All Of The Twisted Health & Fitness Advice We Got From Gym Class

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Ah, gym class. You either loved it or hated it, and most likely, you despised it. Forced exercise and team-building activities are almost always torturous, especially when you're going through puberty.
No shade at all to gym teachers out there, because they willingly absorb the hellish task of making kids and teens care about their bodies and fitness, so they have to get creative. But despite the best intentions, a lot of information can get skewed. If you really think for a second about the game dodgeball, for example, what jerk decided that pelting balls at your friends and bullies was a good way to teach agility and throwing? These experiences stick with you, and ultimately impact the way you view fitness. Even years later, being in a grown-up group fitness environment can bring up some weird feelings about that time you got lapped by your classmates on the track.
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Luckily, times are a changin', and the gym classes of today hopefully don't look anything like our sometimes painful memories (thanks, Michelle Obama). But lest we all forget, we asked people to share the kookiest activity they did or lesson they learned in gym class growing up, and the games and pull-up tests that still haunt them to this day.
1 of 24

We had to run for an extended period of time for no reason

"We had to do a running test where we had to run for an extended period of time for no reason. If the teacher thought we were shuffling our feet, we had to stop and do it again another day. My teacher said, 'Both feet must be airborne with every stride' during the running test. Do not know why we had to do it, but I know it made lots of girls uncomfortable/pass out."
2 of 24

We had to take all of our clothes off

"In grade school, after we got out of the swimming pool, we had to take all of our clothes off before we went into the locker room. I have no idea of what the intended purpose of that exercise was, other than the gym teacher would follow us around and make sure we didn't have our bathing suits on underneath our towels. Rather strange."
3 of 24

Dodgeball with frisbees

"Dodgeball in second grade — but with frisbees instead of balls. For real. Kids gotta do something for the class period I guess. Every day, I'd tell him [my teacher] I felt sick and wanted to sit out. So every day, he'd say, 'Again?'"
4 of 24

If we sucked in our stomach all day, it counted as exercise

"My middle school gym teacher told us (girls P.E. class) that if we sucked in our stomach all day, it counted as exercise, and we would be more attractive to boys."
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5 of 24

We had to watch WWF wrestling

"Sad, but true. We had to watch WWF wrestling — it was West Virginia public kindergarten. Thanks, mom and dad."
6 of 24

we each took turns and had our 'fat' clamped

"Stand on a scale in front of the class, we each took turns and had our 'fat' clamped in order to get our BMIs. We were learning about BMIs in the health class portion of our gym class. (I went to a Catholic high school, so instead of sex ed, we did this.) [My teacher] told me that she'd like to see me gain some weight...as I was apparently below average on the BMI. In front of the whole class, where she wrote my BMI on the board as an example of someone who was malnourished... She also would ask me what I ate for lunch randomly for the rest of the semester. My lunches always included candy and bagels in high school, so I was constantly informed how unhealthy that was."

Ed note: For the record, BMI (or body mass index) is an incredibly flawed metric, because it hardly takes any other information about your body (like muscle) into account.
7 of 24

Square dancing

"Square dancing. Realistically, there was no purpose except to pair you up with someone of the opposite sex and make you feel awkward. My gym teacher (who was also my health teacher) also told me that taking Plan B more than once would make you infertile for life."

Ed note: There is no evidence that taking Plan B (or any other emergency contraceptive) will lead to infertility.
8 of 24

Running with your hands cupped

"We had to run for a half hour to test our ability to run long distances. My teacher told me that running with your hands cupped helps push away the air and makes you run faster."
9 of 24

Take a lap

"I remember having to 'take a lap' as punishment, which is so weird because now I'm a runner and I'd loved to have 'taken a lap,' rather than play dodgeball."
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10 of 24

try to make a basket with everyone watching

"In general, playing any sport that required a lot of skill, like baseball, was just embarrassing and dumb, because obviously I wasn't going to hit that ball. We also had to do that with basketball, but instead of playing an actual game, we just had to stand in a line and try to make a basket with everyone watching. It was a lot of stuff based on shame. The point was pretty much 'to embarrass' anyone who'd rather be reading a book. Also, I feel like all of these activities were just geared to make the boys happy."
11 of 24

