Suzanne Reisler Litwin: Participate in something

Who remembers the Flexed Arm Hangs? As part of The Canadian Fitness Test, this was one of the activities you needed to do. If you don’t remember this activity, take a look at the photo.

Once a year, in Elementary and Secondary School I would participate in The Canadian Fitness test. This was part of The Canada Fitness Award Program. Depending on your fitness level you could earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold award or the most sought after the Award of Excellence.

“The Canada Fitness Award Program was a national fitness test and evaluation program operated by the Government of Canada department Health and Welfare Canada from 1970 to 1992. It was replaced by the Active Living Challenge program.

The fitness test consisted of six short duration events for 7- to 18-year-old individuals: the 50 yard run, the 300 yard run, flexed arm hangs, the shuttle run, speed sit ups, and the standing long jump.”


Talk about excitement, when I heard we were doing the fitness test in gym class, I nearly lost my mind. I’m not a competitive person with anyone else except for myself. Every year I tried my best to earn the Award of Excellence. I wanted it so badly. I wanted to be the fittest I could be. Problem was I just couldn’t get through the Flexed Arm Hangs test.

I knew I had to hang from the bar for over 1 minute. I knew I had to keep my chin above the bar. So much dialogue was going through my mind. Come one Sue, you can do it. You want the Award of Excellence so badly. Stay up there. Think about Ogunquit Beach. Think about dancing ballet. Think about playing with your cat Menou. Think about your favourite colour blue. Think about… But… I can’t hang on…. I just can’t manage… My body is shaking and shaking and….ugh…

Suzanne we are pleased to award you the Gold Award…

Every year I received the Gold or Silver Award, never the Award of Excellence. At least I tried my best. I really did try. Perhaps I should have sung an Elvis tune in my head which lasted more than 1 ½ minutes?

The bottom line is I tried something and I tried my best.

The best part of Elementary School was the fact you didn’t have choices in what you were learning. If you were learning to paint in Art class, you painted. If you were working with clay in Art class, you worked with clay. Not much of a choice.

Same thing happened in Gym class. If you were playing soccer baseball, you played the game. If you were learning to play tennis, you played tennis. If you were doing the Flexed Arm Hangs, you did it. No choice. You did what you were told and you tried your best.

Once in Secondary School, you had some choices. You could choose some of what you were interested in. I tried so many different subjects such as: Wood Shop, Home Economics, Sewing, and Drafting (I loved this course), Topography (I loved this too!), Typing, and Chemistry in the Modern World (THE BEST!).

In College and University, I selected courses I wanted to learn. Except for the required curriculum courses, I basically selected what I wanted. Although, the world of courses was my oyster, I stuck to what I wanted to learn.

Now as an adult, the prescribed Elementary learning subjects are no longer forced upon us. We select what we want to learn. By choice, we narrow our paths of expansion.

I suggest, think outside of the box! Tuesday at 11 a.m. is Art class and we are going to paint! But, I haven’t painted in 50 years! That’s the point. Let’s participate in the things we used to like, but don’t do any more.

I’m not suggesting to do the Flexed Arm Hangs, I’m just suggesting to get out of the “things you like to do box”, and try something else. It’s as simple as going to the Dollar Store and buying some paint or clay, or wood and do something new.

Participate in something which you have never done or haven’t done in a very long time. Make something you haven’t made since Elementary or Secondary School.

Run the 50 yard dash!

How many sit-ups can you do in 1 minute?

When was the last time you made a Baking Soda Volcano?

Try this link:

Ya know, you can have all those experiences again and more. You just need to think outside of your preference box and go for it. Now is definitely a good time to try something new. How’s about a Popsicle stick box?

You might enjoy yourself sooo much; it could become one of your preference things to do.

You never know unless you try.

Participaction in something new and different this or next week. Have fun!

Let us know what you’re up to. You just might earn The Award of Excellence for Effort!

— By Suzanne Reisler Litwin

— AB

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