Don’t let the past haunt you – you are in control of your own life and it’s never too late to make a healthy lifestyle change.
When I look back at PE lessons in school I shudder. I would have done anything including running errands for the headmaster or gardening to get out of PE, especially team sports. I loathed having to run around in the cold wearing next to nothing and never achieving anything.
I excelled in academic subjects but unlike children who were less able at maths and science, the less naturally talented among us were not given support to help us to improve. On the contrary, they would avoid pupils such as me and concentrate their energies on coaching “team material”. I was fortunate in that, although I wasn’t ever going to win medals, I wasn’t one of the worst, so I was spared the humiliation of being the last one picked for the team.
When I think back the PE teachers used to get away with the most vindictive, verging on sadistic behaviour. And I am not talking about school in the sixties but the late eighties and early nineties when teachers of other subjects were expected to treat all pupils fairly regardless of their ability.
However, it wasn’t all bad; I enjoyed and felt quite confident at dance, gymnastics and any individual activity that was not competitive. Now I realise that I needed an opportunity to set my own personal goals without having to endure the humiliation of letting the team down. But by this point I had been written off as not sporty and because the school didn’t have teams for these activities my talents were never recognised or encouraged. Because I had been written off, consequently I wrote myself off and I left school relieved at never having to do another hour of enforced team sports again.
I feel quite angry in a sense that due to the attitude of such PE teachers many people have left school over the years permanently scarred by their experiences of PE. Consequently, these negative experiences have resulted in them shying away from physical activities because they don’t feel that it is their “thing”. In essence these teachers from the past have a dramatic impact on our current and ultimate state of health. This is a disgrace when so much NHS money is spent every year on diseases such as heart disease and obesity which could have been prevented if people had left school with the desire to continue some form of sport.
So today am I a couch potato? On the contrary, since moving to Spain I have embraced a more outdoor lifestyle and have discovered a passion for walking and even running.I try to at least walk for an hour a day and attend Pilates classes 3 times a week. Although, I am still not a big team player, I enjoy regular games of padel and I have tailored an exercise programme which is not a chore but a pleasure which benefits both my physical and mental well being. I wish my PE teachers could see me now. I bet I could beat even some of the sportiest of the school team members in terms of stamina. Of course, living in Spain does make it more possible because of the weather and the scope for walking and running routes both country and beachside.
I could have written myself off for the rest of my life but I am glad that I finally managed to extract myself from the pigeon hole that I had been placed in all those years ago. Parents and teachers alike should expose children to a variety of sporting activities to allow them to select what they enjoy. The aim should be to discover and develop your strengths and not be cast aside just because you have some weaknesses.