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On being an athlete (not!)

Someone approached me in the gym the other day and asked if I was an athlete.  I laughed out loud.  He couldn’t have been further from the truth.

At school, I used to bunk off sports lessons at every opportunity.  I hated sport, because I was rubbish at it.  I was completely uncoordinated and had no spatial awareness whatsoever.  So I was always the last to be picked for teams, and I was always the player who let the team down by coming last in the race or not catching the ball.  That’s pretty hard for an adolescent to deal with.

So I grew up avoiding exercise, particularly where competition or teams were involved, and became an extremely unfit young adult.  The lack of physical activity combined with too much alcohol and a pretty poor diet took its toll on my body and I looked as unhealthy as I was.

Then at the age of 21 I found myself sharing a house with someone who loved exercise – but not sport – she exercised for fitness, and for the sake of her own wellbeing.  She ran and swam regularly, just for herself.  I realised that exercise did not have to involve sport or, more importantly, competition.  I honestly hadn’t realised that before.

Suddenly I found the idea of exercise far more appealing.  I started swimming regularly, and over the years I’ve done all sorts of activity, purely for myself and my own sense of wellbeing and achievement.    And I’ve got fitter, stronger and healthier.

So there I was in the gym the other day at the age of 46 and someone asks if I am a competitive athlete because I look so fit!!  You now know why I laughed out loud.

The reason I am telling you all this?  Because if I can get fit and healthy with my childhood phobia of exercise and complete lack of coordination, anyone can.  And if I can go from having zero physical confidence to feeling comfortable in my own skin, anyone can.  And I promise you that feeling fit and strong spills out into all areas of your life – it will change everything about you, for the better.  It’s not always easy to get fit, but it is worth it.

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