Canada Fitness

I went looking for information about the Canada Fitness program today, and I couldn’t find anything. Perhaps it’s dead?

During my elementary school years, each spring we were forced to engage in a set of fitness tests — chin-ups and running figured prominently — and based on our individual results, we were awarded either a bronze, silver, gold or the “Award of Excellence.” Or, if you were like me, you received none of the above and instead were “awarded” a small plastic “participation pin.”

Although it’s hard not to laud any program that endeavoured to make us all more fit, I can’t think of any one effort in my time inside the walls of formal education that did more to turn me off physical activity.

Presumably the theory went that we down in the dregs of the participation pin ghetto were supposed to strive to better ourselves, with hopes that one day we could become bronze, silver, gold, or “excellent.”

In practice, we all thought the program silly and perhaps mean-spirited, for it seemed to rate natural abilities more than anything else. And, heck, we couldn’t do anything about that. Not quite eugenics. But not as far off as I’d like, either.


Johnny's picture
I’m reminded of the Tragically Hip song ‘Fireworks’, which contains the line, ‘caught in some eternal flexed-arm hang’, a reference to the inhuman torture that was the Canada Fitness flexed-arm hang. For my part, it was always the sprints that prevented me from getting anything better than Silver. I was more of a speed sit-ups specialist.
Steven Garrity's picture
For me, it was the endurance run - Gold on everything but the damned endurance run. The shuttle-run, however, was my domain.
Ken's picture
Riding the school bus in Loggieville, New Brunswick in grade five I was punched in the stomach by a kid named Jean-Jaques, and I didn’t fight back because he had gold in physical fitness and I only had bronze. I remember the shame of the fat kids who couldn’t register even a second of flex-arm hangtime, Mr. Ross the principal/gym teacher would hold them up then coach them to hold on, then let go and they’d drop.
Peter Rukavina's picture
I’d forgotten the specific technical terms that Canada Fitness used. I *hated* the “flexed arm hang” — it truly was like torture. You basically flexed your arms and hung (at least the name was accurate!) from a set of monkey bars for as long as you could. The longer you hung, the better your score. Johnny tells me that “speed situps” was later replaced with “speed curls,” after it was found that situps were harmful to ones health.
Justin's picture
I was forever among the most fit group - being a country raised jack-rabbit, but hit the bottom of the testing because I didn’t have brute strenth. I couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a sit-up to save my life and still can’t, but I could do push-ups ‘till I got bored, run ‘till sundown and bike until the snow flew or tires blew. Hauling in the award of excellence comes from being somewhat fit and having strength with it. People still confuse muscle with health. The flexed arm hang only tested how long we could put up with lactic acid.
Dan's picture
The Canada Fitness Program was a crock. I was small, quick and strong for my size; but also the smallest kid in my class. I even set the school record for “flexed arm hang.” I would get excellent in everything with one exception: the endurance run. I remember one year in grade 5, that because I was the older than all my classmates by about 7 months, I had to run 1500m instead of 800m like the rest of my classmates. When all my classmates were finished I was only half way through. The entire class sat and just watch me jog around the track, struggling to keep going. I puked at the end and had to go see the school nurse. It was the endurance run the made me get a bronze. I found out that whatever level you got in the endurance run is what you got over all. This test did not take into consideration height, weight, what stage of physical development you were at, or any thing at a proper fitness assessment should. The only consideration was age. If you were X years old you needed to meet X standards. I am glad that it is gone.
Anonymousx's picture
Here is the link to the acual test. Slightly different title…but it is the test we endured from grade 9-12
Anonymousx's picture Here is the link to the old CFT. It is from a different program but is still the CFT in all its glory! Can you still get your high school scores now?
Ronster's picture
Just the other day I was going through my tickle trunk of ancient memories of when I was a kid and came upon my one Gold and 3 Award of Excellence badges. Back in the day I was definately not an active kid except for playing outside with buddies. When this program was first introced to me through school it was a personal challenge. Only one kid in the whole school got the Award of Excellence and that kid was the school hero. That chin hang was the killer. You had to beat 60 secs. Everything else I could do fine but that damn chin hang. SO I PRACTICED AND PRACTICED. I would not settle for anything lower than the Award of Excellence after that Gold badge. It was the begining of a core mindset of a healthly lifestyle that I lead today. I am now 44 and I am still in better shape than most 20 year old guys. I play competetive soccer and work out every day for 40 mins. Compare Canadians to Americans and you will quickly see that we are more active and lead healthier lifestyles. I owe that to the program. Granted not all schools probably delivered the positives but rather the “you must do this” message thus forcing it upon the masses. My teachers were great at being positive and making the program fun. The last year I did it, over 30 kids got the Award of Excellence in my school.
maryanne's picture
Personally, I loved it! Gradually through the years I worked my way to Gold and now I would give anything to be able to do the flexed arm hang like I used to. I remember there was rarely any overweight kids in school. Phys Ed was mandatory and it didn’t matter how good you were, it mattered that you participated. Now I notice that there is a high percentage of overweight kids in schools supported by parents that argue against mandatory Phys Ed because it makes their kids feel bad. That’s wrong on so many levels.
Kevin's picture

