I joined the cross country team because I hoped it would increase my lung capacity for singing, but I continued it through high school because I fell in love with running. I loved the practices and my teammates, although I did not care about races, because I wasn't fast or competitive. I liked to say that I was faster than the average person, but slower than the average athlete; thus, I did not consider myself an athlete.
As I told you in Just A Little Farther, I had a bit of a falling-out with running, so now I do mainly aikido, Pilates, and some yoga. I am still absolutely hopeless with a ball, but I have discovered that perhaps I am not as un-athletic as I had always believed.
Last night I went to the Fußball field to practice some beginner Ido Portal movements for the first time. He is an Israeli man who mixes Capoeira with primal movements and pretty much every other torture invented, calling it "self-dominance."
There are alot of similarities between the Strala yoga and the Ido Portal method. As I practiced elements of both last night before finishing up with sprints, I realized for the first time that I am athletic--many people can't do what I can do with my body. I am now an athlete.
I don't actually like the term "athlete" because it limits people to the major sports in high school: football, basketball, track, volleyball, etc. Consequently, people who are not skilled in those areas think "I'm not athletic, I don't like exercising." Nobody likes doing things they are bad at, and they think that their bodies are just awful at physical activities in general. What they need to do is experiment with different forms of exercise--dance, martial arts, rock climbing, pole fitness--and find something they enjoy. There is such joy in finishing a physical activity and thinking "Wow, I just did that. I didn't even know I could." Physical activity becomes more than just "exercise", it becomes a skill to master. Whether it is martial arts, yoga, or rowing, you are not just becoming proficient in that craft, you are learning to control your body. And just like when you master music you become a musician, when you master your body you become an athlete.
Now, not all musicians are good musicians, and not all athletes are good athletes; however, they keep doing it because they enjoy it. It is about self-fulfillment, not competition. It's about using your body as a tool to master not only your craft, but also your mind and emotions.
So, what would happen if we redefined the word "athlete" to include people who do not compete in races or games? How many of us would consider ourselves athletic? There is an athlete in all of us, we just need to give them a chance to do what they love. So, for those of you who haven't found a physical activity you like, it's just because you haven't looked hard enough. I promise you, something will bring joy and make you want to do it again. Once you find that activity and become comfortable with it, your inner athlete will also want to begin trying new things.
If you abandon the titles "un-athletic", "uncoordinated", and "weak", you will find that you are more than you had limited yourself to before. You're body is an amazing tool to be cherished and loved, and you will only learn how to appreciate it if you allow it to surprise you with its strength.
Be strong, my athletes.