Gym class: the often dreaded period of the day. In elementary school, we had these gym class scooters you would propel yourself on by shuffling your feet. There was nothing quite like having your fingers run over by the swivel wheels. And high school? Dodgeball just wasn’t my thing.
My gym class experiences were completely at odds with my after-school participation in recreational, travel and school soccer teams—sometimes all three teams at once, with a different practice each night. My apathy toward gym class had nothing to do with athleticism, and everything to do with, “I don’t feel like doing that.”
But in the last couple of years, more and more schools are allowing students to pick which activity they want to participate in during their gym classes.
At Patriot High School in Virginia, students can choose between football, tennis or jump-rope games. In Washington, DC, public schools, fly-fishing, yoga, archery and even rock climbing are on the roster. One high school offers a class called “Your Personal Fitness,” which allows students to create their own fitness plans. Another has distributed pedometers to all students. In West Virginia, Cameron High School has its own “exergaming room.” It features Xbox Kinect games that require full-body movement, table tennis and arcade-style games.
Gone are the days of forcing students to take the “mile run” or make the terrifying rope-climb in front of their peers. The new voice in physical education is about encouraging students to start at point A and track their personal improvement on the way to point B.
For students lucky enough to attend San Rafael High School near San Francisco, they might find themselves rock climbing, hiking or sailing. But me? I’ll take archery.
Archery is one of the fastest-growing gym class activities in recent years. From Minnesota to Alabama to Pennsylvania, students are enjoying the outdoors and shooting targets, instead of shooting each other looks of exasperation.
If you handed me a compound bow and quiver of arrows in gym class, I might not be Katniss Everdeen, but I might decide to stick around.
Did You Know?
It’s true that archery is flourishing in the United States, exploding in popularity due to the success of The Hunger Games trilogy Looking for an archery club? There are far more out there than you might think.