The Youthful Daze of Exercise

Editor's Note: This article was originally written by community member breejoy2.

Last night I was at the gym doing a little cardio workout for the first time in a while. I have been slacking off quite a bit lately, a period which was capped off by my bachelorette weekend with the girls in Atlantic Beach. By the time I got home I was feeling heavy (with Bojangles biscuits and sweet tea, yummm) and ready to hit the gym hard. With less than a month until the wedding, I know that in order to feel my best, I have to at least give it all for the next few weeks.

So there I was finishing up my workout and stretching in the training room, when I started to really pay attention to the kids Parisi class going on beside me. The Parisi Speed School is a relatively new addition to my gym and the kids seem to love it. Different age groups work to accomplish personal and group goals, and sometimes compete with one another. The idea behind Parisi is to help the kids become faster, stronger and more agile, as well as to build their self confidence. Their coaches encourage them through different rounds of relays, fitness tests, and strength building exercises.

As I watched the little girls and boys engaging with their coach, I started to feel pretty in awe of their drive. They were actually doing some of the things I do with Sandy (my sometimes trainer), and they seemed to love every minute of it. Particularly when Coach Mike would give them praise, big smiles would break out across their faces. I saw one boy doing reverse pushups (keeping his body parallel with the floor while pulling up on a weight bar above his chest). I gasped, remembering how much I hate doing those things. And then I heard the kid say, "You want me to do one more, coach?" Holy cow, now that's what I call determination.

Watching the Parisi kids made me wonder what happened to my own drive and determination. Those kids don't have a wedding dress to fit into, and I'm guessing they don't watch their carbs too much. They are just kids having fun, learning, and getting into shape at the same time. They actually enjoy their workouts and even when pushed to their limits, still want more. Their relationship with their coach can be compared to my relationship with Sandy. I do what she asks of me. She guides and teaches me. She pushes me to do things I never thought my body was capable of. And yet, when I'm finished, all I want to do is collapse and curse her name. Although I appreciate her and what she does for me, I honestly can't say that I enjoy it. But those little guys and gals seemed to be sad when their class was over. Sweating and red-faced, they ask their moms and dads, "Do we really have to go now?"

When I was in elementary and middle school, I had no choice but to play team sports. Starting in third grade and going through eighth, I was on every possible team including soccer, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, and lacrosse. It was mandatory. I did very much enjoy soccer and lacrosse, but that's about it. When it came to the rest, I was generally pissed about going to practices and playing the other schools. By the time I got to high school, where team sports were a choice, I opted out of every single one. Thinking back, I wonder if being forced into the team sports soured me to physical activity in general. I didn't start going to the gym until college. It always felt like something I just had to do. No fun, just work.

I'm hoping to take a cue from those kids and try to get back to the roots of things. I think I started out on the wrong foot with exercise and have subconsciously let the past dictate my feelings surrounding it. But working out can be fun. Maybe not all of the time, but at least sometimes. Seeing those kids smile at the end of their class kind of moved me. Time to get out the bike, go for a swim, or maybe even get into that yoga class I've been dying to try. Maybe I'll even look into joining a local soccer league. Anything is possible when you're young at heart.