I was never “fitness minded” as a child. I played sports at a very uncommitted level and would routinely pretend to throw my shoulder out when throwing the ball from the outfield when I needed a break due to boredom. (And I craved attention as well) I played street hockey for a few seasons but I was easily pushed around by the other players due to my smaller size and weaker attributes.
After I started playing in the middle school band and picked up guitar most of my sub-par athleticism took a permanent back seat. I quickly fell into that “band geek” social circle and felt safe in it. I excelled as a musician and I found comfort in accepting that label of being a dork. Mostly due to the fact that it required no vulnerability and no expectations other than the to be … the band geek.
I entered my High School career as a freshman band geek as well. I had transferred schools from a neighboring town just weeks before I went off to band camp with all of these new people I didn’t know. (Yes band camp is a real thing…. all the rumors and stereotypes are exactly true. All of them. So just go and hush that little voice inside your head, we’ve heard all the jokes already. ) I fell into place rather quickly due to the fact that we were all… band geeks. Made a handful of friends but when school officially started things took a different turn.
As with all high school freshman at Gallatin High School, I had to take a semester of “Wellness”. Wellness is basically a high school version of P.E. or gym class. Only in this setting the teachers actually give you a physical assessment at the beginning of the semester. Which is the exact moment in which I was graciously awarded the label I carried for years on end even after high school.
There were a few different aspects of this physical assessment. Perform as many push-ups as you can in one minute. Same for sit-ups. A couple laps around the gym. And they also recorded your height and weight. Sounds fairly harmless right? Maybe some of you had a similar experience on either end of the scale. Here’s how mine played out.
I maxed out the push-ups. And the sit-ups. I think they had some sort of grading system in that if you made it to a certain number then you received the highest score. But I don’t really remember. Because the weight and height was what made everything else so cloudy.
I remember standing in line. Not having a clue who anybody was. Having to change into those shorts that all the guys thought were too short and the girls thought were too long. Tucking our shirts in. (I utterly despised this specific act) And waiting to get to the scale. The instructor took my height and then my weight. She then told me to go back into the gym.
As I walked back into the gym I spotted 5 or 6 guys huddled around together and they were fixated on me as I walked passed. These guys struck me as the typical jock popular kids. And I still remember their names. (No hard feelings boys… this isn’t about you by any means) But these guys were all laughing hysterically. I’m pretending that there is someone else that the laughter is directed towards. So I refuse eye contact and keep walking.
When one of the guys yells out “How much do you weigh?!?” I look back perplexed. He says again looking directly at me from 10 feet away so he’s half yelling over the dull roar of the other students. “How much… do you weigh?”.
The roar settled down and I answered “113.” Everyone immediately erupted in laughter. What seemed like everyone anyway.
I was small. Lanky was an understatement. Visible bone structure. I realized I was probably the smallest human in the room.
My entire life I never felt… like the skinny kid. I just felt like a kid. That was it. And then a band kid. But I had a sense unique pride in my musical tendencies. I liked metal and classical. I was “different”. Edgy if you will. But that was cool with me. Real cool. (How original)
When these guys turned me into the laughingstock of the class this overwhelming feeling came over me. A feeling of not being “enough”. Not enough to even take into consideration.
I didn’t count.
It was equally confusing as it was embarrassing. Because it usually wasn’t an issue for me to be able to socialize with all the different demographics of the student body. But a line had been drawn that day. And it set the tone for the remaining 4 years. And a lot of my adult life after that.
This experience is my main motivator for wanting to help people change the things they want to change. When our physical state is ,or becomes, something less than desirable it can affect how we live our lives. It affects how people see us unfortunately. This is extremely troublesome for someone who struggles with self confidence or insecurity issues. Some people might call this outlook “soft” or “weak”. Or that I should have “manned up” when I went through this. But you can’t force confidence. During the school atmosphere a lot of kids are trying to figure things out. Who they want to be. What they want to do. And when you have information coming at you at full speed from all different kinds of sources you can lose your mind in the chaos. And retreat back into nothing. I think a lot of adults are still going through this stage. Still haven’t quite figured it out. (I’m definitely not saying I have) And if by changing your physical condition can change your mindset about yourself and the things around you. You can’t be swayed by this input from negative sources.
I want to help people figure it out. Whatever “it” is. The connection between your mind and your body is real. It might sound like a bunch of weirdo guru ethereal garbage. But I’ve seen it grow in many people over the past few years. Something happens to a person when they choose to ignore what their body is telling them and they continue to push through a workout. When they see their partner giving their all just like them. It encourages one to step back and reevaluate themselves and know they can handle whatever situation they are in. I truly believe you can figure out a lot of things out during that time of vulnerability. And I want to coach people through that time when they think they have no one else. Fitness is translatable and transferable to all other life experiences. So if we work on that base we can maximize our potential for everything else.