The new year is nearly upon us! You know what that means — a bunch of stuff coming at you about “detoxing” from your “holiday indulgences”, some crap about looking your hottest in your NYE dress, and a lot of newsletters and Facebook posts from gyms with the title “New Year, New You.” That’s right, it’s fitness resolution time (and also time to get a new slogan, amiright?).
A few months ago, I shared my story with you all on here, and one of the main points I had was that I am not a person who is naturally athletic or the stereotype of someone who is super into fitness. I don’t fit the mold. I am clumsy. I love unhealthy foods. (I also love healthy foods. I mean, I just love food.) My favorite activity is reading whilst wearing a robe. In high school, I tried valiantly to play sports but was so naturally uncoordinated that it became embarrassing, and the summer before senior year I quit volleyball so that I could spend two months at Harvard Summer School taking Calculus II instead (because college credits). Society will pigeon-hole us, if we’re willing to let it, and I let it. This is who I am, I thought, and I turned my attention toward my strengths. As if we have to be just one thing.
We don’t, of course, but it’s not an idea that’s easy to let go of. Even after I discovered that I love working out, I felt like it was something I could do quietly, but not something I could be vocal about, and certainly not a field I could work in. Surely I would have to look a certain way, have a certain body fat percentage to say I worked in fitness. And even after I got comfortable saying I worked in fitness, I always had to lead with the fact that I specialized in social media, in design and marketing, in writing — and I just happened to do it for a fitness studio. I wanted to train to teach, but I felt doubt all around me; there were people who didn’t think I looked the part or was the part; people who reinforced my idea that I should stay where I belonged — in front of my computer and behind the camera.
Thankfully, there were other people too — among them, Lina, who trained me, supported me, and helped me actually believe that I could do it. I could work in fitness. I could teach fitness. And I could do fitness — we all can. Fitness isn’t something that’s just for people with six packs and bulging biceps, or for people who can run a 6-minute mile or bench twice their bodyweight. Fitness is for bodies — ALL bodies.
My body will never be the body of a fitness model. My muscles won’t be rippling on some website. I will never be the fastest person or the strongest person or the person who can perform the most impressive physical feats. I love my Krav Maga training, but I’ll probably never be an amazing fighter. I love my yoga training, but I may never be aweing people with my Instagram account of impossible-looking poses. I have tight hamstrings and shoulders, and fitness is hard for me. I used to be ashamed to admit that, but not anymore. Because in middle school I always ran/walked the slowest mile in gym class, and now I can run a mile in 8:30. Is that fast? Maybe not, but it’s fast for me. And I recently was capable of doing NO real push-ups, and now I can do 25 in a row. Is that a lot of push-ups? It is for me. And because I used to not feel healthy, or strong, but now I do. Which is what really matters for me.
If you are thinking about the impending arrival of 2015, feeling like you need to make a change but also feeling apprehensive and like the world of fitness isn’t one where you necessarily belong, here’s my advice: Stop thinking that. Fitness is for your body. You have the right to take care of it and feel good in it and be proud of it. You do not have to look a certain way or be capable of any certain things to “get into” fitness. It’s not a space reserved for certain people — it’s yours. If you don’t know what fitness to do, do some research! Try out some classes, do a trial session with a personal trainer, ask a friend to go on a gym date. Reach out to me or Lina on here — we would love to chat! Find something that you enjoy doing in a place where you feel safe. Those are the most important things, because that’s what will keep you going back. And when you get there, make it all about you. Whenever we move into the hard stuff in class, one of my favorite yoga teachers always says, “Don’t look at the other people in the room. They don’t have your body.” Remember that. You’re the only one who has your body, and fitness is for you. Go do it.