When I think back to my Trim and Fit (TAF) club days, I often feel a mixture of horror and amusement. On one hand, being specifically called out to join a programme created to help us lose weight felt incredibly embarrassing and pretty outrageous. On the other hand, TAF club gave me some of my fondest primary school memories. If you were a former TAF club member, you’d probably find some of these experiences familiar:
1. The PE teacher calling a specific group of us out of class to “talk”
Here we were, a group of eager kids under the impression we had won an award or something, only to be told by our PE teacher that we had all been recruited into a compulsory weight loss programme. None of us knew what to expect.
2. Going for all those compulsory health talks, which taught us how to “eat well”
All newly recruited TAF club members were required to attend health talks that seemed to go on forever. Common phrases like “you need to have a balanced diet” or “ try to exercise more” were on repeat.
3. Being part of an ambiguous-sounding club (that everyone knew was TAF club)
My school called us the “Well-Being Club” before later changing that name to “Star Club” after I graduated. Maybe this name change was an attempt to make us feel less ashamed of being a part of the club – well, it didn’t make much of a difference to us.
4. Getting to class all sweaty in the morning because of morning exercise
I remember getting to class dripping in sweat and reeking of body odour from morning exercise while I watched my classmates stream in, looking and smelling fresh as a daisy. At 10 years old, I often pondered the injustice of it all.
5. Strategising when to skip daily exercise so the PE teacher wouldn’t notice
“If I skipped exercise on Monday, then I should probably show up on Friday. But if Wednesday was a public holiday, would that matter?” This all required some very skilful planning and coordination. We just had to make sure we weren’t missing too many sessions in a row so the PE teacher wouldn’t notice.
6. Having the PE teacher call us out for skipping morning exercise (because our strategy failed)
Sometimes, we ended up skipping more exercise sessions than we actually attended. It just felt so good to be free… Of course, our teachers often noticed and called us out on it in front of all our friends.
7. Being offered healthier treats during recess but eating unhealthy canteen food after that
We were offered healthy treats like fruits, nutrition bars and cereal during recess, but a number of us would still go and buy some shiok canteen food afterwards. As Selena Gomez would say… The heart wants what it wants.
8. Bonding with newfound friends in TAF club
The exercises we had to do weren’t all bad – some of them were actually pretty fun. Sometimes, we got to do obstacle races and play games that let us really bond with our fellow TAF club members. We were in it together and would always support one another.
9. Having to do weird performances for the school as a club
My “Well-Being Club” teachers thought it was a fantastic idea to have us perform an item for Sports Day. Those interested would have to go for dance practice in the mornings in place of attending daily morning exercise. (I opted for the dance option because I wanted to enjoy the air-con in the dance studio. I was not about that sweaty life). When Sports Day finally came around, we all awkwardly busted a move to Destiny Child’s “Lose my Breath”. I realize now how unfortunate a song choice that was, given our situation.
10. Dreading height and weight sessions because that determined our fate in the club
This was every TAF club member’s day of reckoning. When we stepped on that scale, we made sure to take a deep breath, hoping it would somehow make a difference on our weights – we all wanted out.
Am I glad that TAF club finally got cancelled in 2007? Yes, very much so. It was a period of time when I felt pretty self-conscious about my body and when I often worried about what my peers would think about me because of my weight. But to be fair, it wasn’t all bad. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve made in the club and for some of the teachers who did try their best to make TAF club more fun for us. From time to time, I even find myself chuckling over that ridiculous dance number we had to do on Sports Day.
TAF club didn’t quite work for me but I can’t speak for everybody. How was your TAF club experience like? Let us know in the comments below!
For more on body pride, read How To Love Your Body – Imperfections And All