Gym Class Wallflower To Fitness Enthusiast

"I Was A Gym Class Wallflower" is an article contributed by Heather Dugan, my good friend, voice-over talent, fitness enthusiast and professional traveler:

It’s true. Pressed against the cafeteria wall, hoping to camouflage my lack of athletic experience and skill as blasé disinterest–that was me. This surprises all those who missed my mandatory sixth grade gymnastics routine–heavy on dramatic spins and arm flourishes that did little to hide the fact that my abilities were limited to somersaults, ballet-style cartwheels and half of a back walk-over (as I recall it, half of my three minute routine was spent ineffectively attempting to kick my way back out of a backbend…riveting humiliation when viewed on a TV monitor outside the cafeteria during the high traffic lunch hour!).

I’m a fairly fit 40-something now, but the truth is, I sort of stumbled into personal fitness.

My first foray into team sports came my senior year of high school. Lacrosse. How good was I? Good enough to be my coach’s gift to an opposing team when they were short a couple of players for our game. My team won–that is, the team I arrived with, not the team I guest-played for, but I chose to call it a victory. And it was. I’d shown up and put my feet on the field.

I began running towards the end of college, primarily for the opportunity it provided my friends and I to pass a local fraternity on a regular basis. Running didn’t require great amounts of coordination (right left, right left… I could do that), and once I got past the whole “do I look silly” question, I found I enjoyed it.

The running habit stuck. My folks didn’t really know what to make of it when I returned home for summer break. We’d hiked and biked in the course of our travels, but with a regular exercise routine, I’d now swung far out of “normal” for my family. I kept at it anyways, because I was already noticing some remarkable benefits: less stress, more confidence, focused “thinking time” -and best of all, my “skinny” body now had runner’s legs.

Above the waist, however, I had the same willowy rag doll physique I’d always had. It lacked a certain something, but I just didn’t know what. Yet…

Years later, after prolonged manual labor on a landscaping project followed by an unfortunate stint on crutches, a neighbor commented favorably on my muscular “definition.” I confess that I had no idea what she meant. I looked in the mirror that evening, however, and discovered that I’d somehow grown baby arm muscles. I made an instant connection between my recent increases in strength and energy and decided to keep them.

Worth noting: These new muscles were “born” in my very late 30s making them younger than my three children! In the beginning, it was as simple as incorporating a few push-ups and crunches into my mornings. I advanced to trying pull-ups and chin-ups at playgrounds while playing with my kids. My method was simply to try and do at least as much as I did the last time. Nothing set in stone, but it became another positive habit to build upon. Eventually, I added free weights and began looking at how to further improve-rather than simply maintain, my accidental fitness. My “stumble” into physical fitness had taken me to a good place, and I was hooked.

That’s it! I use a gym now and find that the variety helps me keep my work-outs fresh and interesting. I lack the time for perfection but surge ahead on the theory that something is always better than nothing at all. I view my gym and outdoor running time as 1) my best investments in my future health, and 2) a sure way to keep positive about the present!

So, when a young lady stopped me at the gym last week to ask what I did and if she was too late, I smiled. I told her that she was so far ahead of me already and gave her the basics of my routine along with a couple words of encouragement.

We’re all made so differently, and the same regimens will look completely different on the bodies of two different women. But, we can all do something to maximize what we’ve been given.

And confidentially, it’s much more fun to be out on the gym floor than leaning against a padded wall. Take if from a former wallflower.

Read more from Heather Dugan!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
My Fitness Hut

About Mark

About Mark

Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.

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