Physical Fitness Testing

Today was physical fitness testing day at the middle school. The entire school participates in several tests once a year, and the whole school is involved.

These cherry blossoms are no longer here, and are also irrelevant…I just don’t like to write a post without a picture.

5th, 6th, and 7th period today (after lunch) were all devoted to the “physical fitness tests.” When I was in middle school, the P.E. teacher ran anything to do with physical fitness. Sometimes we’d get timed running the mile, and I think there were times where they recorded how many sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups we could do. Today’s proceedings, though, were more like a cross between a fitness exam, a track meet, and maybe even field day (field day is the only all-school type of outdoor activity I can come up with).

My school has around 200 students. There were a few “stations” set up around the school, each manned by one, two, or three teachers. I didn’t go to all of the areas.

The testing began with all the students sitting quietly with their hands around their knees (体操座り) in straight lines by grade and homeroom class. The “official” P.E. teacher gave instructions and told them that it was a test, so they have to take it seriously. Then, different classes went to different stations first, and just rotated around as they finished each one. I started off at one of the stations in the multipurpose room, where all this began. There, two classes lined up and waited to see huow far they could stretch their arms sitting down. You sit with your back to the wall, and with your shoulders also straight against the wall, you lean forward. There’s this cardboard thing that looks like a pair of boxes connected by one piece of cardboard on top, and students hold the piece of cardboard with their hands and push it as far as they can reach. The teacher sits next to them and uses a ruler to measure how far you pushed the box. I got to try it afterward, and I really thought I was going to be really stiff (かたい), but I got a 48, which apparently isn’t bad. (The other test going on at the other side of the multipurpose room was a grip test. I didn’t get the chance to try it.)

(The weather has been really nice here, like California weather, making today perfect for outdoor fitness activities. I don’t have to wear sweaters to school, and if I run around or something, I actually get hot. The weather is still pleasant on my way back home from work on my bicycle, and even when it rained once, it wasn’t freezing cold rain or hot humid rain, it was just rain. Spring is nice!)

Outside, field marking chalk was used to make a circle, which then opened outward in a cone shape, with lines about a foot and a half long marking the distance. Students would stand inside the circle, and throw a ball the size of a…medium-sized snow globe? (smaller than a volleyball and larger than a tennis ball…help, I’m tired haha), and the teacher would call out the distance of wherever it fell, and another student would record it on a sheet. On the far end of the field, it looked like students were doing the long jump. There were stations in the gym, too, but I didn’t go over to see.

Something that struck me was how peaceful and nice this day was. All the teachers were helping run a station, so everyone saw everyone else at some point, and it was nice to be able to go outdoors on a sunny afternoon. Something I noticed was that the students seemed to enjoy this event–even though it was technically a “test,” students were having fun trying to get a good score on each thing, and seeing how far their friends could throw or stretch or whatnot. It’s not like the teachers were all like, “Yay, we get to record the individual fitness scores of 200 students in a row!!” but I think I like these mandatory activities that are not very stressful. I got to talk to the teachers during and between incoming classes of students, and students were also laughing and having a good time. Since it was technically a test, they still had to greet the teachers formally when they’d lined up in two straight lines to take each test, and stand, bow, (起立、礼) greet the teachers formally (お願いします) at the beginning and thank them formally (ありがとうございました…I think…) at the end of each test. However, this was kind of like having test rules without a rigid test atmosphere.

At the end of the fitness tests, all the students sat on the floor again by class and waited quietly for the remaining students to file in. This took a while, and I was standing by one of the many open windows in the multipurpose room, where the spring breeze was coming in. The final class came in and sat down in their lines, and the P.E. teacher and school president (?) (class rep?) gave a short comment, and then school was basically out until club activities started up in the next 20 mins or so. Apparently, even though we have an extra class of 7th graders this year, we finished the testing even earlier than last year. I asked afterward what larger middle schools do for fitness testing, and whether they still test everyone at the same time. Apparently, they do–since there’s more teachers, they just keep more stations running at a time.

Song of the Day: Switchfoot, “Stars”

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