P.E. in the 80’s

Remember Physical Education or P.E. in the 80’s? There was dodgeball, the shuttle run, climbing the rope, and various other activities that are probably more fun to look back on then they were to do. In the 80’s, P.E. was mandatory and gym class was either something you looked forward to or something you dreaded. Here are a few highlights: 

  • School fitness in the 80’s was all about testing for strength. We often did sit-ups, pull-ups, and flexed arm hangs for upper body strength that was used to determine our core strength. It was all about staying active and fit. Can you recall how many sit-ups you did or how long you could do a flexed arm hang?
  • Dodgeball was not for the faint of heart. Recall how hard those rubber balls were? There was no way around it, no matter how good you were, everyone was going to take a hit. Being pelted was no fun and if someone was out to get you, well, lookout. It was ruthless. 
  • Red-Rover-Red-Rover was a classic P.E. game where you’d send a friend over to the opposing side to break through the human chain. If you got through you could take someone with you back to your side but if you didn’t get through, you were added to their side. This game was all about agility, strategy, and strength-not to mention an amazing chant that we will never forget.
  • Ever end up the last picked for a team? Most of us did at some point. Team sports like basketball, baseball, and kickball always had team captains who would handpick their team.  After you got through the selection process, the P.E. classes that were all about team sports were usually a ton of fun.
  • The Presidential Physical Fitness Award was an honor to receive. It recognized students achieving an outstanding level of physical fitness in the 85th percentile of the class. The original test included a softball throw, a broad jump, a 50-yard dash, and a 600-yard walk/run. Did you know that President Jimmy Carter hand-signed certificates up until 1981? Kids received not only a certificate but also a patch that they could be proud of. Check out this vintage Physical Fitness Award TV commercial from the 80’s with President Ronald Reagan.
  • Bonus 80’s workout fun! Physical by Olivia Newton-John was the workout song for the decade! If you were a little young to jam out to this song you might have preferred play working out with your Barbie Gym. So much 80’s fun!

Physical fitness in the 80’s was all about movement, strength, and of course rocking the raddest neon workout gear.  If you still have your leotard handy, dust it off and get moving before the holidays hit! Physical activity is good for our body and mind, it’s what keeps us going strong. So, take a cue from your old physical fitness classes in the 80’s and get Physical! 

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