I have a vivid memory from probably 10th grade – a friend of mine who was in the track and field team had a few bring-a-friend days and she invited me to some training sessions.
My only experience with exercise had been from PE classes which I disliked greatly. Mostly because I had glasses and was afraid of breaking them (a few times I did break them), but also because the classes were dished out as punishment, not as enjoyment, and absolutely everything we did was something to suffer through with as little embarrassment as possible. I do not have any memories of PE being fun.
Now those training sessions I did with my friend – I don’t remember anything but running on the track but I remember how I felt during the week (maybe two) – I felt amazing.
I walked around with a smile on my face because I was “training”. I wasn’t going to aerobics because I was afraid of getting fat (you only went to aerobics if you were afraid of getting fat), it wasn’t humiliating PE and scary things like rope climbs and high jumps. It was sport. By choice.
This probably doesn’t make sense to most people who didn’t grow up in the former Soviet Union and I realise now, looking back, that I’ve always liked having a label, having a “team”.
It’s empowering to me to be able to say “I am a runner” or “I am a Crossfitter”.
I have never liked going to gym classes (still can’t stand those things) because I cannot say “I am an exerciser”. That just doesn’t do it for me. I need a sport.
On Sunday my 10-year old completed his first triathlon. He’s not naturally sporty, but he trained hard with his team for the past 12 weeks and completed the event with a smile on his face.
He is so lucky that he lives where he lives and that he’s given a chance to participate in things like that even though he’s not in any of the school’s A teams for any sport.
When I saw all the girls battle it out with the boys like total badasses, I was choked up for a long time – I would have had a totally different life and health and body image if somebody had given me the chance to do some sport when I was little.
But better late than never. And that’s why I’m fitter than ever and who knows – maybe by the time I qualify as a “master” I’ll do some serious top level competing. I seriously don’t think that idea is too far fetched, I seem to only get better with age :)