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Weakest Link Gains Strength

July 26, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
The other day, my friend Cathy suggested I go zip-lining.

Anyone who knows me well will be laughing right now. It would be clear to some of my long-time friends, that she is a NEW friend!

Sports or anything remotely athletic have never been my forte — although, this zip-liner friend did meet me at yoga class, which may have led to her false impression.

In grade school, I hated Red Rover ... that playground game where you tightly join hands, and someone from the opposite team rushes over and breaks the linked hands.

They always broke through me. I WAS the weakest link.

I hated the part of kickball where the team captain picked sides. It was a painstaking, humiliating process. Never, ever did I hear the words, "I'll take Phyllis." I was pretty much that little kid left at the end, who ambled, with her head down, toward the team that didn't get a choice.

When I was in high school, one of the happiest days of my life was when I got a doctor's excuse to miss gym class for a few weeks. I think gym class was the only thing I hated more than public speaking. (I took the required college public speaking course at West Liberty in a three-week summer session so I'd only throw up for three weeks instead of an entire semester.)

In college, the only grade I got that was lower than a B was the C I got in tennis, the class I took as my physical education requirement. I guess I thought it would be easy.

As a young adult, we had volleyball Sundays once a month at our house, which was located out in the country with a nice plot of land for the court. I may have played one time. ... until I had to serve or until someone actually sent a ball toward me. I'm sure I never got one over the net. Yeah, I'd be the one with my arms over my face and head if the ball even thought about coming toward me.

Pretty much any game I ever played that involved a ball, I'd pray that ball didn't come anywhere near me.

I tried cross-country skiing once, so that I could write a feature story about the experience. I almost passed out from exertion. I should've eaten my oatmeal prior to that outing!

One time at a friend's swimming pool, there was a little basketball net over the pool. I was petrified to shoot that ball, for fear I'd miss. Or look stupid in the process. My friend Lisa, who was with me at the time, felt my fear and trepidation as I prepared to sling that ball.

I've never tried water skiing (too fast), downhill snow skiing (too cold), mountain climbing (too high), parasailing (ditto), surfing (too hard!) nor scuba diving (too deep). Skydiving? Bungee jumping? Are you kidding me!

I just didn't get that "adventure" gene, I guess. I got the "chicken" gene. (Although, I am pretty good at ping pong!)

I have made some progress, however. Several years ago, I joined the gym, just after I turned 40 years old.

I attempted the treadmill first. I knew I could walk — I didn't know how fast, though. I did, however, picture a cartoon version of myself slipping on the treadmill, and face down, going over and under and over and under and over and under ...

Next, I worked out on the machine circuit. That wasn't so bad. (I just accidentally wrote "That was so bad." ... maybe somewhere in my psyche, the memory of that IS bad.)

Then I tried out the elliptical machine. I felt quite uncoordinated at first, but finally got the hang of it.

The gym has become a part of my life. I began to believe — well, a little — that physical activity was not a totally foreign concept. I never thought I'd be that person, that one walking into the gym every day (well, not quite) with a gym bag, head for the locker room, change clothes and head out to the arena of gym equipment, walking track, weights, stationary bikes, rowing machines, etc.

But I am that person. Fourteen years later, I'm still going — strong — on the elliptical. I'm even taking a class — where I have to work out in FRONT of other people (which is sort of like combining public speaking with athletics.) And I do enjoy my weekly yoga session.

A few years ago I went ocean kayaking. That was fun! I even bought the picture the resort photographer took of me actually doing it, just for proof! I didn't think my kids would ever believe it.

I also had a brief snorkeling experience. That was OK, but swimming with the fishes has never been a huge desire of mine.

But I think that I'm over lamenting my poor athletic skills. I suppose I've gotten to the point in my life where I've decided that it's OK if I'm not the adventurous type.

And I've come to learn that I'm not alone. My friend Misty said she could relate to many of the above-mentioned foibles. Some of my examples were met with a resounding, "Me, too!"

I felt immediately better. She didn't get that gene either. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

And about that zip-lining invite? Sorry, but I just really don't see that in my future anytime soon.

 
 

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