I’ve always hated exercise. If there’s a choice between vegging out on the couch or playing an exhilarating game of tennis, the couch wins every time. Except. . .except. . . I’ve exercised so much during my life, I now get withdrawal pains if I neglect fitness.
I think my revulsion came from my lack of athletic ability along with my small stature and my delayed physical maturation. I learned I’d never be better than anyone else at physical prowess, so I didn’t want to compete at all. Bodies male and female that consist of absolutely trim and toned musculature discourage me because I know I’ll never look like that.
Because I grew up during a time when children walked to school and activities, and recess and p.e. were part of the schedule, I had a basic level of fitness that’s stood me in good stead. Then came college where I fell in love with dancing. So about nine hours a week for four straight years, I pranced and shimmied, jerked and ponied with the best.
Since then, my husband and I have egged each other on to maintain a minimum level of exercise. He’s been more of an egger-on than I, but together we’ve jogged, walked, biked, lifted weights, and one hideous summer even hiked up mountains. We’ve been so consistent, I feel ill and depressed if we don’t move something somewhere several times a week.
Which brings me to my local YMCA. The people there who inspire me are the people who lack native talent or who have physical challenges. They put forth so much more effort and are dedicated far beyond the scope of the guy flexing his well defined biceps or the sculpted feminine version. The woman in my Zumba class who has cerebral palsy but lives and breathes every tune. The older man who’s suffered several falls and broken bones but appears regularly to work out in splints and casts.
Then there’s the fellow I spotted today. He’s near-blind (carries a white cane) and has other obvious physical abnormalities that make using equipment a supreme challenge. Yet there he was, striding on a treadmill, pulling on various weight-lifting machines. As I huffed and puffed through my mediocre routine, I was glad I’d suppressed my native reluctance and had chosen to come to the gym. My inspiration to keep up the habit was right in front of me.