I Was A Sidelined Sporty Spice

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.” Wilt Chamberlain

Four years ago I was driven and dedicated, not just to the gym, but to myself. I maintained steady control and discipline over my body and the barrage of invasive thoughts. Five or six days a week I found solace in my body’s growing ability and strength. Discovering my passion for fitness through weightlifting, aerobic and isometric exercise brought on a whole new world.

Last June, when my gym started offering morning boot camp classes, they didn’t fit with my 12 hour work rotation. My co-worker, Katie and I, decided to create our own. Three times a week, we buckled down with warm up walking, meaningful stretching and HIIT (high intensity interval training). Our last workout before the cold shut us down consisted of squat jumps, tricep dips, weighted lunges, sprinting and running bleachers.

“I’m not athletic.”

Robert stared at me in confusion. My statement was so bold and definitive. Robert had known me prior to my enthusiasm for exercise and had watched my transformation over the years.

During my elementary years, I tentatively tried a couple seasons of t-ball, then moved onto basketball. I was meek and lost. Growing up, sports were never valued in my house. To this day, I still haven’t picked a side between University of Michigan and Michigan State, let alone Alabama and Auburn. Neither of my parents were naturally gifted in the area of sports. Although, they allowed me to join in and bought the equipment, the physical direction and support weren’t available. I still remember sunny days spent alone with my t-ball stand. The ball was attached to a string and I would reel it in and try again. I liked it, I wanted to be good.

At 14, I was awkward and heavy. The last thing my self-conscious, pale skinned, menstruating self wanted, was to be wearing white shorts and looked upon. Volleyball didn’t interest me but it was the only sport the conservative church school I attended allowed girls to play at the time. Confidence in my athleticism was null. I tried but spent my time counting down the minutes. Gym class caused me anxiety. Whether I was ready to serve, up to bat or standing beneath a net, I felt eyes boring into me. I collapsed under the pressure every time.

Sports made me feel like a loser.

Later on in high school, I never fully ran the mile but I found that I loved running around after a soccer ball. Field hockey was also fun and piqued my interest but those days in class were few and far between. At the time there weren’t ways for me to further pursue those interests. Junior year when I transferred back into the public school system I secretly yearned to join the soccer team. I never told anyone, never tried out. They wouldn’t want me, I wasn’t an athlete. These are just more examples of the lies our anxiety whisper in our ear.

My mid-twenties were when I started my venture into fitness. I surprised everyone, including myself. These days my anxiety is better understood and controlled. I found what works for me and that has given me the confidence to try the things I spent years telling myself I couldn’t accomplish. Do I think I can magically hit a home run now? No, but I can face the plate, find my stance, remember to breathe and try.


*Featured Image by Leon Martinez from Pexels

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