5 Reasons Your Mom Is My Fitness Hero
I have a fitness hero, but it’s not who you might think it is. It’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jillian Michaels, or even Tim Ferris. No, it’s not anyone who’s ever been on TV or won a sport championship.
In fact, my fitness hero isn’t even someone who coached me in high school or even who played sports growing up. They’re not a Para Olympian, or someone who lost 300 lbs.
I think all of those people are really noble, wonderful, and inspiring. But the person who is my fitness hero is someone that you’ve never heard about unless you read my blog. My fitness hero is your mom.
But not just your mom, but my mom too and many other people like my girlfriend Jane, my friend Katie and many other people I call the Un-athlete.
Let’s just take my girlfriend as an example of the un-athlete. She didn’t do sports growing up. She doesn’t run a sub-20 min 5k. And she might not ever place in her age group. She exercises and competes because she enjoys it and it helps her be a better person.
Even though she may never host weight loss reality TV show. It’s her and other un-athletes like her that give me the greatest inspiration, because their struggle is what transformation through movement is all about.
Five Ways Un-Athletes Inspire Me
I love watching the Olympics and being in aw of what humans are capable of doing. And I think people who overcome adversity are super inspiring. But there is one thing those people often have that un-athletes never get. And that is glory.
Most people will never know that your mom or my mom ran a marathon. But that doesn’t matter to un-athletes, because they knows they ran it.
The un-athlete will never get their picture on the cover of the runners’ world or men’s health. But they are better for it, because their drive to move comes from a very authentic place.
It’s the absence of glory that makes un-athletes so admirable. Despite all the hype from media about pro sports being about the game, for the un-athlete there is never any doubt.
They are the heart of every game and every race. They embody our beautifully ordinary desire to rise above our own limitations. Whether they are greeted by flash bulbs or not.
In the world of fitness, we tend to praise those who overcome great challenges. Shows like the biggest loser and extreme makeover dramatize the struggle of people to change their lives.
I think those struggles are inspiring, but those shows leave something out. They leave out the mundane and simple challenges most of us face in our quest to stay healthy.
But the un-athlete embodies those challenges in everything they do.
I watched my girlfriend head out weekend after weekend on long runs that she sometimes didn’t want to do. I watched her prioritize her training over other commitments. I watched her and others like her keep going at mile 20 of the marathon running on sheer intention alone.
To me that’s inspiring. I love running and I got a little tired of long runs, but I never wanted to stop. I can’t even imagine having to train like that when I was just effing sick of it.
But it’s the small challenges and overcoming them, that the un-athletes my hero. The mom finds time to run and take care of her kids. The grandmother goes to yoga to maintain her flexibility so she can keep gardening. These are the people that help me remember what exercise is all about.
The world of fitness is vast and complicated. It seems like every trainer and every gym has there own philosophy and approach. There’s compressive clothing, dietary supplements, and pacing strategies. Of course, all these things have their place.
But what I love about the un-athletes is the simplicity with which they approach exercise. It’s not about volume training, or fartleks, or WOD’s. It’s about getting out and moving their bodies.
They don’t need complex training plans. They just need enough structure and knowledge to make sure they don’t hurt themselves. My mom’s exercise plan is to walk for 30 mins a day with my dad. Sure, she’s not one of those ripped grannies, but she stays active and enjoys it.
That kind of simplicity demands a level of awareness that many fitness professionals have lost. Charts and plans have their place, but an un-athletes relies heavily on their ability to notice and adjust. And by watching them, I am reminded that no matter what the current fitness trend is, the best approach is usually the simplest one.
It’s easy to watch the cross fit games think that’s what fitness is all about pushing yourself to the limit. And yes, there is something to be said for pushing. But the un-athlete has something great then pure drive. They have perseverance.
Perseverance is defined as steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. And the un-athlete has perseverance out the wazoo.
All those folks you see on the cross-fit games may have to work hard to be the best at the games, but they are usually top dog at their local gyms, boxes, and towns.
True perseverance comes from working hard even when you’re not the best, even in your group of friends.
I’ve watched my girlfriend play ultimate Frisbee and work really hard to catch and throw the disc with ease. What inspires me is that she keeps trying even though many of the people we play with are much better.
Whenever I watch her, I wonder if I would keep playing if I struggled that much. If I weren’t naturally athletic would I love movement as much as I do?
But the un-athlete keeps playing even if they are in the bottom half. They keep running even if the crowds are waning when they finish. They persevere to achieve a victory that is subtle and quiet.
5. For the Joy
I saw this commercial recently where a pro basketball player asks, “If you took away the money, the fame, the spotlight, the lifestyle, and all the things that come with it. If you took away all the flash, what would you have left?”
And he replies, “Everything.” But I wonder if that’s true.
I have no doubt that people who are pro athletes must love sports. And I’m sure that Jillian Michaels loves her job, but it’s hard to know what would happen if you took it all away.
But with un-athletes, it’s already stripped away. And all that is left is the pure simple joy of movement.
The same joy you see when kids run and play. The same joy on a parents face when their child takes their first steps. The same simple and abiding ordinary joy that is so easy to take for granted.
That’s the joy I see in my mom, my girlfriend, and many of my clients. It’s the joy I feel when I let go of ambition and strategy.
The joy that mindful fitness works to create.
That’s why the un-athlete is my hero. Because they embody the presence of anyone who moves to experience their lives more deeply. Because they express a joy, I can only hope to feel and share for the rest of my life.
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