Gym Participation

Throughout our education students are constantly told that gym and exercise is important. There are multiple programs telling us that activity will lead to health and happiness or at least some kind of intrinsic reward.

If someone is asked if gym is useful they will probably say “yes”, but if one wanders into one of the two gyms here at West, it is likely that they will not be surprised to see people sitting out, not participating to their fullest extent, or simply failing to show up.

Zach Buch, a senior in the school through the arts program, estimated that 70 to 80 percent of a class is likely to sit out at any given time. Jianny Guzman, junior, offered a different perspective saying that most of the sit outs “were the girls who don’t like to do anything.”

An attempt to clarify this with Nick Valentine, another junior, had him agreeing with Guzman’s statement about the gender ratio appearing to be skewed towards girls, but also lumped them with boys that sat out under the single succinct description of “bored people.” Interestingly enough both Valentine and Buch answered, “yes” when asked if the believed gym was worthwhile and denied taking it for an easy grade.

In contrast when Guzman was asked her opinion on gym, she laughed and said, “think It’s useless, I don’t think we should really need it for credit to graduate.” She also had no trouble agreeing that she took the two gym classes mostly for the comparatively easier grades.

Despite these differences, they all agreed that the school could do more to increase joy in gym exercises. Guzman suggested more activities, while both boys suggested getting better gym teachers somehow. Somewhat depressing but perhaps unsurprisingly, all three of them replied “no” when asked if they liked their gym teachers. Some of them went on to express that actually hated their gym teachers. Possibly explaining why Zach, Jianny, and Nick all said that they would not take gym if they did not have to.

In the end it is not surprising that there is not much interest in gym. Most of the main sports are covered in after school activities and usually do not get much time to play anything particular unless you take a class specifically for it. Leaving the generalized classes full of people who were not entirely sure what they wanted out of a gym class but with a sneaking suspicion that it was not running in circles.

Add that with not having the most likeable of gym teachers and you get the class where motivation goes to die. Out of the three people interviewed, only Zach had never sat out during gym. Nick estimated that he had sat out one third of his total time in gym. Jianny however guessed that there were only eight times in which she sat out. All of them said they were not athletic.

In the end what you get out of gym is what you are willing to deal with and how much effort you are willing to put into it.