I went an entire season without scoring a basket for my junior high basketball team. Soccer was even worse – I didn’t score a goal the entire time I played. I tried my hand at cheerleading in high school but also hung out with kids who donned “Theater” varsity jackets. Yes, you read that right. To state the obvious: I was not what you would consider “athletic.”
During college, I was a regular at my school’s rec center, but only went through the motions. I thought working out meant mindlessly running on a treadmill or doing the same set of crunches over and over again. I thought workouts were intimidating and inaccessible. I was bored, unmotivated and blamed my lack of enthusiasm on the fact that I just wasn’t good at working out.
All that changed once I graduated. I moved to LA and was fortunate enough to share a block with Runyon Canyon. On my daily hikes, I began to learn that exercise can and should be enjoyable. I wasn’t just working my legs, toning my tummy, and working up a good sweat, as I climbed through the park, I was taking in the immaculate views of the Hollywood Hills, laughing at the dogs who were also regulars there, and soaking up that California sunshine. Sometimes I listened to music, sometimes I hiked with friends, but I always left feeling better than when I arrived.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a lot of great activities: paddle boarding in the Pacific, hiking through the Scottish Highlands, and snorkeling in Mexico. Were all of these activities exercise? Yes. But more than that, they were experiences that nourished my mind and my body.
I still can’t catch a ball and if you challenged me to a game of basketball, I probably wouldn’t do much better than I did in seventh grade, but what has changed is how I view my abilities and myself. Asked now if I consider myself athletic, my answer would be yes. I may not subscribe to all definitions of the word, but I challenge my mind and body on a daily basis. I push my limits, try new things, and am not afraid to look a little goofy in the process. I may not be running on the treadmill but that’s only because I’m too busy running to my next yoga, Pilates or spin class. I’ve learned that exercise is so much more than sculpted arms (though those are a definite perk); it’s a way to take care of and reward the only thing that’s truly ours: our bodies.