In Your Words: There is No Prerequisite for Fitness
Editor’s Note: This week’s “In Your Words” article is written by Sarah Flach, DSC’s Membership Coordinator and Teen Strength and Conditioning Trainer. Sarah is also the head girls’ soccer coach at Carroll High School, and sister of owner Adam Rogers.
There are endless inspirational messages that are meant to help us be healthier. To help us get our butts in the gym and into shape. For some people those work – they can tape them up to their mirror and glance at them in the morning and set off to the gym with a pep in their step.
I, however, am not one of those people. Not because I don’t enjoy being active. In fact, being active has always been part of my identity. When that went away, I began to struggle. When I no longer had a team counting on me to be able to run a decent mile time (and by decent, I mean try to keep Becky in sight as I stumble around the track, wondering who took all the oxygen out of the air), or to have the strength to hold off a defender pulling me down in the box, my life seemed to change. I didn’t fall out of shape and become unhealthy overnight, but looking back it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Even though it was a series of bad decisions and apathy, it was never a conscious choice to be inactive and unhealthy.
Then one day I decided things should change. I missed being comfortable in my body and I wanted to have that feeling of being strong and athletic again. I had some success when I became more aware of what I ate, but then my husband and I decided to grow humans. This threw my body into a whole new universe of confusion. After growing human #3, I was lost for a while on how even to start feeling comfortable in my body.
I even had the unfair advantage of having family that owned a small, but mighty gym and I wanted to get in there and find my groove, but whenever I would go to workout all I would see is very motivated people who seemed perfectly fit and beautifully happy.
This always seemed to intimidate me. Everyone knew what they were doing with all the equipment and gave off an air of confidence that I didn’t have. I was embarrassed at how unfit I was and then to be in a gym full of people who were, in my eyes, healthy and fit and perfect, was overwhelming and made me feel very vulnerable.
At the time, I felt like I was in a spotlight whenever I was in there and everyone was noticing I was lost and that I didn’t even know how to use half the equipment.
This is when I decided that I needed to get in shape BEFORE I could really be a regular gym-goer.
Go ahead and read that sentence again…..I know, it’s ridiculous, but it was perfectly logical to me. I would feel less embarrassed about my physical state if I put in a little work on my own first, I could research and figure out what all the fancy equipment is for so I didn’t look like such a newbie and then I would fit in….again, reading over that sentence seems preposterous.
Who really researches which plates you are supposed to use for which movement or when to use a squat rack? Or why do some people use pounds while others use kilograms (I have yet to figure this one out). I wanted to work out to be able to work out.
The story continues about how you would expect. I wasn’t doing things on my own before that point to get in shape so why would anything change now? It didn’t change and I continued down that road for longer than I care to admit. It finally got to the point where my ego was getting in the way of my health.
With a little tough love from those that I love, I swallowed my pride and got my ass in the gym.
You know what I found? I am an idiot. Turns out there was no spotlight on me that people were watching. When there was a piece of equipment that I didn’t know, everyone was so helpful to teach me how. Rather than it being ‘me’ and ‘them’ in the gym, it was more like ‘us’. I never felt judged or embarrassed about my journey back to health.
Everyone is in the gym doing their thing for themselves, for whatever reason they may have – rehabbing an injury, keeping up with grandkids, trying to be healthier, competing in fitness events or getting their summer body. No one, outside of the voices in my head, cares or even talks about why I am there and it’s egotistical for me to have thought that in the first place.
They lend their support when I need it, and I love having a community of people who are all on different but parallel journeys to health, strength and self-improvement. My main regret is that it took me so long to get going and that I lost too much time because I was so nervous and self-involved that I didn’t stop to think that all of us are on our own journeys.
But seriously, who has time to worry about someone else’s path when it’s hard enough to find the right path for yourself? Even though I have not reached where I want to be along my fitness path (let’s be honest, who ever does…) I am exponentially happier now that I am actively driving down my path towards my goals rather than being a passenger. I have to remind myself daily to check my ego at the door and be open to being vulnerable with my gym village (#TeamDSC).
So this is my promise to you: there is no prerequisite for fitness. Get in the gym if you want to, and don’t let your self-awareness or ego stop you from starting a journey that you won’t regret.