Personal Fitness Merit Badge
By Stephen W. Hiemstra
As a young adult I was prouder of becoming an Eagle Scout than of earning a doctorate. An important reason was that I succeeded in completing personal fitness merit badge.
I did not consider myself athletic in seventh grade. Although in grade school I played on a baseball team and had lots of natural talent, that talent mostly went to waste. By seventh grade, I felt dumpy, was no good at dancing, and mostly felt picked on by bullies.
In my troop, I earned more badges than anyone, but I kept putting off personal fitness merit badge—it was a chore; it did not fit my self image; I had no clue how to become fit. Besides, I reasoned, no one expected me to become an Eagle Scout—no one in Troop 1022 had ever done it.
At some point, I discovered Dr. Cooper’s book: Aerobics. He was cool—he was an Air Force doctor and was on television. He said that you could become fit by doing any exercise that you wanted; all you had to do was earn enough points every week doing different exercises. So I started jogging because jogging earned more points than other exercises.
One day during gym class I started running around the goal posts. I ran about 6 or 7 times around the goal posts before my physical education teacher stopped me and asked me if something was wrong. The same thing happened the first time I jogged down Good Luck Road: a driver pulled over and asked if I needed a ride. No one had a clue what I was doing—the idea of running for exercise in 1967 was novel and it sounded crazy to most people.
Crazy or not, I earned personal fitness merit badge. The other badges came easy.
Cooper, Kenneth H. 1977. The Aerobics Way. New York: Bantam Books.
 This edition of The Aerobics Way was my second copy. I read the first one in 1966 or 1967.