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Life Lessons

Why Gym Class Is the Most Important

You’ve seen the caricature of the gym teacher, a muscle-bound specimen who can’t even hold his clipboard right side up.

A friend of mine, himself a gym teacher, doesn’t fit the stereotype and doesn’t want to. He recently had to sound off when visiting another school. The admissions people boasted that they didn’t pay much attention to phys ed, and my friend spoke up.

“I can tell you everything you need to know about a kid within five minutes after they come into the gym,” he said.

He’s right, and that means a lot in a world where high schools, colleges and businesses must make decisions on applicants. Where do you get the truest sense of a person?

Perhaps in gym class.

Gym has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with attitude. In gym class, you quickly reveal a great deal about yourself: the level of your effort, your willingness to take instruction, your persistence, your reaction to failure, your attitude toward others, the way you handle activities that you don’t like.

As in anything in life, you can do what is expected, more than expected, or less than expected. You choose the standards. You can choose excellence, motivation, positivity. Or you can choose the opposite.

Of course, gym teachers reveal a lot about themselves as well. They choose whether gym class will foster health or become an athletic showcase. They can make their activities inclusive or exclusive. Their choice.

If you want to know about a school, a teacher or a student-athlete, the physics lab or the music room will tell you something. But nothing will give the picture that a gym class will.

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Would you like to improve at what you do? “The Improvement Factor: How Winners Turn Practice into Success” can show you how! Are you a coach? “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” can make you a better one. Looking for motivation? Read “Thank God You’re Lazy!: The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back.” Want a companion for your season? Listen to “How to Survive Your Sports Season.”


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