I hate the Canada Fitness Test to this day. It rewarded skinny kids for being born gangly, and didn't do a lick to inspire me to do better. Thank God I undid the damage that was gym class, and went out and taught myself about fitness. I can now run half-marathons, I lift weights and do yoga and stretching daily, and none of this thanks to the Canada Fitness Test.

Thank you for ruining my self-esteem and giving my schoolmates even more reason to tease me Canada Fitness Test!

Why wasn't I ever given a "Super Genius" badge to wear whenever I got an "A" in math?

mgmjetta's picture

I remember it well. I remember challenging myself to get exellence. There were more than a few events that I had to do over and over to finally achieve that level. For me it made me better and set my goals for me. We need to bring it back!

Blaine's picture

The Canada Fitness test is probably my single worst school memory! It's ludicrous if you think about it. Once a year you test students on something you have not been coaching or teaching at all. Yes, we had phys. ed. class but I don't remember ever doing an endurance run, flexed arm hang or any of the other tests during PE. If you are going to evaluate students on specific desired outcomes then you have to teach to with those outcomes in mind. It's a basic education principle! It's like testing students once a year on trigonometry after teaching calculus all year. I agree that schools need to encourage lifelong health and fitness but the Canada Fitness test is not the way! It always seemed very Soviet Russia to me.

wow!'s picture

just saw the corner gas episode with the ParticipAction skit, and found this looking up the Canadian fitness test. To all of the above posters, thanks for the memories. Now, off to the cadets fitness test link, to see what my 38 year old bod can handle, lol.

Hecubus's picture

Ah yes, the Canada Fitness Test. Indeed that dreaded "flexed-arm hang" event always prevented myself from nabbing that elusive "Award of Excellence" badge; and thus had to be satisfied with a stikin' gold badge :-) I think there was only 1 kids in my class that received the Award of Excellence; boy was I ever jealous. Seems like yesterday!

Erin's picture

I had forgotten about these tests, brings me back to elementary school. I was not athletic and it was always really hard for me.

Casey H's picture

There were in fact 6 events, as some have stated. I loved the whole thing as I recieved only the award of excellence 6 years in a row from 79,80 - 85,86. I remember being so proud of the accomplishments when I came home, cause mom n dad were so proud of me. Don't have the hardware anymore though, lost in life i suppose. I also remember more Gold and Excellence awards being handed out than the others...way back when parents were a little less leniant and actually told their kids to "get the hell out of the house, it's nice out!" or "go find something to do" without fear of offending anyone! Canada fitness should be brought back in my opinion, I mean who knows? maybe you could be the next Sydney Crosby and not even know until given specific strength and endurance tests when it just me, or is today's technology promoting lazyness?

