When I was growing up, there was one school subject I hated more than anything: Physical Education. I was a good student in my academic classes, and I loved participating in music and performing arts, but I always dreaded having to take Phys. Ed.
As someone who prefers more quiet settings, I found Phys. Ed. confusing and intimidating. The classes consisted of screaming kids frantically running around with flying projectiles in a loud, enclosed space. And as far as I could tell, athleticism did not come naturally to me. My only good memories of the class come from my senior year of high school, when my teacher let me walk the track by myself while my classmates played inside. Some kids may have seen this as punishment, but as a non-athletic introvert, I was happy to get some fresh air while listening to music on my Sony Walkman.
When I graduated from high school, I was overjoyed to be free of Phys. Ed. I went to a college with no Phys. Ed class requirements, and after that, I entered the working world. I also started spending most of my days sitting down, either working at a computer, commuting in a car, or watching TV. I joined a great, friendly aerobics class, but it only met once per week. I tried going to the local gym, but something about it felt just as intimidating as Phys. Ed class—struggling with fitness equipment in a loud room full of strangers just didn’t appeal to me. As the years passed, I realized that I didn’t have the level of physical fitness I wanted and that it wasn’t going to get any easier to get fitter.
I knew I had to make a change and that I couldn’t do it by myself. That’s why two months ago, I hired a personal trainer. Fortunately, there is a small fitness room in my townhouse complex, so I go there with my trainer twice a week for our one-hour training sessions. She teaches me new exercises, then coaches me on my technique using weights that are just heavy enough to stretch my limits safely. In between sessions, I also go to the fitness room by myself to walk the treadmill and practice the exercises she taught me. During this time, I can watch TV, listen to podcasts, or just have a quiet workout. Even when another person comes into the fitness room, we give each other space and do our individual workouts.
Despite my childhood aversion to Physical Education, I have discovered my new identity as a “gym-trovert”: an introvert who is comfortable and motivated while working out in the gym. With one-on-one personal training, my solitary workouts, and some physical social activities with friends (walking in the park and aerobics class), I’ve found a nice mix of activities that helps me balance my energy while moving me towards my fitness goals. I’ve lost a few pounds already, and overall I feel stronger and healthier.
I learned from my trainer that everyone has to find a physical routine that works for them. If you don’t enjoy it or it’s too disruptive, it’s really challenging to stick to it. I have a while to go before I reach my fitness goals, but I’m happy to have found a routine that works for me. I also learned that I am physically capable of more than I ever expected, and I have a new sense of confidence and strength.
It doesn’t matter if you’re introverted or extroverted, or how athletic you believe you are—there are many paths to a goal, and with time and commitment, you can find the path that works for you.
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