I literally failed gym class. One semester in Junior High School I actually got an “F” for failure to participate. I pretended to be too cool for volleyball, but in reality I was just terrified of missing the ball.
When I was forced to participate in organized sports I was often last picked. I was actually a well-liked kid, but the others knew I would simply be worthless.
I was convinced from a young age that I would never be even the slightest bit athletic. I come from a long line of bench-sitters and butterfly-chasers. My parents tried, in their way, with my father signing up for his steel company to sponsor my little league team. But the chants of, “You can do it!” just added to my complete and utter fear of the ball. So I stayed far out in right field and in my little league photo you can actually see a tear on my cheek because I was “cold.”
What I wish for my 9-year-old self is that someone would have sat down with me and said the right things. It is only now, at 34, that I know what those right things would have been. I needed to understand that my perceived lack of coordination was only in my mind. Asthma didn’t mean that I couldn’t run. There was no reason why I could not catch a ball. I just needed the confidence to actually know that. I didn’t have to love field hockey. But I should never have let the belief that I wasn’t a good dancer keep me from trying out from the 11th grade musical. (I did, however, do a mean box step in the 12th grade production of “The Sound of Music.”)
My 4-year-old has loads of energy and I have seen him do some impressive broad jumps. But, like many preschoolers, he has his fears – going down the fireman pole at the playground, walking across the balance beam unassisted. We don’t pressure him because we want to give him the chance to find his own strength.
But we do set an example. Because even if he never has a love for sports, fitness will always be a part of his childhood. He comes to the gym to watch mommy practice her exercises and sometimes we do fun family workouts at home. He watched himself go from riding his scooter into walls to being an absolute speed demon. We take long walks and practice made up karate moves.
So, even though I am in the bottom 10% of Crossfit Open Games participants, I remind myself that I am competing against the fittest people in the world! So I won’t phone it in and try to do the beginner level of Festivus again using having a baby a year ago as an excuse. Because even if I come in dead last in the intermediate division, I am still able to actually compete. I can do double unders. I can swing a 35 pound kettlebell overhead ad nauseum. I can hit the 9 foot mark with the 14 pound wall ball at least a few times. And I can jump on the 20 inch box (even though the standards have us literally walking over the box, the athletic equivalent of vacuuming.
So stay tuned. I am sure I will blog about how grueling it all was and how shameful it was to be beat by all the beginner level athletes. So I will need you all to tell me those right things…