Lunny's picture
Oh my goodness…I LOVED reading all of these comments! It looks like it has been awhile since anyone posted on this site, but still, deep down, I have to have a say on this issue. The flexed arm hang was torture, and as someone above stated so honesty, it simply was a test to see how long you can put up with lactic acid!!! Although I did get Award of Excellence each time, I nearly died doing it. There was so much pressure. As a teacher today, I am glad that this test is no longer in effect. However, after seeing the problems of lack of activity by children (and adults), and then the cycle of low self-esteem, and add the fact that the natural athletes will dominate the school (teams and social), I do think something has to be done. Does anyone out there remember the program “Fit Five”? It was a little exercise program that you would do on your own time in the privacy of your own space. For each five minutes of activity, you could check off a circle. Each of the five levels had 100 circles to be checked off. When you were finished, you could mail it in and get a certificate of accomplishment and an embroidered badge. It was a super program. I would love it if the government could bring it back. I think it would help all of those students today who are a bit self-conscious about themselves, but still understand that they need to do something to ‘get moving’. Thanks again, everyone, for the great read above! I am going to print this out and put it in our staff room at school. I am sure you will bring some smiles and laughs to the faces of all of the past tortured students (aka teachers now!).
Jeff Griffith's picture
I loved the Canada Fitness Test. I was the king of the flexed arm hang. I don’t remember the times, but is was always much, much longer than everyone else. As the time went on, and everyone else dropped off, everything else in the gym would stop and everyone would gather around to watch me. I remember the looks of amazement in the other kids eyes as the time ticked by and I still hung on. It gave me a chance to be a hero in the school where I never was at other times. Every year I got the Award of Excellence except the final year when I got the Gold. Now, I’d be surprised if I could even get the participation pin.
John's picture
Yes, I remember this very well. It was an event where the students had to engage in six athletic events: The six events: 1. Endurance run 2. 50-metre run 3. Standing long jump 4. Shuttle run 5. Flexed arm hang or push-ups 6. Speed sit-ups or curl-ups Depending on your performance on these six events, you would win one of five award levels ranking from the best to worst: 1. Excellence (red patch + certificate) 2. Gold (yellow patch) 3. Silver (grey patch) 4. Bronze (brown patch) 5. Participation Pin (a sticker) In order to win the award of excellence, you had to achieve the excellence level in ALL six events. I remember a few years in which I narrowly missed out on the excellence award by coming up just short of the excellence level in one event. In my years, I ended up with 2 excellence, 3 gold, and 1 silver: Grade 2: gold Grade 3: gold Grade 4: silver Grade 5: gold Grade 6: excellence Grade 7: excellence The patches were circular and measured 3 inches in diameter. Along with the excellence award badge came a Certificate of Excellence signed by the Prime Minister (then Brian Mulroney in my years) and the Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport. The certificate read: “To (your name) in recognition of attaining the highest achievement in the CANADA FITNESS AWARD
R's picture
Today we do: Pacer Test (in the gym, 20m back and forth trying to beat the beep), mile run, chin ups, Flex arm hang, sit ups, push ups, vertical jump, And flexibility test. I’m OK at all except running ones. I wish there was a reflex test but there isn’t. These days we do it 5 times a year.
Tobla's picture
When I was in high school I was short and not very pretty. I did not have a lot of confidence as a result. One of my teachers decided to involve me in sports. I became involved because of her and I thrived. Because of her and those awards of excellence I developed a confidence that has served me well all of my life. I am still short and not very pretty but I have great confidence.
John S's picture
A good page showing all four patches:
John S's picture
According to an old manual found at: Crests are awarded on the basis of level of achievement. The following are applicable: Award of Excellence. Excellence level in all six test items. Gold. Gold level or higher in five test items including endurance run. Silver. Silver level or higher on four test items, including endurance run. Bronze. Bronze level or higher in four test items, including endurance run.
Paul's picture

I am a grade split class grade 3 and 4 homeroom teacher.  I teach all of the subjects, including Phys. Ed.   I still use the Canada Fitness Test, the revised one that it is.  Most of uou will be happy to know that the flexed arm hang no longer exists.  How could I ever forget hanging up on that bar for a minute…ouch!   No matter what the subject is, I always put the emphasis on improving yourself (i.e making and then beating your own personal bests).  I never announce a student's results in front of other students.  I very quietly hand out tests or, after the Fitness Test, a certificate and strongly recommend that they not share their results with anyone (they all do though).  No matter what subject I am teaching or sport we are practicising, I always encourage the motto "Cooperate with others, Compete against yourself".  In today's society we all sit in front of screens too much.  For me, I find that this test encourages students to give it their all and then try to improve their results (I do the testing in the fall and in the spring).  I always applaud a student when they break a personal best.  They work on their fitness, strength and flexibility all year.  Tired students start every day with "silent sit-ups and push ups" in the classroom to get the blood moving, to help wake up so that they are sharp and ready for learning.   