A lot of pull-ups

"The President's fitness challenge. I'm not quite sure what the point was, but it involved a lot of pull-ups that I could not do."
12 of 24

Balancing a peacock feather on the tip of my finger

"Balancing a peacock feather on the tip of my finger (look at the eye! it works!). It was for concentration? Balance?"
13 of 24

My gym teacher told me that I have chubby hands

"My gym teacher told me that I have chubby hands, because I couldn't do the monkey bars :("
14 of 24

the boys and girls were separated

"In fifth grade, one period doubled as both health and P.E., depending on the day of the week. One day, the boys and girls were separated. The girls learned about puberty and menstruation. The boys played basketball. It was to shield boys from the squicky, disgusting truth about their female peers, I guess? In one health class, a teacher started talking about 'mammalary glands.' Bless his heart, he stood by his guns, explaining to me that, 'They're called that because only mammals have them.'"
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15 of 24

The electric slide

"We had to do the electric slide. It was part of the dance unit. It was pretty fun. I was into it."
16 of 24

Perform as many push-ups in two minutes

"I mean, what wasn't strange in gym class? The only time I ever enjoyed gym was when I had my period and used that as an excuse to go sit in the library. We had these Presidential Physical Fitness Tests each year in high school that I just dreaded. One of the tests was to perform as many push-ups [as possible] in two minutes. I had a middle-aged male gym teacher, and while I was doing my push-ups, I remember he came over to me and said, 'You have really amazing back muscle definition.' I was forever creeped out by that, especially since I was wearing an oversized T-shirt and had NO IDEA how he could possibly tell what the structure of my back was like. I was also the least athletic girl in my class (I was a proud art weirdo)."
17 of 24

Running in underwear-like briefs

"I ran track competitively throughout college and high school. While my uniforms varied, I was often forced in college to wear 'buns.' This means basically running in underwear-like briefs. The men ran in loose-fitting shorts, while we were mandated to wear the bare-it-all buns. To top it all off, they read our college name across the ass. SEXISM SUCKS. The intended purpose was to be aerodynamic and fast.... but when you're a long-distance runner, this made a lot less sense to me. My coaches, male or female, said that wearing buns/baring it all was a show of confidence and that all the 'legit' women did it..."
18 of 24

Do kegels

"Hands-down, the weirdest thing I learned in high school PE: how to do kegels! My teacher had us all sit down and do them together."
19 of 24

Measure our BMI

"Measure our BMI in, like, fifth grade to promote activity and a healthy lifestyle (I guess). The girls in my class were comparing and bragging about theirs, and if your number was too high, you were 'fat' or 'so unhealthy.' All of a sudden, there was something for me to worry about and obsess over that I had no idea existed before. That shit STAYED with me for a while."
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20 of 24

one person goes flying in the air

"We did this thing where one person is in a harness, and the rest of class runs the other direction, and the one person goes flying in the air. We had a big rock wall and you would jump off to get a trapeze in a full, three story-high field house in a harness that could not have been safe at all. Looking back, pretty alarming."
21 of 24

Throw balls at people

"Jail bombardment. You throw balls at people, and then if they hit you, you have to go to 'jail.' And then you sit for the rest of gym class, because somebody nailed you."
22 of 24

Run sprints on the track barefoot

"I had to run sprints on the track barefoot to improve foot sensitivity. Literally barefoot and jump off bleachers and land on my feet in our field house because 'shoes have made our feet weak.'"
23 of 24

an hour-long frisbee throwing tutorial

"My sixth grade P.E. teachers made me stay after school to do an hour-long frisbee throwing tutorial."
24 of 24

We used to do 'Indiana Jones Day'

"We used to do 'Indiana Jones Day' where the teachers would set up an obstacle course in the gym, and you swung from the ropes to hit a wall of blocks, and you would get timed to see how long it would take you."
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