Stories of a "Gym Major" with asthma (Part 1)

This (early!) morning, I’m writing from the Starbucks at the university. I’ve been out of school for two years now (and I’ve already learned this morning, that being a graduate doesn’t necessarily make my efforts in this space any more productive than when I “studied” here!). In a way, asthma was a bigger part of my post-secondary experience—for better or worse—than I might have anticipated. After my first couple years my asthma was in a lot better control than when I started, but then, I found myself taking all these classes in the gym.

Let’s put this into perspective a bit okay? I routinely spent my years in high school phys ed trying to get out of gym class. Or asking the gym teacher, in grade 10, every class if we could do the hokey pokey. (…Maybe this is where my destiny to find myself leading gym programs, occasionally including the hokey pokey, was sealed?) He was a total athlete, and was super thrilled with me for this. So, physical activity was not my strong suit. And then I got asthma, which confirmed my suspicion that I might have had exercise induced asthma for awhile (like my whole life? Maybe exercise wasn’t supposed to suck as bad as it did for me?).

So then the former gym hater, AKA me, finds herself in the gym. For class. For part of an actual course. This is one area where I wavered in how much I told my instructors about my asthma—I wasn’t graded on what I could do in the gym, unless that was how well could I instruct a lesson with a group of people, cooperatively—and I could do that just fine. One of my first active classes, we ended up going outdoors (yes, 20-something, mostly 20-somethings, running around in a field for an hour and a half playing tag for a course requirement is definitely one of my favorite university stories!), so given it was spring and my allergy situation hadn’t been nailed down yet, I did pull the instructor to the side when we reached the field (which is no longer there) and let him know about my asthma.
“Things should be good,” I told him. “But, just so you know that I’m not just like, slacking off if I have to take a break."

Some instructors I told about my asthma in sort of a similar way. Others I told only when the need came up, like if I was sick and couldn’t participate. Others didn’t know at all. With that said, I had a medical ID bracelet for most of university, so it’s not like if something happened, they had no way of knowing what was going on. And, for the most part, nothing happened. i knew my limits and sat out when I wasn’t breathing well, and otherwise, participated as much as I could.

Because, honestly, laying on the floor learning shotput technique with beanbags? And that other class where I spent 30 minutes hopping on one foot for a student-led lesson? Yeah, why would I let asthma stop me from having that fun?

Although, I still don’t understand the time I was supposed to learn and play rugby… Maybe I should have claimed asthma and sat that one out...
Kidding, kidding. That’s not how I roll!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.