Inclusivity? Nope. Humiliation? Yes. How did we get here?

Dec 20, 2021

 by Hannah Bouldin

Our daughter took Online Gym this semester. Her final was an online exam and an in-person fitness test. She had to run a mile in 10 minutes or less, do 10 push ups, and sit/reach. Mind you - they never had any fitness instruction in person before this test. 

They were not allowed to do any modifications for the push ups - so no knees. I've always taught our daughter to drop to her knees as I'd rather she have great form and get full range of motion while doing the push ups from her knees than horrible form and only moving an inch or so while doing the push ups on her toes. For her fitness test, she had to lower down to a sensor and then push back up. Our daughter was understandably very angry that her friends with big boobs had a much easier time hitting the sensor than she did!  As it turned out, she was only able to actually do one push up. 

This unhealthy culture is part of the reason why women are so intimidated by exercise and fitness, and why I created FabYOUlous Fitness. Being made to feel that you aren’t good enough, especially in front of others, is humiliating. Instead of creating an all inclusive environment where the “one size fits all” model is thrown out the window, there’s a “this is the only one way to do this and if it doesn’t work for you, too bad” mentality. So not only do you leave feeling humiliated, but your grade is based on your performance.  And now you also have an aversion to making any further attempts to become more physically fit.

Do we have an obesity problem in this country? Yes. But does forcing high school students to do push ups on their toes instead of their knees solve that problem? Not even close! In fact, it discourages said students from continuing to exercise because they will do anything to avoid humiliation. They’ve pretty much been told they’re no good at it. How many adults do you know that would voluntarily put themselves in that situation? Not very many of us, right? So when it comes to high school students, it’s definitely not happening.

I’d love to see more fitness in schools for many reasons, but the two biggest reasons are teaching children from a young age that exercise is an important part of physical and mental health. Once children hit middle school, there’s basically no more physical activity during the school day unless they have gym that semester. It baffles my mind that there can be standards placed on how many push ups a student can do in order to get a certain grade, but they’re not being taught how or asked to do the work it takes to be able do such things. 

Imagine the changes we’d see in our children if the school day had 30-45 minutes of fitness activity for grades 6-12 before their classes started! Short term I believe we’d see increased productivity, energy, and focus, and long term I believe we’d see our children learning how to have a healthy relationship with fitness and their bodies, how to make exercise a part of their daily lives, and how this can benefit them for the rest of their lives. The obesity problem wouldn’t vanish unless other changes were made, but adding in 30-45 minutes of fitness activity daily or even 3 days each week, certainly wouldn’t hurt.