Do you remember being a kid and having to take the Presidential Physical Fitness Test? I remember this was a time of much anxiety for so many students. I mean you are basically tested against your peers, and yourself, to see how physically fit you are. The test, largely set up as a source for motivating kids to lead healthy and active lives, is really, in a sense, a benchmarking tool to measure physical “aptitude” among age groups.
While most of my friends groaned when this time rolled around each year I secretly looked forward to trying to beat my previous year’s scores. I remember those days vividly…we didn’t have a track at my elementary school, so for the mile run we had to run a few times around the huge field where the playground, softball field and basketball courts were placed. That one mile seemed to go on forever which makes me chuckle thinking about how quick one mile is to me today. My goal was always to keep pace with the “fast” boy runners. I was able to for a decent amount of the run but always lagged behind at some point. Yet, I still managed to be one of the quicker girls in my class (I owe that to playing soccer) which was pretty cool.
I liked the shuttle run (we had to pick up erasers) but I always got a little nervous since the whole class watched as you sprint raced against another person. Curl ups were a cinch. I disliked the sit and reach because I was not flexible and it frustrated me because that was the one test that was supposed to be easy for the girls. Then came the pull-ups or the flexed arm hang that you could do instead (but if I recall you could only get the national award by choosing that path). I hated pull-ups and year after year they kept me from getting that pesky presidential award. I was just one pull-up shy which should have been nothing since I only had to do two. It just did not make sense to me how the skinny middle school boys could do dozens and I just could not get past one. It was so frustrating to me! I was so resolute on getting that award that one day I just told myself, “you WILL do this.” Sure enough with a little bit of a running leap to the pull-up bar I miraculously pulled my small eighth grade frame over the bar twice. And alas, at graduation I had that certificate and blue patch to prove to myself that it could be done.
It’s funny how something seemingly as little a deal as this physical fitness challenge could have such a huge bearing on shaping my competitive spirit within. I still have that little girl within me with great visions of accomplishing dreams and pushing myself to levels that I once never believed I could accomplish.