Gym Class Ruined Sports For Me
I am not a huge fan of sports or exercise. There, I said it. There were times in my life when I enjoyed being more active, but most of the time, I rather avoid any sort of physical exercise. I don’t deny the importance of moderate exercise, but I also think that there are more exciting things in life to do than do something that you hate. But why would I hate exercise? Gosh, there are so many reasons for that, but I think the main one is: gym class.
Were you the fat kid at school? Were you the chubby short chick that wasn’t great at running, or jumping? No? Then you might not be able to relate to this. For us, the fat kids, the ones that were not necessarily understood as physically able, gym class was almost traumatizing. It was the perfect ground for bullying, for being shown how inadequate you are. And you know what? Gym class did not prepare for me life. Other than that it taught me that I am unwanted, that my body type is not normal and that it is okay to laugh and point at those that fail.
My view of sports got affected by gym class at school, especially during my teenage years when I felt awkward about my body anyway. Up until I was about 12 years old, I loved swimming, I loved being in water, to swim for hours, dive. I come from a town by the Baltic Sea so my summers were spent at the beach, in the water, with friends. I even joined a swimteam when I was 7 years old and I won some competitions. But as I grew older, the bullying about my body shape got worse, and I eventually (and still do) felt very uncomfortable being in swim wear around others. So I stopped doing the one sport activity that I enjoyed.
Gym class at school sucked. I always got picked last. No one wanted me on their team because they assumed I would fail them. And if someone ended up with me on their team, I was the one sitting on the bench. I was bad at gymnastics. I mean, chubby short girl jumping over stuff? Holding on to rings? Climbing up ropes? I tried in the beginning, I really did. But already as a child, my fellow class mates laughed at me. When I was 8 years old I had to go to special gym class because I had the lowest grade among everyone.
The older I got, the smarter I became at avoiding gym class. I admit that I sucked at sports. I would have taken the bad grade. But I couldn’t stand the bullying anymore. The laughing. The name calling. Another overweight girl from my class was lucky enough to get a paper from her doctor saying that gym class was bad for her well-being and anxiety and she should be allowed to skip it. And she was allowed to do so. I was so jealous!
So what did I do? I came up with all sorts of excuses and tricks. If we were out running tracks, I walked the tracks and listened to music. When we were out running in the forest, I took a short cut and smoked a cigarette. I was wearing a fake bandage all over my left arm for about three months, saying I severely burnt myself. Sometimes I said I had bad period cramps. a cold, allergies. I tried everything. Sometimes I just didn’t go at all. As a matter of fact, I almost didn’t graduate from high school because of low attendance at gym class. I had A’s in all the major subjects, I am great at academia. But fucking sports almost put an end to any further studies for me. (I eventually begged my gym teacher to give me at least 1 point, and he did!).
And Then I Exercised
So gym class ruined sports for me, and team sports even more so. I didn’t want to play with others, at all. I connected it with bullying, being humiliated, and disappointing others. It was first in my late 20s, that I took up exercise. It wasn’t really free of choice. I had to lose some weight for health reasons. So I did. I exercised an hour every day. For over two years. Now, you might think that is extreme. But if you have two hormonal illnesses that make you overweight and slow down your metabolism, that is the amount of exercise you need to do just to keep your weight. Unfair, isn’t it? But I did it.
And I hated every minute of it. I cried through it. And I never got an adrenaline rush out of it. I didn’t feel better after. I picked something that I could do at home (I had an exercise bike and some other equipment), without anyone being around to laugh at me or judge me. Still, I hated every minute of it. I took it as a necessary evil, something I had to do to stay healthy. Up until it was suggested to me that exercising that much while eating only around 1000 calories a day apparently is disorderly.
A declining mental health and months on end spent at the hospital meant that I lost my exercise routines. And with psychiatric medication making me gain a lot of weight again, took my motivation to exercise away from me to try again. Add to that chronic neurological issues caused by said medication that make exercising almost torturous, and the chronic fatigue I am experiencing, exercise is not on the plan for me.
Well, at least not the sort of exercise that I used to do, or that others would classify as exercise. I take walks when I can. Some days a 10 minute walk is almost too much for me, other days, I can walk for a couple of hours. I don’t see it as exercise as much as trying to stay active with the capacities that I have. Chronic fatigue really makes it hard to decide to put that little energy that you have into exercise, especially if I might have to pay for it later by having lost all my spoons.
I get that exercise is supposed to be good for you. And for some people, team sports are fun. And I know that even some fat people enjoy sports. I respect that. But for me, gym class ruined any remotely positive approach towards sports and exercising. And even when I exercised, it was always just a chore, something I hated but had to do. I will never be a sporty person. And that is okay. No one is great at everything.