For years, I’ve told people that I am supremely un-athletic. When I say I’m uncoordinated, I’m not being modest or downplaying. I just really don’t have a great sense for where my body exists in space (or which side is my left vs my right). Once, during a softball game, I managed to hit the ball so that it bounced into fair territory but had so much backspin that it flew back up, hit me in the face, and tagged me out all at the same time. It’s a talent, but not the kind that gets you endorsements and ad deals, more the kind that gets you 15 minutes of infamy as a meme or gif.
I also never had a standard gait. As a child, I literally skipped just about everywhere and when I did walk, teachers and other students would remark on how odd it looked. While today I would most likely have gotten physical and occupational therapy for the gait itself and the sensory issues that underlay it, back in the 80s when I was a kid, that wasn’t so much a “thing”. I never particularly enjoyed being active, hated gym classes deeply, and when getting bitten by a dog plus developing bursitis in both hips put an end to my short-lived running habit in high school, I stopped doing much physical activity for quite a while.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s and started as an aide in a physical therapy clinic that I started getting back into fitness. Funny thing I discovered when I started working there: people who do PT for a living tend to like athletics and activity. My coworkers gently helped me retrain my gait so that it’s far more normal (bonus, when my gait got better, I got rid of the bursitis) and, because there happened to be a fitness center attached to the clinic where we all got free memberships, encouraged me to consult the personal trainers there and develop a program – and continued to encourage me when I did that. The positive feedback worked and I managed to get into the habit of activity that has continued to this day.
I’m still not coordinated, I still don’t have any athletic talent, I still trip over my own feet, I have a chronic back issue that flares up on and off, and my grand plan for winning any kind of race is to get into my 90s and win my age category by dint of being one of the only ones in that age bracket doing the race. But I get out there, jog lightly, walk, and strength train around 2.5-3 hours a week, and find that it increases both my mental and physical well-being. I’ve often said that I’m bookish and nerdy (true), but I suppose at this point, I can’t honestly say I’m un-athletic any more.