It’s sixth period gym class. I’m in seventh grade, wearing awkward red gym shorts that fall to my knees and an oversized Nike t-shirt that looked a lot cooler on the rack when I begged my stepmom to buy it for me. My long hair is back in a frizzy ponytail pulled way too tight on my skull and I’m dreading the inevitable words that always begin my least favorite day of the week: “We’re playing dodgeball today.”
As a thirteen-year-old girl with zero athletic ability, dodgeball days were my living nightmare. The boys in my class thrived on those days, too competitive for their own good, and I spent the majority of the period hiding in the back of the crowd or bracing for the impact of the rubber ball on my bare arm (and sometimes face).
I have never been any good at sports. When I was a kid, I took ballet lessons– that (combined with biking around town with the neighborhood kids like a deleted scene from some unnamed eighties movie) was the extent of my activity for the week. It improved my balance and flexibility, but I wasn’t serious enough about it to become strong and dedicated.
I finally began working out on a semi-regular schedule in college. I cycled through different gym buddies who kept me accountable: a good friend, my boyfriend, another good friend. After I graduated, I started working out alone after work, headphones pumping nineties hip hop into my ears and eyes vacantly drifting up towards the silent Friends rerun on the row of hanging TVs.
Then I adopted my dog, the light of my life. My workouts dwindled to long, leisurely walks with my pup. I felt guilty going to the gym when I could instead be taking him to the dog park, enjoying the sunshine on a bench.
Now I’m trying to get back into exercise. I’ve got a membership to a gym that offers great fitness classes, including my beloved spin. I’ve got a yoga mat for basic Yoga moves and basic strength training (which makes me look like a sweaty, flailing fish out of water). I’ve got cool workout clothes that give me confidence, a FitBit that holds me accountable, sleek new Nikes to replace my old worn out gym shoes and the best workout playlist a girl could ask for. I’ve got a dog that likes to be walked multiple times a day. I’ve got every tool I need to be successful. Now all I need is the determination to go to the gym more and a confidence to push through my awkward form as I get reacquainted with movement.
It’s so, so easy to not exercise. It’s also technically so, so easy to wake up an hour early to go to the gym– just set your alarm and force yourself out of bed when it goes off. When confronted with exercise, I don’t want to feel like an awkward, un-athletic seventh grader anymore. I’m trying to hold myself accountable. I hope you hold yourself (and me) accountable too.