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Our wonderful physi memories….

In this post – Mrs Janelle Aldous reminisces about her memories of Physical Culture  – 65 years since she first started ‘physi’. First with BJP and then from 1961 with the Edith Parsons School of Physical Culture in its inaugural year.

Janelle is a well respected and much loved physi veteran who works tirelessly to support Putney PCC – taking the fees, handing out reminder notices, helping with the little ones and generally lending a supportive ear. This year will be Janelle’s 20th year with the Putney club. Janelle still competes both individually and in team competitions against much younger ladies mastering the same syllabus as ladies more than 45 years her junior.

In 2015 Janelle competed in the Advanced Ladies Masters (over 60 years) competition gaining a well deserved 5th place.


Tell us about what EP physi was like in the early years – what are some of the memories that stick out for you? 

The one thing that stands out for me, was in 1961 when I attended Drummoyne Presbyterian P C Club.  Teach came to visit each of the clubs in her new school, just before comps and encouraged us to all compete.

I remember so much about that day – I had my hair set- at the hairdressers (for only the second time in my life),  Mum came to comps with me (she had never been before), we thought we were running late, and while waiting for the bus to take us to town- ( which didn’t seem to be coming) mum hailed a taxi! (Unheard of!) I ended up drilling in the first heat, and my number was the very first number called out, to compete in the semi-finals. I was so surprised I didn’t know what to do! I had been drilling for 10 years and had never been out of a heat before. I was very nervous while waiting to drill again and a teacher (I think Shirley Bullock – Concord Wesley PCC) spoke to me and reassured me that I would be alright.

How have the leotards, ballets and uniform designs changed over the years?

When I first joined in 1951 (I think) we wore soft black ballets called practice ballets, and white socks. The uniform was a short red tunic over a white blouse. A couple of years later for a team we wore brown and beige Sundeck linen uniform with a waist, four gore skirt and a side zipper. The highlight of this uniform was the addition of green ric rac braid trim, still with black bloomers, black ballets and white socks. There were eight girls in a team and we juniors did folk dancing, as a team dance, dancing in pairs around a circle, skipping into the centre or around your partner (that sort of thing). Very different to today. As I got older the uniforms changed a bit, but still with a side zipper and four or six gored skirt – sometimes with a collar or different coloured trim or braid. Sleeveless of course.

By the time E P Physi started I was a senior and we still had uniforms as before, but proper black ballets, and Teach insisted we wear black swami pants over another pair of briefs – didn’t matter even if the uniform was white! And we wore ‘March On’ to make our legs look brown.

How different is physi today from when you started?

Each club had their own pianist, who played for class and played for your own team in competitions. Sometimes the pianists were nervous and played something wrong and the team was penalised.

Of course in those days, Teach did all the choreography, dictated the work to the Teachers in Teachers Class and maybe showed them something that was tricky. I think from memory the work wasn’t quite as detailed as it is these days.

What do you enjoy about doing physi now? What do you feel are the main benefits of doing physi as a lady?
I have loved Physi from when I first started – I enjoy the exercise, mentally and physically, I’m sure it has helped with my posture and kept me young – many people think I am at least 10 years younger than I am. The fun and fellowship in class and at comps, when you see friends who you have competed against for years and you greet like long lost cousins – and sadly at my age, looking to see who is now missing, because of injury or illness being unable to drill anymore.

The best club I attended was Alicians, a Business house Club for 1st, 2nd and Senior girls only, which Teach herself taught. In 1962 when I started there, there were grand Finalists from 1961, including Grand Champion Girl- Barbara Hayes in the class and we learnt to listen to Teach’s answers to anyone’s questions, because that was how you learnt. Good training!

I have been a member of 7 different clubs, but will finish at Putney, which I rejoined in 1997. I have talked about just drilling this year and not competing, but Carolyn might have something to say about that.

Another plus for me is that Physi is for all ages. One of my daughters and two grand-daughters have drilled or are still drilling. It is a thrill for me to see them trying their best in competitions.

There have been many other changes over the years, but Physi is still a big part of my life. If anyone had said in 1951 that I would still be drilling in 2015 I would not have believed them. When I rejoined Putney in 1997, I didn’t think I would be still drilling in 5 years to get one of Carolyn’s awards. However I have enjoyed being at the one club with the same teacher for the last 19 years.  But I am sorry Carolyn, you are a very good teacher, picking us up on all the little details, but the best teacher I had was Miss Parsons (Teach) for the five years I drilled as a Senior Girl.



More getting to know our club – Amy

Some more getting to know our club – this time an interview with Amy Jones – a long time and loyal Putney club member. Amy competes in the Open Seniors section and has reached the State Grand Finals at Sydney Town Hall every year since she was 5 years old – an incredible 21 consecutive years!


You’ve been doing physie since you were very little – tell us some of the highlights?

For me, the biggest highlight would have to have been winning the 10 years section in 2000. I was so determined to win, I would practice the winners march in my lounge room until I knew it off by heart. That was a fantastic day and I still remember how excited, emotional and happy I was that my dream came true. My other highlight would be reaching State Grand Final Status 21 years in a row. It is such an amazing achievement to reach this status at any age but to have made it every year since I was five and grace the beautiful Town Hall stage to showcase my work is something I never take for granted but am always thankful for. My final highlight would have to be competing as an open senior. It is my sixth year as an open and I am competing with girls who I have admired and idolised since I was a little girl. To be able to compete as an open alongside these beautiful physie girls is quite surreal.


What do you enjoy most about physie? 

I love the competitions. I know that sounds crazy but I love being on stage, I always have. Performing is my escape and my love and to be able to perfect a skill such as physie for 10 months of the year and then go out onto a stage and perform the work is such a satisfying feeling, especially when you don’t wobble or make any mistakes, that’s when you know all your hard work has paid off. I also enjoy the social aspect of physie. I have met some beautiful friends through physie, some of whom attended my 18th & 21st birthdays. Physie is such a wide spread community and to have friends all over the state that you have met through a sport like ours is truly special. I also now count some of my physie idols as my friends. I still pinch myself when I get a text from Melissa Brailey, because I have idolised her since I was a little girl and now we are friends who have catch-ups over a few glasses of wine in the off season. I also love that the senior girls who have been competing for a few years longer than me are always so encouraging and telling me to never give up as I will reach my ultimate goals in the future. Their words are always kind and beautiful and that’s probably what I love the most, that no matter what club we go to, every girl is so lovely to one another and that is one of the aspects that I enjoy about physie the most; The gorgeous girls who I compete with.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to learning the work, critiquing and perfecting myself. I want to be better than last year. I aim to always better myself every year. I have a goal, I am yet to reach it but I am determined to do it this year. I am excited to get back to class, become fitter and challenge myself!


Getting to know our club!

Margot started physi at a very young age after tagging along with her big sisters for many years – in 2015 Margot competed in the 5 year old section and came 2nd at the State Grand Final at Sydney Town Hall.

Here are Margot’s thoughts about physi:

~Whats the best thing about doing physi?~
I like the dance. Its really fun. I like seeing my friends Bronte and Georgie. 

~Whats the funniest thing that ever happened at physi?~
Every time we do the birthday circle we all laugh and fall down.

~What are you looking forward to this year?~
Going back to physi, seeing Mrs Frame and my friends and finding out what all the songs are. I hope we get Frozen again.

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