Reason Number One: If you’re reading this post, your inner athlete is raring to go.
Your inner voice may be saying, “I really want to, but that doesn’t mean I can. It’s just not that easy.” Like you, I’ve heard that every time I dared venturing into a new athletic endeavor, like when I decided to learn to swim at 28; signed up for a cross-country bike trip at 41; took up snowboarding at 45; mountain biking at 49; and skateboarding at 50. The idea of being a newbie at a new sport, can be intimidating enough in itself to keep you away from pursuing a dream.
Seven years ago I wanted to improve my freestyle stroke. I loved to swim and noticed my stroke wasn’t efficient and I used up a lot of energy during my swims. I met Maria Cimonetti, swim coach and a former world champion triathlete, when she held a sprint triathlon program for moms. She invited me to her triathlon swim clinic when she heard I wanted to improve my stroke. She knew I was fairly new to swimming and that I had no interest in entering triathlon, so I was apprehensive about joining a group of sharks to my minnow. In short, I showed-up and in tears trying to keep up with the lean, fast triathletes in training . We have all been in the situation, whether biking, running, skiing, or any sport where as beginners, we are stunted by the ability around us. These swimmers speed and commitment was overwhelming. I felt out of shape from having a baby and out of my league. I thought I would never go back again. But, surprisingly, I did.
What changed it? I remember sulking and thinking it was impossible to catch-up with decades of experience, so why even try. Then, it came to me: That’s right, I will never ever catch-up and I will never have a chance to train with a world-class athlete. I was there to work on improving MY stroke. Period. At that moment, I was ready. I wanted to do whatever I could to learn even if I was slow in comparison to the others or felt self-conscious that I was in the way of the fast swimmers in my lane. I was there to train just like they were.
I’m not saying it was easy after that. Physically, there were times I was so out of breath, I thought my eye balls would pop out from the pressure. My thighs, so tapped out, they’d shake. I’d swear I was not going back, but I’d tell myself, just one more. That was ten years ago and during that time, I have signed up for Maria’s swim clinic every winter. I’m still not racing material, but I am a better, stronger, confident swimmer.
If you’re still on the fence, I’ll give you 7 more great reasons why Now is the time to release your inner athlete.
Reason 2: It’s Springtime!
The days are longer and the weather warmer. What better time to start something new? If you want to learn to improve your freestyle stroke, there are open water swim clinics galore. It’s much more inspiring to practice on a warm afternoon in an outdoor pool or lake, rather than an indoor pool. In the summer time, even yoga makes it out in the parks and beaches and even in the water. There are plenty of races and events to start training for.
Reason 3: Right Now, You Have A Deeper, Better Understanding Of What Makes You Tick
You know if you’re comfortable in group classes or personal instruction. Take it slow or jump in. This means identifying what discourages you, what encourages you, what you need to keep your interest peaking, when to ease up, when to push, and most important, how far you want to take it.
Reason 4: There’s Never Been Such A Wealth of Experience To Tap In To
Pick the brains of those seasoned athletes who have been doing the same sport for fifteen years. Take them out for a smoothie and ask what they wish they they’d known when they got into the sport. This kind of personal advice is invaluable. And to get a humble perspective of what you’re doing, ask them if they’ve taken up any new sports lately. You may come away feeling a lot different about your new accomplishments.
Reason 5: Your Passion and Enthusiasm is Infectious!
Veteran athletes felt this way too when they started. They’ll gravitate towards you and as intimidating as it may feel, if they offer to show you the ropes and invite you on a bike ride or snowboarding, take them up on it!
Reason 6: You’re Ready to Test Your Comfort Level
Instead of beating yourself up on how slow, clumsy, and basically, inexperienced you are, embrace it. You’re learning! When I learned how to play golf, my former boyfriend got me on the course immediately. I improved rapidly by simply doing my best to keep up and if not, just picking up the ball. When I started mountain biking, if the terrain became too technical I got off the bike and walked over the obstacle.
Reason 7: Technology!
With today’s technology, there is a slew of innovative products and access to experts in the fitness industry. The internet houses a limitless library of YouTube videos, articles, and forums on every activity and sport. Watching instructional videos helps me see what I’m trying to learn and how others are teaching it. Whether it’s instructional skateboarding trick apps, access to mountain bike trail maps, performance tracking, there is an app for every learning need. There are products and gadgets to enhance, entertain, and empower. My most favorite gadget is a waterproof headset that allows me to listen to music while swimming laps.
Reason 8: Me Time!
It’s time to turn the attention to yourself. Our busy, fast lifestyle takes us from one task to another without a break. Taking on a new sport or activity is time for your mind and body to connect. It’s all you — your commitment to getting there, you knowing what it’ll take, and you knowing you’re ready for it.