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.


Shane's picture
Shane on May 30, 2009 - 05:11 Permalink

I now have 4 children, 2 boys and two girls, and they are all very athletic, and ask about our school programs and what we did in phys. ed. It brings back good memories,and the fun times we had. I won the award of excellence twice, and my wife won the award of excellence 3 times. We have fun working out with them and it makes you feel young again, and brings back the good and fun memories.

Mark's picture
Mark on June 19, 2009 - 18:33 Permalink

Antoinette, Nov 26 2008. For those of you wanting a link to the 5BX for men and the SBX for women, visit the following url for free downloads of both.…

Best Regards

Lisa's picture
Lisa on June 28, 2009 - 02:53 Permalink

Does anyone know who to petition to get the program re-instated? To whom can we send a copy of this thread?

I also rememebr the progam fondly and have a series of badge sewn on a badge blanket. I homeschool and as hoping the program was still active. Sad to see that it is not and that it was canned due to the fact that some kids could not achieve. Some kids do not achive A plus on math tests, but we still do math. Faulty Logic Kills Good Idea… ugh.

The CFP was one of those national pride buliding things. Corner Gas had it dead on, as usual. One of the last great things our nation achieved.

Willie's picture
Willie on July 15, 2009 - 18:55 Permalink

Yes, I rememember this Fitness test. I was so proud because I was the only kid in my Grade 6 class to get the Award of Excellence badge. Don’t know how I did it, but the flexed arm hang was the toughest test. Even though these tests are now obsolete in terms of measuring fitness, it got kids back then to get more more involved in physical fitness, kids nowaday are too much of a coach potato, playing video games instead of going outside and play. Lets bring back some form of fun fitness testing in the school system.

Dan's picture
Dan on August 23, 2009 - 17:23 Permalink

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
Anonymousx on September 6, 2009 - 19:14 Permalink…

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?

R's picture
R on September 14, 2009 - 11:43 Permalink

A copy of the CFT would be much appreciated!

Thank you.

Ronster's picture
Ronster on October 27, 2009 - 20:53 Permalink

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.

Jimmy's picture
Jimmy on October 28, 2009 - 01:52 Permalink

Please forward me the information you have collected. I would appreciate it greatly as my sons hockey team has started dry land training. Could be fun for the kids to try — and the parents too!

jason's picture
jason on October 30, 2009 - 04:15 Permalink

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.

jason's picture
jason on October 30, 2009 - 04:17 Permalink

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

jason's picture
jason on October 30, 2009 - 04:26 Permalink

would you be able to email me a pic of the aoe?
would be very appreciated.
thanks in advance.
jason, vancouver canada

Phys. Ed. Guy's picture
Phys. Ed. Guy on November 17, 2009 - 00:26 Permalink

The distance between the blocks/beanbags was 10m. Start on the floor in prone position with forehead touching line. On go signal, run to other end, pick up block, return to start, exchange blocks, back to far end exchange blocks, run through finish line. Take best of two trials.

maryanne's picture
maryanne on January 1, 2010 - 22:49 Permalink

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.

Greeber's picture
Greeber on January 18, 2010 - 15:43 Permalink

Would there be anyway that you could scan the booklet? Or, share the important information from it? ie. the standards to achieve each level.
BTW congrats on the AoE!

Michel Forget's picture
Michel Forget on March 27, 2010 - 18:42 Permalink

Do you still have a copy of the Canada Fitness Test, I have been looking for it for a few years and would appreciate having a copy.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on June 13, 2010 - 00:24 Permalink

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
mgmjetta on June 17, 2010 - 03:10 Permalink

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
Blaine on June 17, 2010 - 17:51 Permalink

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
wow! on August 27, 2010 - 00:33 Permalink

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
Hecubus on September 16, 2010 - 16:14 Permalink

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
Erin on September 21, 2010 - 04:25 Permalink

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
Casey H on October 29, 2010 - 22:26 Permalink

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 young…is it just me, or is today’s technology promoting lazyness?

