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 pulled back into 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 time hiding in the back of the crowd or bracing for the impact of 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: a good friend, my boyfriend, another good friend. After I graduated, I started working out alone, headphones pumping nineties hip hop into my ears and eyes vacantly drifting up to watch another silent Friends rerun on the row of hanging TVs at Planet Fitness.
Then I adopted my dog, the light of my young 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. Excuses, excuses. If you haven’t already noticed, I’m very good at reasoning away my behavior to myself.
Now I’m trying to get back into exercise. I’ve got a spin class I like to go to at the YMCA and with it, a membership that gives me access to other classes and a community of people also trying to better themselves. I’ve got a yoga mat that gets used once a week or so to do 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 easy to wake up an hour early to go to the gym– just set your alarm differently and force yourself out of bed when it goes off. When confronted with exercise, I don’t want to feel like an awkward, unathletic seventh grader anymore. I’m trying to hold myself accountable. I hope you hold yourself (and me) accountable too.