My relationship to fitness is a complex one...
My relationship to exercise and fitness is complex, and deeply rooted into my identity. When I grow athletically, I grow spiritually, too.
When I was very young, I was a ballerina. I tap danced. I was on the swim team. I played games with anyone of any age and gender, because I loved the freedom of being able to move my body in
the ways it was meant to be moved. I even taught my little brother how to ride a bicycle so that we could cruise down our desert streets together: Team Merson, representing!
Then I started growing boobs and soft spots and caring about sweat and undressing in front of strangers, and wearing shorts on days I wanted to wear pants, and feeling the insidious ways my body was no longer my own. That’s when I stopped being so into exercise. I became ashamed, scared, and embarrassed, and therefore resentful and angry towards anyone who tried to exacerbate my physical discomfort.
I was the queen of doctor’s notes. It was always my knee. I mean, it truly hurt (and continued to as I got older), but to this day I’m not really sure what I had. Whatever the cause, it meant I couldn’t run, and therefore didn’t have to change out of my “street clothes” into the white t-shirt and red shorts that were our athletic uniform.
Fast forward through fifteen years of my life. My boyfriend at the time could not stand that I was not riding a bicycle. So, he took me to a bike shop and helped me select a shiny new black and silver Specialized. With his support and encouragement, I re-learned how to ride, and raced that thing through the streets of San Francisco on a daily basis for the next two years. I rode nearly 15 miles a day to and from my home in Hayes Valley, my job in the Presidio, and my school in the Mission. The adrenaline and release were unlike anything I’d ever felt before. It kept me going.
Since then, I’ve exercised in some capacity more days of the week than not. A year and a half ago, I started lifting barbells, swinging kettlebells, and doing burpees ‘til (almost) barfing with a group of awesome and kickass women and men at Phoenix Gym. My knee pain disappeared as the rest of my body grew strong, and my mind and heart grew strong alongside my body.
Last year, I participated in my first Half Marathon at the Oakland Running Festival with Team Ella Baker Center, which has become one of my most brag-worthy achievements.
Seven weeks from now, with eighteen months of weightlifting and half a million “mountain climbers” under my belt, I’m going to run the 5K with Team Ella Baker Center in under 20 minutes. Each week for the next seven weeks, I’ll share a story about my training process, as well as stories from my friends and fitness conspirators on their journeys to health, strength, peace, and well-being in 2012. Stay with me! And... join me on Team Ella Baker Center- Register now- walkers and runners of every experience level are welcome!