When I was a kid

When I was a kid, I was the annoying brainiac who used to like to announce to grownups (especially my gym teachers) that I preferred mental gymnastics to actual gymnastics. Yes, I actually said that, several times, to several people. I mean, I liked to ride my bike fast and go swimming and ice skating – and a good sweaty neighborhood game of after-dinner tag or hide and seek? nothing better – but when it came to actual organized exercise or sports, I’d rather spend a few hours poking through the library. Or even alone in my room, staring at the wall.

So, in seventh grade I decided I had a chronic backache because I read that it would be almost impossible to prove my back didn’t hurt. My mom took me to the doctor and I just about cried from joy when he told her I had scoliosis and then wrote me a permanent excuse from gym class. Seriously, an actual diagnosis! And a golden permanent excuse to never again endure the tyranny of gym class!

I think I got goosebumps. Scoliosis! What a bonus! (For all my scoliosis people: I know it’s not really a bonus, but I was in middle school and not nearly as smart as I thought I was.)

Even I can see how it’s pretty darn ironic that I’m now a personal trainer who also is certified to teach 6 (and counting) different group exercise classes, that I’ve written hundreds of articles on fitness for dozens of publications, and I also am an athlete who craves movement. It’s been a long ride from there to here, but I think it’s been a helpful one that allows me to relate to regular people who live real lives. (And the scoliosis? Another irony: if I don’t stay active, my hip and back become very angry with me.)

Our bodies love to move. They were built for it. Moving – whether it’s picking up things and putting them down, walking, running, dancing, biking, kickboxing, whatever – relieves stress, gets us out of our heads, helps keep our blood sugar stable, our blood pressure down, our bellies smaller and can even help make our lives longer.

And all this movement doesn’t have to be complicated. It can actually be fun – even if you prefer a more intellectual approach to life.

In this new blog, I hope to make fitness approachable and fun for everyone, whether you’re a gym rat from way back to someone who feels like they are being forced to go back to gym class. I’m lucky enough to identify with both groups.

So what’s our first assignment? If you’re new to exercising, just go do something for a few minutes. What should you do? I don’t care – simply pick something you enjoy. Go ride a bike. That’s how I started, on an exercise bike in my family’s basement, for five minutes. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Or go walk a lap around the neighborhood. Plug a dance game into the Wii. Just go do it, and then be done. (For the gym rats: your assignment is to go do something different than you normally do. Step outside your comfort zone.) You’ll feel better.

Now, what do we want to talk about first?

Wendy Watkins

About Wendy Watkins

Wendy Watkins is a Bangor-based personal trainer, fitness coach, studio owner, and writer/editor. She is the author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 Months. Visit her website at thrivebangor.com.