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Fitness Boot Camp: Week 1

Running Shoes

These are not my shoes, but they sure are pretty. Photo credit: Flickr/Timothy Takemoto

One thing I love about this blog is that I can hijack it for my own narcissistic storytelling. Parent Hacks is only tangentially about me — which is PERFECT because I feel more comfortable (and helpful) as a community member than as a one-woman source of wisdom. But sometimes it’s fun to hog the mike.

So, this month, I will regale you with tales of my experience in Adventure Boot Camp. Joining an intensive exercise class is such a departure for me that I have to write about it.

I’ve never been a regular exerciser or payer-of-attention to my weight. One of the downsides of self-identifying as a “brainy kid” in school was that I rejected anything resembling “jock.” In my simplistic teenage mind, smart kids weren’t athletic. (The fact that one of the smartest kids in school was also one of the fastest runners didn’t touch that ridiculous prejudice.) Sports were intimidating, and, anyway, I had studying to do.

The adults and authority figures in my world thought my choices were just fine, and back-patted my academic performance all the way though college. And I went along, consistently favoring my mind over my body. When you’re young, you can have the luxury and ignorance of believing they are separate.

For fun (and to impress my boyfriend), I joined a college intramural softball team. Guess what? I was good! I wasn’t the greatest hitter, but I could catch and throw. I played shortstop, and to this day I remember the feeling of making my first double-play. It was my first, real, physical accomplishment, and it felt nothing like getting an A on a paper or an acknowledgement from a professor. It was an elemental satisfaction.

I loved it, but I then ignored it, chalking it up to a lucky moment. “I’m not athletic,” remember?

My next, great physical accomplishment happened 10 years later. The birth of my son. I’ll spare you the details, but his birth was the most physically demanding thing I had ever done. In those 16 hours I discovered more about myself than in the previous 10 years. My mind and body were connected in a way that made their separation seem nonsensical. The elemental satisfaction I felt on the playing field? Multiply it by a million.

If you were to look at my life since then — the life of a juggling mother of two — you’d wonder why I once again ignored the discovery of my body’s wisdom. I fell into the same trap so many of us do: I became “too busy” to take care of myself. Too busy to exercise, more concerned with everyone else’s needs, not noticing (or ignoring) the obvious signs of neglect and burnout.

Oh, I joined a gym for a while, and started Couch to 5K (but didn’t finish). I had some remarkable moments when I pushed myself physically, including bursting into tears at the end of a yoga class, but I refused to embrace the significance of those moments.

As a result of my Happy/Sad List, I realized that most of my happiest times have been, if not athletic, then active. I’ve also accepted that I can no longer rely on my youth for my strength and health. Physical activity has to be a part of my life.

Not long after, a friend playfully strong-armed me into joining her at Boot Camp. No, really. The woman is buffed.

I’m kidding. This friend did what good friends do, which was to encourage me to leave the stagnancy of my comfort zone, and to take care of myself. It doesn’t hurt that she’s one of the smartest people I know, and she talks eloquently about how the physical challenge has affected her. I was scared, but I trusted her, and before I thought about it too much, I signed up.

I’ve just completed Day 3. I’m hobbling around the house like an old woman because I’m so sore, but I don’t care. I’m doing it.

And if I can do it, so can you.

While I was writing this, I learned of Steve Jobs’s death. I am so thankful to have shared the planet with him, and for all he has brought to my life.

This post is the first in my four-part series about taking a fitness boot camp class. If you’d like to read more, here’s Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

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