Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sporty Sunday: Not Gonna Miss a Thing

One night, during my college years, my friends and I “borrowed” a canoe and rowed across a lake by starlight. It was a perfect, warm summer night, made even more perfect by the thrill of an illicitly obtained boat and the soft splashes of our paddles. Our destination was a rope swing on the far side of the lake. Attached to a sturdy tree, the rope dangled over a sharp drop into deep water. One brave soul captured the rope’s end and scrambled up the embankment with its tail. We gathered expectantly at the base of the tree. The first swinger balanced on the tree’s knobby roots, grasping a knot near the end of the rope. Initially, the rope was slack, but once the jumper leapt into space, it snapped taut and swung in a wide arc over the water. With a hoot, he released the line and dropped into the dark lake.

One by one my friends swung into the void, to be rewarded by a cool splash. They returned to do it again. I remained at the base of the tree.

I wasn’t afraid of the drop or the water. I was afraid of that moment when the rope tightened under the load. At that point, still dangling over the shoreline, I didn’t think my arms could support my sudden weight and I’d fall onto the rocks. No amount of coaching or demonstrations or encouragement could persuade me to give it a try. Instead, I enviously watched my athletic friends perform the trick over and over while I cursed my physical weakness.

My college friends were a cheerleader, a water polo player, and two cross country runners. I’d left home thinking I was athletic (I’d once rode my steel-framed Toys R Us bike in a 50 mile race), but they left me in their dust. We ran, we hiked, we played soccer, we climbed rocks, and I was always the straggler. I was a game straggler, though. I may not have swung from the rope, but I always tried to keep up. Together, we explored the Olympic peninsula, the Cascade Mountains, and the country of Ecuador. Along the way, I developed a love of adventure and a determination not to let my body keep me from it.

I have many adventures planned for my life. Most of them are of the non-sedentary variety. I want to spend an entire summer hiking Yosemite. I want to play water polo. I want to dance in another musical. More immediately, I plan to race up Pike’s Peak. I work out because I want to be ready for adventures, planned and not planned (you know, like the zombie apocalypse!) I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because I’m too weak.

And I would sure like another crack at that rope swing! Kowabunga.

What motivates you to work out?

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!


Sheila said...

This is so inspiring! You're so right - we shouldn't let our physical shape hold us back from what we really want to do. I feel bad for your former self, for missing out on that rope swing.

My favourite work outs are actually play-oriented, like playing Ultimate. For the first time in my life, I have felt joy when playing a sport - it's incredible.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I was flabby until the summer before college when I worked a factory job that kick-started a fit period in my life of about 3 years. Then I had kids and spent more than 20 years out of shape. For the past 20 months I have been exercising again. I lost 30+ pounds and have kept it off. My motivation for staying with it is that I never want to miss another fun/exciting experience because I am too weak or too tired or too embarrassed. AND I desperately want to avoid my family's curse of diabetes!
Better at 46

Fluffy Turtle said...

I can relate to these stories, and it's nice to know I'm not the only one who has spent time staring at the pack ahead of her! I promised myself when I was 18 that I would spend my life always trying new sports, and that I would remain active in every decade of life. Three decades later I'm still living that promise and along the way I have kept in shape and have many fantastic memories of shared adventures, sports that worked for me...and others that didn't.
Life is meant to be lived, right?!!

Carolrawinia said...

I train because I want to be fit and strong for as long as I can. I like the idea of being a really old woman pushing weights in the gym and jumping in the pool afterwards.

annabananna said...

I too strive for fewer things on my "I can't" list. I do have a strong fear of embarrassment which I can see now holds me back sometimes, but it also makes crazier things (like circus acrobatics) easier to approach because you know *everybody* will be in the same boat. And aside from that, I get inspired by watching action movies. I want to be able to escape a bad guy (hello running) and haul myself up a building or to the top of a cliff (strength training), if I ever find myself in those situations.
All that, plus seeing people I perceive as less fit than me doing great things. No excuses!
Love your Sporty Sunday posts :)

Lola said...

Ha, Shallow Me just wants to look good! Well, mostly...

One side of my family tends toward inactivity, bone loss, and general bad health--they live to be a thousand, but they are miserable. Soooo in the back of my mind, or underneath it all, I suppose I work out (which I don't enjoy, in part because it takes soooo long) because I am guessing I'll live to be a thousand and want to be healthy and happy.

Zazzu said...

I exercise primarily for the endorphin surge. My favorite drug.

Then for energy/stamina. The clock is always ticking and I need to have the physical fortitude to push myself until everything's done.

As I age, I'm seeing more of my contemporaries injure themselves just reaching for things or twisting the wrong way. I'm trying to prevent that because I don't want to waste time recovering from something preventable.

Jenna said...

I exercise to keep myself fit and active and to raise funds for charities.
I don't do many sports, I go to the gym. I swim, cycle and run because I've taken up triathlons.
At university I did scuba diving and remember during a week away joining the rest of the diving club as we jumped of a 30 foot high quayside into the sea and then climbed on top of a four foot high pillar that was only about 3 foot wide on top and jumping into the sea from there. It almost got me over my dislike of heights.

Anonymous said...

I work out because I am 42 with a 4-year-old and I want to keep up with her for a long time!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love the idea of one's body being ready for adventure. It's an incredibly inspriational thought. I'll keep it in mind for my dreaded lunchtime workout!

Adrienne said...

I see your motivation for keeping fit it makes sense to me.
When I was young I was that person ahead of the pack and I abused my body. Now in late middle age I've suffered and had to have a hip replacement and a knee replacement. I am hoping to gain a modicum of in shape again so I can continue to enjoy life. I never want to be wheelchair bound in old age.