Just do it (without sweating)

Last night, I got into a conversation with some moms of girls in eighth grade who were from different towns. The discussion was about their schools’ gym classes and the fact that kids no longer change into “gym clothes”.
After having a brief, yet horrifying, flashback to the ugly one-piece, zip-up gym uniform that I wore in sixth and seventh grade, I realized what they were saying: Kids in gym wear their “everyday” clothes from class, to gym, to class again. No peeling off sweaty tees, or removing wet gym socks, and certainly no quick shower on super-hot days.
I realize that Time In The Classroom is seen as sacred nowadays but I also think this is an interesting message to send tweens: Exercise is important, but if you don’t want to stink up your entire biology class, you’d best take it easy. 
Sure, many kids play very competitive sports after school, often meeting every day of the school week. But, what about those kids who get very little physical activity, or kids at risk for obesity?

Or maybe gym class meets so infrequently nowadays that no one really believes it makes much of a difference.

Did you used to change for gym class? I honestly can’t remember much about junior high/high school, but know we did through middle school. I also remember having to take swimming in first period of eighth grade which was a horror show for all girls who were wearing non-waterproof black eyeliner. Yes, that would include me.


  1. I remember changing in middle and high school.

    My girls do not change at school for gym. The wear their gym uniform all day.

  2. My tween and teens changes for gym.No uniforms,thankfully…just regular shorts & a tshirt 😉

  3. Oh those uniforms were horrible, weren't they? I wish I still had mine to show to my daughter!

    My DD is only in 2nd grade, where they don't change for PE (once every 4 school days), but I didn't change at that age either. I think it started in middle school, I don't recall locker rooms before 6th grade (and I know my DD's K-5 doesn't have them.) I'm curious now what the policy is at our middle school.

  4. Oh, ick, I obviously wore the same type of uniform you did.

    My kids have changed out for gym since 7th grade. The uniforms are shorts and a shirt (both branded with the school's name).

    I remember having to do the showers. Blech. But, guess what, no showering nowadays, at least not in my daughter's middle school or where my son has just started in high school. Here's hoping they bring home those rank gym clothes for washing every week.

  5. Our county gym is in the same facility as the middle school gym, and the kids in there all appear to be wearing their street clothes and shoes.

    Of course, they aren't doing anything that causes them to sweat, either. The gym class seems to consist of a lot of throwing balls around, but not much actual movement. There are so many kids that nobody has to move far to get the ball. I've seen them run laps very rarely, but at most they run 1/4 mile.

  6. Heather@CritterChronicles says

    We began changing for gym in middle school (it was 7th grade for me but 6th grade now) and I distinctly remember this because when I began my 89th grade year in a brand new middle school I forgot my gym clothes at the beginning of the year and got detention. It was the only detention I ever earned, and highly traumatic. 😉

    We changed in high school too but given that I graduated in '98 I have no clue whether that still happens. It's pretty sad that kids aren't required to work up a sweat anymore. I didn't play sports as a kid (just tennis in high school) and PE was my only real exercise other than riding my bike outside once in awhile, though I played outside all the time. I can imagine that this is the same for a lot of kids.

  7. Oh, thanks for the HORRIBLE FLASHBACK. We started in middle school with those insanely ugly zip-up onesies; and I was the only one without boobs and in need of a bra, so then began my lifelong body-image issues…

    HS we had to wear shorts and a Tshirt and could shower as needed, although no one ever did. Powder and deod go a long way.

    For jr high swim, I don't remember the eyeliner– I remember the mad dash of 15 girls to dry one's hair and use a curling iron in 10 minutes.

  8. Gad, I had forgotten that until now. On the plus side, there's no feeling like the gym teacher is leering at you while you are changing.

    My kids are in elem, still, but they are expected to wear sneakers and track pants on their PE days. I don't think the MS has a changing policy. I hadn't even thought of that.

    I hear what you are saying about activity vs. time on learning, but I'd just as soon avoid further humilation at the hands of my better developed / more sophisticated peers.

  9. I don't remember having to change for gym but if I did it was just to shorts and a t-shirt and then back to street clothes, we definitely didn't have uniforms or showers.

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  10. Goddess in Progress says

    I totally agree, what a mixed message!

    We had to change in middle and high school. The uniform was just t-shirt and shorts, though I seem to remember the shorts being a rather uncomfortable too-short polyester. But we had gym EVERY DAY ALL YEAR, for all four years of high school. The only exception was one semester of "health" instead of gym, and varsity athletes were allowed to do study hall instead of gym when their sport was in season.

    Public education makes me so sad right now. I'm all about strong academics, but with the testing and the lack of funds, it's terrible how little activity and variety there is.

  11. I changed for gym in middle school and high school. No uniform though – just shorts and a T-shirt. Showers were available in the locker room, but I don't remember anyone using them. Like Mrs. Q, we just relied on powder and deodorant. My kids are in elementary school, so I'm not sure what the deal is in middle school and high school in my town, but now I'm curious. I'll have to ask my neighbors with older kids!

  12. we used to have to change. I think taking traditional gym class made me abhor any kind of exercise for the first 38 years of my life. Being a kid that wasn't athletically gifted, gym class was a nightmare. I truly think I would have been a healthier person if I had not gone to gym class at all, maybe then I would have learned to actually enjoy moving – something I am just now realizing is possible.

  13. we even took showers in jr high! i was so embarassed i handed out towels and showered after all others.

  14. Nan | WrathOfMom says

    Heheh. I love that you have a label called "The Outside World."

    We did change for gym, but just into any ol' pair of short or t-shirt. No one ever showered. This was the case from grade 1 til 12. Keep in mind, I'm Canadian and OLD so this information is likely passe now.

    I wonder if the issue isn't simply time-management, but one of public safety. Cell phone camera + girls' change rooms + underage children = possible lawsuit if that winds up on the internet.

  15. Amy Flanagan says

    I remember those one piece outfits! My 6th grader now has no gym since he is in band and art. I wish I had made him stay on the soccer team. He used to spend hours running around the backyard. Did not see this coming.
    I agree. They should respect the importance of exercise.

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