By Kris Denning
So you think you aren’t the athletic type? What moment in your life did you decide this? Did you try out a sport or activity that you didn’t immediately excel at and right then decide that athletics wasn’t your thing? Were you slower than everyone else in gym class and figured why bother, I’m just not an athlete? What is an athlete anyway? Technically, an athlete is defined as a person who is trained or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength. I would argue that for almost every living creature, life in general requires physical skill and strength. Right?
We are all born athletes. We all have muscles, bones, and body systems that enable movement. As babies we learned to stand unsupported, and, if we had the capability, we walked. We hopped, skipped, learned to ride bikes, climbed hills, and ran in fun and fear. The far majority of us were born with natural body mobility. Unfortunately at some point, those who decide, based on societal standards or worse, are actually told that they aren’t the athletic type, just stop moving their bodies any more than absolutely necessary. Almost always this leads to years of progressively slowing down, gaining weight, and becoming more susceptible to illness. This physical system decline often leads to depression and feelings of hopelessness. And so begins the rut of life so many people are in at this very moment.
If we could prevent young people from deciding that they aren’t athletic, just because they don’t excel in soccer, baseball, basketball, etc., maybe we could help reverse the obesity and depression trend in kids! We can. And we must. Encouraging movement of any kind is key. The activities we and our children engage in should not be judged by ourselves or anyone else. It doesn’t have to be about how you perform an activity, just be active! It doesn’t matter how much weight you bench press or how fast you run, bike, or swim. It’s all about how you feel when you are moving your body. Even more so, how you feel after the activity. Invigorated and appropriately exhausted at the same time. The mind is clear and flooded with endorphins. Stress levels are greatly reduced, leading to better brain power and greater focus. Don’t we want this for ourselves and our children?
You can realize that you are an athlete at any age. I have had many people come into my classes, well into their 60s and above, and tell me immediately that they aren’t athletic and can’t do much. And I have seen them transform over the course of weeks and months into something they never realized they were, building muscles they never knew they had, and discovering a joy and pride for themselves that they’d never experienced. I’m in awe of them. They pulled themselves out of the rut. It takes a great deal of strength to do this, but you can and you must! This is your life. That is your body. You only get one. You ARE an athlete.