Jason's picture

I don't think there's anything wrong with rating people on their natural ability and giving awards. It's called "school." Students do work and are graded on how accurate it is. Some are better at it than others due to natural ability - ability to retain information, collate and express ideas, and study. These students did well and were called "A-students". Those of us who did not have this natural ability generally were not A-students. I don't see how this is any different, unless you somehow believe physical abilities should be treated differently than mental abilities - in which case I would challenge you to explain why.

jason's picture

Come on people. We have all kinds of test in our lives. How about all those science, math, and english test that many people failed miserably on. I don't see a site where we put down all those tests. Let's be realistic here if we remove the pressure for excellence and competition then there will be no desire to maintain some level of fitness and the world will be a bunch of overweight slobs afraid to do anything because they might fail. boo ohh cry me a river. Oh please correct me, the world is like that. We have to be so politically correct these days that all students must get 98% in physical education, even when they can barely walk, move, catch, run, throw, jump. Oh no we can't tell our kids that they are well below any standard level of fitness as we may hurt their feelings. Well we can't hurt their feelings or we will have to give them a cookie or a bowl of ice cream. Who in the hell are we kidding here. Let's be brutally honest. Our kids have to be given a straight up "listen your out of shape, you are obese, you are not going to outlive your parents, you will have diabetes, you will have heart trouble, you will die if you can't get in shape. These test are proof and evidence that by god if you can't do a few push ups or worst again hang from a bar then there is something wrong with you and your body. "get to work and get in shape". No back doors no political correctness, we are not doing them any favors. Its about time we brought back the tough love and down right honesty of the fitness test. It would be much better to hurt a kids self esteem a little as opposed to sheilding them from the reality and letting them die of multiple health problems and a life of inactivity. Shame on our society. Shame I say.

Frank's picture

Here's a picture of my Award of Excellence from around 1977.

Sean Culligan's picture

The first time I participated in the Canada Fitness test I received a silver badge while in the third grade, the second year I received a bronze. I was pretty young at the time and was not really aware of what was going on. In grade five I tried hard and achieved a gold. The following year (and the last time I had the opportunity to do the test) I strived and reached the Award of Excellence. To this day I maintain a high degree of fitness and it likely is due in large part to these tests.

Melanie's picture

I used to look forward to this every year. To me it was a break from the regular gym class, it was variety and a challenge to get better at the activities every year. Although I only did it to grade 4. I don't what happened to it after that. That would have been about 73 or 74. In grade 3 i got the gold. Only one or two (maybe 3) kids got the award of excellence each year. When I grew up I read that in grade 3 you've reached the threshold of what a body can do (like strength, endurance etc). So it made sense that I reached my max in grade 3 (a boy in my class also got a gold that year).

That year the flexed arm hang i stuck it out for 1min+ (i think 12 secs). Everyone gathered round and watched me but after a while they got bored because it didn't look i was going to finish any time soon, and they all left so i finished it by myself.

Its funny what we remember. But I liked doing it and they should have continued it. Look what not continuing it did! And the people who get uptight because they were picked on and they figure its not fair all got over it and became productive adults in spite of it. We can't deny everyone a chance at excellence because a few can't compete. It's not fair!

Sam's picture

The worst part of the Can. Fit Test was how I felt in the days afterwards!! I was in elementary school and could barely 'roll' out of bed to get up for school. We would go from a laid back routine in gym directly into this masochistic ritual that demanded the very best out of every one of my muscles. The result wasn't pretty. Sure, I could do 61 sit-ups in a minute (the only thing I was good at) but about 9 seconds at the dreaded flexed arm hang. How about the 50 yard dash? You're take off and run flat out (like I do that everyday!) and, yep, I seriously pulled my thigh muscle and thought I was gonna die!

What a ridiculous way to judge the fitness of a nation of kids. I think this was humiliating and hazardous...especially in the hands of a sadistic PE teacher. Not good memories.

Leif Timmermans's picture

I don't get why everyone that was overweight is complaining.... I am 15 slightly overweight mostly because i'm just build that way though anyways a I wish we could do this in my school. Right now we do the presidents challenge and its not as good there's no award of excellence.... but I still push my self and train for the tests to try and get better then last time...

