"A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise." A. A. Milne
I teach Aqua Aerobics at the YMCA every Friday evening at 6 PM. Tonight there were 17 extraordinary people in my class. Do you have any idea what makes them extraordinary? I do! They are extraordinary because it was Friday night at 6 PM, the end of a very busy week for most and they chose to come to the Y and exercise, for an hour, in an Aqua Aerobics class when most people are doing everything except exercising. It was a choice they made to do something good for themselves and their fitness. The 17 people who were in class tonight were all regulars - not one of them was someone who came because of a New Year's resolution. They came for their own reasons and the amazing thing is they keep coming back, week after week. While I would love to say it is because I am a great teacher (I try really hard) the simple fact is they are there because they choose to be.
When I began exercising I was morbidly obese. Bending over to tie my shoes was a workout and it quickly left me out of breath. The thought of going to a gym to exercise was terrifying so I had to come up with another option. I decided the easiest thing for me to do was to walk. I was not willing to take my huge self outside to walk so we bought a treadmill and put it in the basement. The first time I got on the treadmill I set the pace at 1.2 mph and keep the level flat. I walked 20 min (less than 1/2 mile) and thought I was going to die but I was proud. I got back on the treadmill the next day and the next and the next and before long I was walking faster and longer. I took my walking and my then 8 year old son, Adam, outside with me to walk. We were fortunate to live in a community with miles of marked walking trails so we walked the trails. I remember many afternoons spent walking with Adam while quizzing him on his spelling words or helping him study for a test. What I didn't know was he grabbed the stop watch and would time me each day encouraging me to go faster, making me beat the previous day's time, and I did. I was walking 13 minute miles while talking.
My exercise program progressed as my weight decreased. I can easily walk a 4 mph pace on a treadmill without holding on and with an incline. I have taught group cycle classes. I take step/sculpt classes, Zumba classes, and I teach Aqua Aerobics. Last year I walked 2 half marathons (13.1 miles). I am fit and I am proud! I never would have believed I would love to exercise but I do.
I would tell you anyone can do what I have done. You begin with baby-steps - put on your tennis shoes and walk around the block and when that becomes easy add another block and another; before you know it you will be walking miles.
If you are someone who has been exercising, I challenge you to do something different. Stretch you limits, reach for a new goal. Maybe it is joining a gym, walking or running a 5K, completing a half marathon or maybe even a full marathon. It is amazing what you can achieve when you try.
I have a shirt that I bought in May the day before I participated in and completed the Flying Pig Half marathon (in the rain) that says: "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start to begin with."
What are you going to do?