Lunny's picture
Lunny on January 13, 2011 - 18:45 Permalink

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!).

R's picture
R on July 23, 2011 - 14:03 Permalink

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.

Jeff Griffith's picture
Jeff Griffith on August 26, 2011 - 19:27 Permalink

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.

Tobla's picture
Tobla on August 27, 2011 - 23:12 Permalink

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 picture
John on September 19, 2011 - 18:47 Permalink

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”

John S's picture
John S on September 20, 2011 - 21:47 Permalink

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
Paul on November 14, 2011 - 03:03 Permalink

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&#39s 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&#39s 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.   

Karen Knight's picture
Karen Knight on November 18, 2011 - 20:16 Permalink

I would love a copy.  My son is eight, and I think it would be fun to see how he does on it; he loves exercising — so long as it&#39s not called work!


Jason's picture
Jason on November 20, 2011 - 16:30 Permalink

I don&#39t think there&#39s anything wrong with rating people on their natural ability and giving awards. It&#39s 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&#39t 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.

Patricia's picture
Patricia on December 6, 2011 - 05:14 Permalink

I have no idea if you still have the chart on the Canadian fitness program, but if you do I would love to get a copy.   Our little elementary school is celebrating it&#39s 100th yr in May 2012.  They have asked past students to put together “things from the past”  and I was asked to put together  a display about the participACTION program.   I have all the awards but needed the write up and what the expected times were for each age group.   I have had no luck so far finding any information…not even from the Canadian govenment.   Go figure.   I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me out.


thank you

Patricia's picture
Patricia on December 6, 2011 - 05:20 Permalink

I do hope you still have a copy.   My local elementary school is celebrating 100 yrs and have asked me to put together a display regarding the CFP.   Please let me know if you can fwd me a copy.

Patricia's picture
Patricia on December 6, 2011 - 20:59 Permalink

thank you thank you for doing this for your students.   yes you will get your whiners, who likes to &#39work&#39, 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&#39s 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&#39s “participACTION&#39.   What I really need are the &#39scores&#39 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. 

jason's picture
jason on December 7, 2011 - 23:48 Permalink

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&#39t see a site where we put down all those tests. Let&#39s 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&#39t tell our kids that they are well below any standard level of fitness as we may hurt their feelings. Well we can&#39t 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&#39s 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&#39t get in shape. These test are proof and evidence that by god if you can&#39t 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.

Sean Culligan's picture
Sean Culligan on April 11, 2012 - 20:52 Permalink

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
Melanie on May 8, 2012 - 16:43 Permalink

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
Sam on October 3, 2012 - 18:09 Permalink

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.

Sam's picture
Sam on October 3, 2012 - 18:12 Permalink

I agree!!!

Leif Timmermans's picture
Leif Timmermans on February 21, 2013 - 19:10 Permalink

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
CJM on January 22, 2014 - 17:37 Permalink

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.

shannon Morrow's picture
shannon Morrow on April 22, 2014 - 01:50 Permalink

I am also looking for these charts — if you’re still around — any chance you could email me what you have? Thanks

erik abildgaard's picture
erik abildgaard on February 17, 2016 - 21:38 Permalink

I loved this but only girls got the crests because they didn't have enough for boys.i was crushed because I did so well award of excellance set record for school boys 17 was standing long jump to get gold 7'6 " I jumped 8'2" at 12 in in chinup hang like 85 seconds situps 61/min.i did 60 yrds in 9 sec .ball throw a master I became decathalon provincial champ 2 years in a run ultras.never did know just how good the 8'2" jump was nationally it impressed the school officials though.did it again at field days same year 8'0"

Brian Champagne's picture
Brian Champagne on May 22, 2020 - 01:40 Permalink

I managed to be awarded 9 Excellent awards from 1977 to 1985. has anyone every received more than that?