I hate baseball. I am sure I have just alienated a good portion of my readers but let me quickly redeem myself. It isn’t the game itself that I hate. It is the sitting still. I have never been very good at sitting still. I have never possessed much in the way of patience. So, baseball is hard for me to watch.
But as much as I hate watching the game, I love the feel of the ball. I love tossing the ball around with my kids. Just the very act of slipping my hand into a mitt can send me back to summer nights after my younger siblings went to bed, standing in the front yard tossing the ball around with my dad.
And even better than tossing the ball around is the power that surges though my arms and back as I hit the ball. I had forgotten that feeling until my son decided to play little league several years ago and we started going to the batting range on a regular basis. What began as a way to help him improve his swing, turned into a stress reliever and “an aha moment” for me.
It was while I stood in that batting cage whacking those balls that I suddenly realized that fitness didn’t have to be a one way street. Suddenly, I realized I could still run, bike and swim like my friends. I could still train for triathlons and marathons and stay heart healthy but that didn’t mean I that was all I could do.
Suddenly a whole new world of fitness opened up to me. Since those early days at the batting cages out on Mountain Road, I have expanded my fitness to include activities I enjoyed as a child and activities I had always wanted to try but hadn’t had the opportunity.
These days I am as likely to be found shooting hoops in my own back yard while the kids are at school as I am running five miles around Downs Park. And while I love the park, I can also be found hiking up rocky wooded paths wherever they may be.
It took one small memory of fitness being fun to trigger the idea that I had been missing something to change my attitude. I still train for my races like my running friends. I still go to the gym and lift weights. But even with these activities I have found a new element of fun.
As a fitness writer I am asked for advice all the time. I am sure what they are looking for is specifics. What should they eat, how fast should they train, or how many days a week should they train for each of their disciplines? But I never offer that advice because the best bit of advice I can ever offer an adult or a child athlete is to have fun. If you want to stay fit, if you want to stick to a healthy lifestyle, the key is in finding something you enjoy.
Today marks my first day as a fitness columnist with Pasadena Patch. Please come back each Friday and see what I am up to. Find out how I use fun to get through workouts and how the athletes I interview and talk about in this column are able to do the same.