I just went for a run, and I was thinking about how odd it is that I, somebody who avoided all forms of physical activity as much as humanly possible all through my youth and young adulthood, have somehow become an “athlete.” I put it in quotes because I don’t really think of myself as such, I’m just somebody who runs and works out regularly. This week so far I’ve run at least 1o miles, which is nothing to a serious runner, but pretty substantial for anyone else.
I was never, ever on a sports team in high school, I avoided physical eduction and managed to find an out by joining the marching band – that’s right, I never even took PE in high school because I found out I could get PE credits for band. I wasn’t kidding when I said I avoided exercise like the plague back then. I knew I was no good at it – uncoordinated, out of shape, overweight – putting myself out there to do it would have been torture to me both physically and emotionally.
But now I run or lift weights or do aerobics or yoga or dance 5 or 6 days a week. But I didn’t say I do it well. I do it about like you’d expect somebody with zero history of athletic achievement to do it: Badly.
I don’t care, I actually enjoy doing it badly because I know a secret: With exercise you get points for trying whether you win the Olympics or shuffle along like a wounded pigeon. And by points I mean calories burned. I show up to Zumba a few times a month and I flail around like a confused chicken. While everybody else is “shaking it” I’m stuttering it around enthusiastically. I try to find a big empty space in the studio for my Zumba-ing because I know I’m liable to lash out and backhand somebody with one of my errant limbs at any time. Nobody’s grading me now, I can Zumba as stupidly as I want. And every time I try a new form of exercise there’s a chance it could be something I’ll enjoy and keep doing, and whether I find I’m good at it or not, I’m still moving my body and burning calories while I’m doing it.
So yeah – the running. It’s not fast, it’s not graceful, nor powerful, but I burn about 12 calories a minute for every minute I do it, and that puts a smile on my face. I get points for trying.