I was not the most athletic kid. I ate processed carbs with the reckless abandon of a marathon runner and lacked the hand-eye coordination to play most sports (I have a wall of “participation awards” to prove this). Due to my chubby reality, I shirked middle school P.E. classes, often “accidentally” forgetting my gym bag at home. When the gym teachers saw through my duplicity, I stood frowning on the field hockey pitch, tricked out in ill-fitting garb from the lost and found, trying to avoid the ball as much as possible.
While this lifestyle was ultimately detrimental to my overall health and P.E. grade (I got a B-), at least it was a learning experience. As I matured, my nose adjusted to the smell of sweat and I began to see exercise as more than the time after Spanish and before lunch. Suddenly, it was so much more: an excuse to wear inspiring graphic tees, shorts no matter the season and eat two desserts because I “earned it.” I committed myself to this newfound athletic identity, convinced that with each modified push-up I was becoming a stronger, happier, healthier and generally more dope human being. This was not exactly the case.
As any Olympian (or Olympic spectator) will tell you, the road to athletic success is both literally and metaphorically rife with hurdles. For some, this hurdle may be the motivation to make it to Trudy when it is -30 degrees outside. Others may feel intimidated by the “gun show” taking place on the lower level. Personally, my aforementioned incoordination and general clumsiness have come to the forefront as particularly challenging.
Last summer, inspired by the almost Amazonian humidity outside, as well as the dismal reality of wearing a bathing suit in public, I embarked on a noble mission towards the treadmill. I was on vacation, and I sauntered into the hotel gym with the audacity of a Kardashian, helping myself to complimentary towels and cucumber water. My confidence was reaffirmed as I walked in only to see a lone octogenarian maxing out his lift at eight pounds; I thought to myself “I’m 18 years old. I’m in the prime of my life. I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.” I hopped on the treadmill and started jogging, until – vibing off my own physical and mental strength – I made the critical mistake of closing my eyes. My so-called “prime of life” body slammed into the still-moving treadmill not once, but twice, as I tried to maintain my waning physical prowess. The old man came to my side, seemingly concerned, asking “Are you ok?” to which I squealed “I’m FINE,” as I ran out of the gym choking back tears.
Thankfully, I was not thwarted and I have successfully been on a treadmill since. As well as teaching me never to underestimate an old man in a sweatband, falling off a treadmill reminded me that working out is not always smooth sailing. Just as Rome was not built in a day, neither is a body that is both physically attractive and invigoratingly healthy. Sometimes the most important part is just showing up, or as a wise graphic tee once told me: “Just Do It.”