CJM's picture

Aaah the flexed arm hang!!It is great reading all these blogs here.Brings back good memories.I remember being scared to death waiting for my turn to get to the flexed arm hang.I went from bronze to silver to gold and finally the award of excellence.The only thing was the badge changed from the one with the boarder at the top to the red boarder with gold.Damn it , i wanted the old style!!!!lol.Anyway it brings back good memories.I have never felt so alive as a child with fear/anticipation as when i did those tests.

jason's picture
a friend and i have been searching for the aoe, she has the new aoe and said the earlier aoe was much better. i only have the bronze and silver. i am also 47 and remember this the flex arm hang i totally forgot about that. it was my best test. thanks for the memory. can you post a pic of the aware of excellence? would be very much appreciated. or email me the picture to, so glad i found this site.
Patricia's picture

thank you thank you for doing this for your students.   yes you will get your whiners, who likes to 'work', but man will it ever pay off.   I do have a question for you though…do you have access to the written info on the original program?   Our school is celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year and I am trying to put together a display on the Canadian Fitness program, or as we knew it back in the 70's "participACTION'.   What I really need are the 'scores' needed for grades 1 to 7 for the 6 events  (bronze, silver, gold).   I have tried going to the Canadian government and they have no idea where to find the info.   Go figure.   So any direction would be welcome right now. 

Jevon's picture
Next to your comrades in the national fitness program/ Caught in some eternal flexed arm hang/ Dropping to the mat in a fit of laughter” - Fireworks
Ann's picture
When I was growing up in the United States, we used the wretched RCAF fitness program. We were spurred on to flex and push up and run by taunts that, if we couldn’t do it, we would be lesser people than Canadians - which was somehow an insult. I had the distinct impression at that time that Canadians could do anything since all we knew about Canada was the RCAF fitness plan and the NFB.
steve's picture
I was often a participation pin recipient, although I logged a few bronzes along the way. My best year ever was grade three, when somehow the stars aligned to deliver me the gold. But I was never able to acheive it again. Instead of inspiring me, I was, by grade six, devastated to realize that I had reached my peak of physical strength in grade three, and that all my best years were behind me.

The Canada Fitness program was a cruel and poorly thought out social experiment.

Sam's picture

I agree!!!

