I want to use the resources available to me. I want to help me, help myself.
It’s time to do the hard thing, and commit to do the easier thing– if that makes any sense at all.
Because I don’t want to be stuck in Summer School Gym Class for the rest of my life.
It’s time I finally graduate.