I spent most of my life allergic to fitness. I’m a creature of comfort; I don’t usually choose activities that could cause me pain. I hate team sports and I completely lack any sort of hand-eye coordination. I’m as clumsy as it gets. The school I grew up in was extremely small, so everyone had to play every sport in order to have enough people to constitute a team ~ but I far too often found an excuse (or faked an injury) so I could sit on the bench and daydream the match away. In one basketball game, I scored two baskets ~ a career high! ~ for the wrong team. I’m just NOT naturally sporty.
However, as I get older, I find myself not only wanting to finesse my personal style, but also take better responsibility for the well-being of my body. Working out may not be my first choice of morning activities, but I know I’d like to eventually enter old age with a body that’s able and strong. And I recognize that, for all of us, the time to start a lifetime of healthy habits is NOW (cue the most embarrassing photo I’ll probably ever post on this site).As confessed, I’d never had the self-motivation to exercise regularly. I don’t like taking classes, I lead a very busy life, and there is always a good excuse not to go to the gym ~ chief among them being that I detest gyms in general. In my personal nightmares, hell is a crowded weight room.
And so, a little over a year ago, I enlisted my friend Ann Nichols to start training me. The goal was never to lose weight, as I’ve always been naturally slender. But being thin is not the same thing as being fit, and I knew I had a long way to go in that department ~ and that I wasn’t going to get there on my own. I needed someone to motivate me, hold me accountable, and find ways to make working out interesting for me.We started out in my apartment building’s usually-empty gym, which appealed to me because there would be no one around to witness my lack of coordination and strength. But after a few months of training together, Ann figured out what I really needed: to get outside. An hour in the gym with me had become what we liked to call ‘Kelly’s Cuss Fest’. I’d whine and wheeze out expletives as I disinterestedly lugged myself up and down that stupid Stairmaster. It wasn’t pleasant for anybody. One day, she suddenly suggested we switch it up, and dragged me to a nearby park to work out instead. Something clicked.I’m sure the fresh air had a lot to do with it. Even in a congested, polluted urban space, I felt unexpectedly connected to nature, and to the natural needs and abilities of my body. In our local, typical city park (in broad daylight! in public! in spandex!), Ann had me doing push-ups and lunges in the spotty grass, and triceps dips on municipal benches. We graduated to tri-weekly power walks over the bridge (a 3-mile loop from my house), which slowly became run-walks and have more recently evolved into light, steady jogs. I’m gradually building up my endurance, and it feels awesome. Now, we do one-hour sessions three to four days a week, alternating between cardio on the bridge and strength-building in the park. Ann comes up with a slightly different routine every time, so I don’t get bored (or lazy!).A year ago I regarded our workouts with resignation and dread; now I look forward to them with an unexpected glee. I love starting the day strong on my feet, watching the just-waking city fast-forward through my field of vision. It makes me feel more connected as a New Yorker, like this place is really my own home. And it’s not that working out has suddenly become easy for me; it definitely still sucks. But I weirdly enjoy that now, because it sucks less than it used to. And I know that this time next year it will suck even less than it does now, and that I am training my body to be better ready to take on whatever lies ahead in life.Finally, I must admit: collecting cute workout clothes has gone a long way to maintaining my interest and enthusiasm. I bought a new pair of sneakers recently, and was thus inspired to go on my first-ever SOLO run! Not that Ann needs to worry about being out of a job anytime soon, but it is amazing what fashion can do for you.Are you into fitness, or are you as avid an avoidance-expert as I used to be? I’d love to hear what you all do to stay motivated! And, if you live in New York and are interested in training with my friend Ann, she teaches a kick-ass bootcamp class in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park twice a week ~ follow her Facebook page for schedule updates. If she can get me excited to get fit, imagine what she could do for you!
|IN THIS POST| Ann wears: Adidas by Stella McCartney top & pants (courtesy of Zappos Couture), Nike shoes // Kelly wears: Rick Owens beanie, Westward\\Leaning sunnies, Adidas by Stella McCartney top & pants, Nike shoes
|PHOTOS| by Mark Iantosca