Johnny's picture
If I recall, Canada Fitness personal records fell like dominoes for everybody when we were in grade three. I think it was attributable to: 1) wind-assisted sprint times 2) a faulty stopwatch 3) performance enhancing substances.
Janice's picture
I for one would like to find out if anyone has a record of what the tests were? While I don’t necessarily support the blatant recognition of ones level, the components of the test could be a useful tool in setting up circuit training to help kids develop better fitness. We are a national of fat kids and fat adults and we desparately need to do something about it!!!! Perhaps getting rid of cars and computers would help! Any help with locating more info on this years ago memory would be appreciated.
Chris robert's picture
it is wonderful to see people remember the fitness award at school .My brother and I trained like dogs ,we were the school record holders for the flex arm hang (over 2 minutes) but like everybody we had our weak points . for many years we trained just for the test,it was a trampoline for a short sports carrier in running . I forgot about the test until my small kids found my badges . I would like to trie them on my boys since they are very sport oriented. Living in France I have a hard time trying to find the times needed for the test can somebody help me.
Sue Pyle's picture
Hi about 20 years and 5 moves ago a friend lent us 5BX Fitness plan for men to get fit. We have tried unsuccessfully to find it and would like to get hold of a copy to give to him for his 65th birthday. Any ideas?
Morley Robertson's picture
Anybody remember the standing long jump? Or the endurance run or partial curl-ups or the shuttle run? I sure do. I worked my butt off year after year for those badges. Everybody in my school did. It’s kinda nice to actually remember all of that. Until I saw this forum I’d had forgotten.
Alan's picture
Ah… the Canada Fitness Program. You all take me back. I think I ‘ll call up my mom and have her dig up my 5 awards of excellence and one silver so I can sew them on my jean jacket to be proudly displayed once again. Although not the cure to the rise in overweight kids nowadays, but something like it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
jason's picture
would you be able to post a pic of the AOE? or email it to me at would be very much appreciated. great memories of the program jason, vancouver bc canada
Debbie's picture
As a teacher in B.C., I am interested in finding the program we used for the Canada Fitness testing. I too was in school when it was used - and although I did fairly well, I would never put my students through the same process. However, I do feel that I’m not doing enough to help increase my students level of fitness, and would like to go back to using some of those activities in a less competitive setting. Anyone know where I can find the info?
sam's picture
I now live in the States, and fondly remember the Socialist paradise that was Canada. For some reason I remembered the Canada Fitness Tests…Nothing was more fun that atching all the fat kids struggle to do flexed arm hangs… I have often wondered if there was a real reason for the tests…maybe all the kids who got Excellence Awards all were recruited to work for some super secret govenment agancy. I could tell you… but then i’d have to kill you.
Diane's picture
I loved doing the Canada Fitness program. But perhaps it was because I never had to do the flexed arm hang. Could it be that that was just for the boys? As I remember it, there were 6 tests: -endurance run -shuttle run -some other sprint run -push ups -sit-ups -standing long jump. Can anyone else verify this?
oscar robinson's picture
I am trying to find the on-line 5BX program because I can afford the pamplet at this time. Can some one help me with this matter?
Kris Logan's picture
Don’t know what made me think of it but I was just speaking with someone at work about the shuttle run and we couldn’t remember what the whole program was called so I googled it and found this link. Thanks for helping me remember everyone. Now that line that Gordie wrote in Fireworks makes sense too! I was kinda sporty in elementary school so I was always a Gold or Excellence kid but I think that was only because I didn’t have to do the flexed arm hang…thank god! I did the same group of tests as Diane above mentioned and I think the other sprint run was the 100m dash. Good times, good times.
Josh's picture
My father did the Canada Fitness tests, and recieved awards of excellence quite often, and I myself would like to know the standards for this test, you know, so we can have some comparisonb and all. If you find anything, please email me. thanks
Laura's picture
I was one of those kids who was always picked last for teams. Not naturally strong or athletic, the Canada Fitness program was even more torturous than regular gym because not only were we non-jocks “inferior,” we were formally recognized as such! By junior high, I was completely turned off of phys. ed. Now very active in my adult life (despite the endless blows to my self-esteem in gym class), I look back sadly on all of those competitive activities that taught me (wrongly) that fitness was “not for me.” Man, I sure hope we are doing a better job in phys. ed. programming these days…
Sara's picture
I had to do the flexed arm hang…but there were different time requirements for girls. I remember the program as a great motivator though…my running scores always held me back from the coveted excellence award and so every lunch hour i would train(!!) It all was worth it though and in the end my name was called to stand in front of the assembly and collect that award of excellence!!!
jason's picture
would you be able to email me a pic of the aoe? would be very appreciated. thanks in advance. jason, vancouver canada
Sarah's picture
I am a teacher and have tried to get my students to get into shape playing sports, but have not been entirely successful. I know that more encouragement to stay in shape physically needs to come from the home, but since this not happening I think we as educators need to take some responsibility in creating a desire for fitness. I just read that the Canada Fitness Program was discontinued because some kids couldn’t achieve. Isn’t it the same for any other type of program? Academics are difficult for some, but we don’t throw out the grade book—we just find a way of helping everyone have success. Can’t we do that with physical education? Just because our country seems to be out shape doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work at getting healthy. I am interested in developing a program that would be sort of like the Canada Fitness Progam but without the prestigious award system—or would that even work? Perhaps there is already a modified program out there that would be beneficial for helping our kids stay in shape. If anyone knows of one could you let me know? Thanks, Sarah
Phil Emberley's picture
