Gym Class Heroes & Zeroes

A few months ago, some of my coworkers and I were talking about the hellish experience of gym class. Don’t get me wrong, I was always down for a good game dodge ball, as I could always control my level of engagement (or lack thereof) by shielding myself behind my more ambitious classmates (AKA goddamn gym class heroes). But probably around middle school is where I started to realize gym class was just not for me.

Which is unfortunate, because I had five-ish more years of gym class to suffer through.

So, now that school is starting up again, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit some of the worst times of my life that have truly shaped me into the damaged human that I am.

Without further ado, here’s my list of the top 4 most hellish gym class units of ALL TIME.

The name is SELF-EXPLANATORY. When I was in middle school, it wasn’t called gymnastics, it was called “tumbling,” and rest assured, I took the name of the unit as literally as I could. When it came to sports, my family was more about basketball and baseball/softball一 therefore, I was never signed-up for gymnastics lessons.

Therefore, the tumbling unit was a certain type of hell for me.

Our gym teachers* during this unit always pulled out these giant, old posters that had displayed different moves we could “try.” A tripod, in theory, looks easy enough to pull off. But when you weren’t #blessed with the balance and grace of an Olympic gymnast (or any balance or grace for that matter), you do a lot of… tumbling.

The icing on the cake was that, by the end of the unit, we needed to put together a routine. It’s what we were graded on.

What was my routine, you ask? A series of somersaults. AKA the easiest (?) move that had the least amount of points. Passed with C. My mother has never been prouder of me.

*Let the record show that these teachers never demonstrated the aforementioned moves for us. If they couldn’t perform the moves, was it fair to to expect lil sixth graders to do them? #QuestionsTheKeepMeUpAtNight #NeverForget

Not to brag, but I was a bit of a slugger back in the day. I also enjoy watching baseball, as it’s one of the few sports where I actually understand the rules of the game. So why is this gym unit on here? Because the unit was in the spring, and spring in Wisconsin is one of two things: really cold/still snowy or warm/rainy/muddy. There is no in between.

But the real reason that this is on here is because somehow I always ended up stuck in the outfield, and somehow the stoners or the don’t-give-a-shitters ALWAYS ended up out there with me.

You know how this is going to go.

Picture this: a junior-year me, chillin’ out in left-field, enjoying my life. The two gentlemen who didn’t give a shit about gym class were in center-field and right-field. A ball got hit RIGHT between the two guys. Neither of them make a play for the ball. I obviously don’t go for it because I was the FARTHEST away from the ball.

So obviously it’s my fault.

“Get on your horse, Miss Stevens!” my teacher would shout. So I had to run to field a ball that wasn’t even close to me while those two bozos stood there, picking at the laces on their gloves.

What a time to be alive, am I right?

My high school didn’t have a pool, so thankfully I wasn’t subjected to class swim lessons. Still, I empathize with those who weren’t as fortunate as me. For those who suffered, I salute you.

The Pacer
I don’t remember this particular hell in high school, but it did happen twice a year in middle school. There was no advance warning, either, so kids couldn’t have their parents call them in sick.

You know that scene in The Hunger Games when Katniss is in that weird tube thing, and she’s being brought up into the arena? And then there’s the countdown to the start of the games?

That’s basically what if felt like when you were waiting for the Pacer to start.

For those of you lucky bastards who don’t know what the Pacer is, it’s when a bunch of middle school punks line up along the sideline of the basketball court and run the width of the court while music is playing. When there’s a BEEP in the music, that’s when you run. As you keep going, the time in between each beep gets shorter and shorter and shorter, until you’re suddenly sprinting and hating everything about your pubescent life.

I think I occasionally scored in the 70s if I was really trying (which usually I was because at that age I was a people-pleaser… even in gym class), and it would result in me wheezing up a lung by the time 6th hour rolled around. Nostalgia is hitting my real hard right now.

So, here’s to the gym class ZEROS out there (myself included). To those still in school, please learn from my mistakes and DO NOT use your classmates as a human shield during a dodgeball game. If you let yourself get hit with the ball right away, you can just chill on the sidelines and focus on more important things (like lunch).

Which gym class units did you dread (or love, I guess I shouldn’t be all about the hate)?


4 thoughts on “Gym Class Heroes & Zeroes

  1. I had the luck of having most of my gym classes as a free time because I could just sit there on the side of the court while the people who really liked to do sports would play 😆

  2. You sure didn’t seem like a zero when you collided with and sent me crashing to the floor in roller blade hockey freshman year…I think you missed your calling out on the ice.


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