Initially, health and weight loss was the only goal, it was my reason for finding fitness. The longer I do it, the more it becomes habit, the more I need another objective. Otherwise, working out becomes solely for the purpose of losing weight or manipulating body size and shape. That's not the most healthy place for anyone to be in, let alone me. I feel like if I have a sport, a game, a physical activity that I really enjoy, then working out at the gym becomes a way to support and enhance that thing. It helps me to focus, and it helps Mat to plan a training program for me.
Except, I'm the girl who never liked sports. I skipped out on as much of gym as I could, and the non-traditional activities were not often introduced in grade school.
So, how do you find your game? You act like a kid and try anything and everything. And the best places to start are with your friends. When people are passionate about their activity, they tend to get pretty good at it, and they tend to want to get others involved. They love when you show interest, and they want to share that passion. What I have found in the last few years is that, as I've become active, people who are passionate about their sport invite me to try it. All the firsts I've written about? I haven't sought them all out. They've come to me, and I've said yes to trying. Each time I try something, I reflect and evaluate what I liked about it, what I didn't, what hurt, the kind of equipment I'd need, and whether it's something I could see myself doing on a regular or long-term basis.
Plus, I get to have a lot of fun in the process. Passionate people are the best way to learn about, or get introduced to, something you're not sure about.
I had such an opportunity this weekend. (I know; it was right on the heels of a vacation packed with firsts. It's becoming a great month!). Since the spring, Melissa and I have been trying to find a day that worked where she could teach me archery. After making and breaking two dates, we settled on a third. When I heard that she had dislocated her shoulder, I thought "that's it, archery wasn't meant to be." But the hallmark of an experienced instructor is that she can talk you step by step through the learning process, emphasizing proper form and technique, even without having to demonstrate it herself. She brought in some ringers for backup, and that's how Sunday became a day of friends teaching friends to shoot stuff.
Archery is not completely foreign to me, at least not as much as some activities are (or will be). I've seen it done at camp, had to help out with wee campers (as in, keeping the ones on the sidelines occupied and safe while other staff instructed those at the shooting line). I just hadn't actually done it myself. After reading the Hunger Games trilogy, I totally wanted to be Katniss and get my hands on a bow and arrow. After this weekend, I can safely say that if I had to survive based on my shooting skills, I would make a terrible Tribute who'd die in the first few chapters. But, as a skill to try again, as something to work on and hone, this is something I could see doing.
What was particularly interesting to watch was some of the other first-timers going through what I habitually go through. I go in to any of these new activities with a will to try, but very little ego; I assume I'm going to be bad until I surprise myself. For people who are used to being good at most sports, who've been active their whole lives or who are physically fit, there's often an assumption that they'll be really good at it right away. Seeing the same frustration that I often feel, and observing the same kind of growth and progression to "hey, I am getting good at this!" was rather fascinating. That's when I wasn't busy bruising myself by badly aiming one too many times at Bambi.
I've tried: racquetball, climbing (indoors and out), Ultimate Frisbee, hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, and archery. On the bucket list to try are: water polo, kickboxing or a martial art, rowing, kayaking, volleyball, biking. Fencing would be cool, because ... swords. Or, y'know, something else I haven't even thought of yet.
What I know is that motion matters, so start-stop activities (raquet sports, most field sports) wreak havic on my knees. What I know is that surface and equipment matter: snow and ice activities or things with wheels on my feet are out. No roller derby for me. What I know is that I like a certain level of agression. Finesse? I could do with a bit of zen calm, but what fuels my fire is having to rely on strength or power (or just throwing my weight around). What I know is that I need a challenge that is mental, with a bit of strategy mixed in with that brute strength. What I know is that I am comfortable in and around water, it's the least impact on my knees, and usually involves nature and being outdoors.
I think I'll get a membership to the indoor climbing gym in town, as a start. Look into whether there are recreational water polo teams in the vicinity. Keep rowing on the top of the list for next spring or summer, at the start of the season. And, in the meantime, whenever the opportunity comes up to try something I've never done before, the answer will continue to be "yes!"
Fitness, after all, should be fun.