I find this site very interesting. I have fond memories of the Canada Fitness Award, and in fact received the excellence award one year. I think that it is disappointing that a national program like this is non-existent today. We lament the lack of Olympic medals in Athens but at the same time have record obesity rates among adolescents. We have record waiting times for medical services, but do nothing to encourage the life-long commitment to exercise and disease prevention. Perhaps instead of throwing millions of $ at the healthcare system, Ottawa should become more proactive.
Jennifer's picture
The Hip song sparked memories for me too and I googled my way to this site. I saw several people asking for a record of the program and I found this site which lists the guidelines from 1986:
John S's picture
Diane: The flexed arm hang was replaced by push-ups in some schools. There were six events: 1. Endurance run 2. 50-metre run 3. Standing long jump 4. Shuttle run 5. Flexed arm hang or push-ups 6. Speed sit-ups or curl-ups The curl-ups were different from sit-ups in that they were not a matter of speed, but consistency as you had to do a curl-up at a steady, consistent speed to that indicated by the tester. In order to win the award of excellence, you had to achieve the excellence level in ALL six events. I remember a few years in which I narrowly missed out on the excellence award by coming up just short of the excellence level in one event. In my elementary school years, I ended up with 2 excellence, 3 gold, and 1 silver: grade 2: gold grade 3: gold grade 4: silver grade 5: gold grade 6: excellence grade 7: excellence The badges appeared in the same colour as described by their name, with the excellence badge appearing in a dark red colour. They were circular and measured 3 inches in diametre. Along with the excellence award badge came a Certificate of Excellence signed by the Prime Minister (then Brian Mulroney) and the Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport. The cerficate read: ” To (your name) in recognition of attaining the highest achievement in the CANADA FITNESS AWARD
Sean Henderson's picture
Here is a site that will help all keep fit. Thank You
Andrew's picture
There is one thing about the Canada Fitness Program…everyone remembers it, but there is nowhere to find the detailed information. With our kids, there is definately alot lacking in schools around fitness. I would like to see a similar program instituted in schools, because it at least gave you something to strive for. Perhaps the activities need to be changed, but come on schools…DO SOMETHING!!!! By the way, I never did achieve the Award of Excellence.
Nicole's picture
I just wanted to make a note, I was actually looking for some Canada Fitness Award info that goes beyond the age of 18. Just so everyone knows, the Cadet program (from teens aged 12-18) does this testing yearly, and I wanted to see if myself as an instructor would qualify but my age group is not in the charts in the handbooks we give the youth.
theSkinny's picture
i’m currently putting together a little project about the canada fitness program. I’m looking for any info i can, from anecdotes to academic article on the subject. I invite anyone to participate in the discussions (also, if anyone actually has an image of the “participation pin” i’d love to have one sent to me…. see an excellence award and a gold patch at: be seeing you, bill
Jay Jones's picture
I started public school in ‘72 and graduated in ‘84.I have at least 8 of these awards at home, I’m thinking the program started around ‘74 and I’m not sure how long it continued. The events we competed in were: - 50 yard dash - 300 yard run - flexed arm hang - shuttle run (4 trips back and forth, picking up and dropping objects0 - sit ups (number you could do in a minute) - standing long jump I think I got the award of excellence in grade 5 and 6, a couple of golds, a couple of silvers, and by grade 10 or 11, I dropped all the way to the bronze. I stumbled on to this discussion after looking up some tragically hip lyrics…kind of fun to remember that far back! Jay
Ben Winsor's picture
GEEZ…..This brings back some memories. I used to dread fitness testing day. Used to have a pile of “Participaction” ribbons lying around til I started faking sick so I could skip it. I could never do any of that stuff….cept the shuttle run. Funny how things work out…I’m now a fire fighter (FFCC Competitor), self defense instructor and certified fitness trainer. I work out 6 days a week. Would love to go back and try that all again! Would do anything to get my hands on one of those ribbons to hang on my wall. Hey, if anyone has one….please email me…i’d pay for one for sure! Ben
Ryan Waddell's picture
Ahhh the good ol’ Canada Fitness awards. I used to loooove Canada Fitness week, almost as much as the Jump Rope For Heart week! For those of you who might wonder if there is something similar today, I give you the Go Active! Fitness Challenge It focuses more on personal improvement from year to year, which is better in my opinion, but there you have it. :)
Clark's picture
The ParticpACTION archive brought back lots of memories for me:
Clark's picture
stewie's picture
I think the guy who called it a cruel social experiment hit it on the head. Honestly, the testing scarred me for life. Thanks to this program, my dorkiness was broadcast to the entire class on an annual basis, including all the girls. I was fine playing sports, but couldn’t do well in these ridiculous tests. I was a participaction winner, with the odd bronze award thrown in. At a young age, the last thing you need is to be put in the spotlight for your physical abilities, or lack thereof. Nobody knew or cared what you got on the math test, but everyone knew if you were one of the few losers in the class who couldn’t even muster a bronze award. I’m not one to whine or complain all that much, but this is something that has bothered me for a long time. I can’t understand why our government subjected us to this cruelty.
Shelley's picture
My brother was cleaning out his room and collected this box of old badges and pins. Amongst them were three of my Canada Fitness badges. I can recall receiving the silver and the gold that I found, but I was surprised to see what I remembered as being Excellence! I didn’t think I ever got one and I knew it wasn’t my brother’s because the program was gone by the time he was in school. So I googled Canada Fitness to verify if it indeed was Excellence and it was! Wow! My mom says she remembers me getting it, so I guess I did! As I am not the most athletic person now, I am seriously considering sewing it on a bag or something as a retro reminder of my “athletic” supremacy in the 80s! I think it would be a great conversation starter! It was really funny to read all these comments - an experience that really bonded all of us who grew up with this program! As a teacher now, I am really glad we don’t have it anymore. It obviously was pretty traumatic for most kids and I wouldn’t want to put my students through all that! But I’m proud to be able to relate to all these stories!

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