Personal Fitness Merit Badge

ShipOfFools_web_10042015do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20)

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.[1] 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.


[1] This edition of The Aerobics Way was my second copy. I read the first one in 1966 or 1967.

Personal Fitness Merit Badge


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