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Friday, March 18, 2011

Gettin' real

From my eliptical machine at the gym this morning, I watched an older gentleman wheel his oxygen tank into the cardio room. I wondered if maybe he had gotten lost, and was looking for the "silver sneekers" or "seniors stretching" class. So, expecting to see him stop in the middle of the room and look bewildered, I followed him with my eyes, ready to get off my machine to help him in his confusion. But, I watched as he climbed onto a treadmill and began his workout. It was a slow walk at first, and then he picked up the pace. Now, this was something I had never seen before. What amazing ambition! Here he was, oxygen tubes attached to his face, lugging around a scuba-sized tank that pushed air into his nostrils, but he climbed up there and worked out just like the fit, lean soccer mom to his right.

It's a wonderfully moving sight to behold- people who refuse to be limited by their physical "limitations". I have taken yoga classes with extremely overweight people who could barely see their toes, much less touch them. I have run beside people with Cerebral Palsy and Parkinson's disease. (ahem, by "beside", I mean they ran right past me.) It may be the popular opinion that these physically "challenged" people have no business in the gym, in yoga class, or running a road race. This kind of thing should be left to the "real" athletes, right?

In my opinion, these ARE the real athletes. Despite all the reasons why not, they think to themselves, "yeah, why the heck not?" And, then they go for it. It takes little courage to think of yourself as an athlete when you look in the mirror and see a muscular, lean mean athletic machine. It takes much more to look in the mirror and see reminders of your weaknesses staring back at you and still know you ARE strong.

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