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Memories Of School PE Lessons Still Send A Shiver Down The Spine Of Six In Ten British Adults

group of school children run during physical education class at school gym

A nationwide survey has revealed as many as 64 percent of Brits say PE was the very WORST thing about school, with modern children having no idea of how bad it used to be.

Among the most loathed aspects of old school gym lessons was the shame of being the last to be picked for a team (42 percent), the torment of having to run about outside in the freezing cold wearing just a pair of PE knickers (40 percent) and being humiliated publicly by the teacher (39 percent).

The embarrassment of having to get changed in front of your entire class (35 percent), coming last in a race to the patronising sound of clapping (35 percent) and forgetting your kit and having to wear ill-fitting, smelly items from lost property (29 percent) also featured among the aspects of physical education which make British adults shudder.

The study by myphizz, an app which supports schools in improving the wellbeing of pupils, also found that memories of the inevitable post-lesson cold shower (17 percent) still make us squirm.

Being made to climb a rope in the hall (23 percent) and having to wear uncomfortable plimsolls (12 percent) also made the list. 

Little wonder then, perhaps, that 57 percent of adults believe that the unpleasantness of school PE lessons has affected how they think about exercise in their adult life.

Anthony McBride, Co-Founder at myphizz, which conducted the research, said: “We were shocked to see how many people had a bad experience of PE at school and how this has affected their attitude towards exercise later on in life.

“Thankfully, PE has come a long way from the days of pommel horses and smelly plimsolls and advances in technology like myphizz have meant that schools and teachers have more tools available to engage students in an active curriculum.”

Olympic sprinter Adam Gemili who has teamed up with myphizz added: “The mental and physical wellbeing of children has never been more crucial; with lockdown restrictions having a negative impact on activity levels, many children are now sadly not meeting the recommended level of exercise.

“myphizz gives children autonomy and empowers them to manage their own levels of physical activity through choosing exactly the types of exercise they enjoy. Whether they’re completely new to physical activity and enjoy inventing their own fun and wacky physical challenges or they’re an aspiring athlete.”

According to the data, a staggering 95 percent of the parents polled said they thought their own children have it so much better when it comes to PE than they themselves did when at school.

52 percent believe that PE lessons today are more dynamic and fun, while 50 percent like the fact that their children have more activities to choose from.

44 percent believe that modern PE teachers are more encouraging than ever before, while 26 percent believe that students are less likely to be picked on these days.


  1. Being the last to be picked for a team – 42%
  2. Doing PE outside in the cold or rain – 40%
  3. Being made to feel inadequate because you struggled- 39%
  4. The embarrassment of getting changed in front of everyone – 35%
  5. Coming last in races to the sound of patronising clapping- 32%
  6. Mean PE teachers – 32%
  7. Having to run the 1,500 metres – 30%
  8. Forgetting your kit and having to wear smelly lost property – 28%
  9. Cross country races – 27%
  10. Being shouted at by the teacher – 23%
  11. Having to climb a rope – 23%
  12. Having to compete with the sporty kids – 19%
  13. Jumping over the pommel horse – 18%
  14. Forging a sick note from your mum but getting caught out – 18%
  15. Having to wear PE knickers – 18%
  16. Having to have a cold shower afterwards – 17%
  17. The hard, blue PE mats – 13%
  18. Having to wear uncomfortable plimsolls – 12%
  19. Playing rounders – 12%
  20. Being tripped up during matches – 11%