I didn’t consider myself an athlete growing up. I started my sports journey as a soccer player at the age of 5. I found the running back and forth to be rather boring. I joined softball and was on a team called The Kittens. Fierce, I know. I had a solid batting average, but I got more enjoyment over my Dad being the scorekeeper and my babysitter being the coach than I did out of actually playing. I left sports behind in the 8th grade to pursue drama and student government. I hit the treadmill a few times before high school graduation while watching reruns of Felicity. That was about it.
When I reached college, I became a gym-goer, but not a very serious gym-goer. Thursdays at the fitness center were spent gossiping with friends about our drunk antics at The Irish Times the night before. The elliptical machine was ideal for holding my People magazine. And the luscious lap pool was great that one time I went in it. I graduated college in 2007, destined for a lifetime of joining various NYC gyms, taking that first free personal training session, and complaining about the lack of shampoo and fresh towels in the basement of CitiFitness on 14th street.
In March 2015, I was inspired to get more serious about my fitness. People around me were signing up for races, going to SoulCycle 4 days a week, and talking about Crossfit WODs. I knew there must be more out there then just swiping my key at Crunch. Fitness was a lifestyle, and I wanted in. I signed up for a Weigh Hard Cardio class with instructor Erin Bulvanoski. This 45-minute workout was amazing. The first thing I noticed though was that this class was a real challenge. And whatever I was doing on my own was not real exercise. This class pushed me past my limits. I was hooked and determined to go back to her class every Tuesday.
I soon became a ClassPass member so I could try everything. I started to jog before classes and soon signed up for a 10K. I started spinning at Peloton, kettlebell swinging at The Fhitting Room, attending track practice at Mile High Run Club, and even dancing with Banana Skirt Studios. I saw how much progress I was making in fitness, and craved hitting that next goal. How much more weight can I snatch? How much further can I run? How many more burpees can I do in a minute? I was officially a fitness junkie. And now I even work at ClassPass.
As I continued to gain strength in exercise, I craved the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a great fitness experience. I folded fitness into my life completely. No longer would I swipe my subway card if I could walk or bike. The alarm crept up even earlier so I could take the 70 minute trek from Fort Greene to Flatiron to get to my morning class. Weekends of taking the subway to various NYC neighborhoods turned into elaborate Citibike tours with my partner and friends, sometimes exploring every single borough in one day, all via foot or bicycle. I traded in my sandals and boots for fitness shoes and slip-on Keds. I moved my jeans to the back of the closet and swapped in athletic pants of every length imaginable. Of course, I still love to put on my Rent the Runway outfit of the day and paint the town red. But I always gravitate towards moving my body in a meaningful way, and being fully prepared to sweat it out, whether speed walking through busy streets, gliding into the bike lane, or strolling over a beautiful NY bridge.
My new found obsession for fitness felt ingrained in every fiber of my being. I didn’t know how to define it at first. Was I runner? A fitness fanatic? A spin cycle maniac? I was all of those things, which makes me an athlete. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.” I may not join a softball league. I don’t run to kick the ball at a backyard bbq. But I am highly skilled in exercise and demonstrate my strength on the bike, with the kettlebell, and while doing everyday activities. I am an athlete.
When I realized I was an athlete, I knew I wanted to take a step back from drinking because a hungover spin class, a dehydrated running body, and a dizzy barbell lift were taking away from my athleticism. Drinking and being an athlete were two worlds that when collided made me feel terrible. When my friend introduced me to Athletic Brewing, I immediately fell in love with getting the great taste of beer that wouldn’t make me dread the 5AM alarm waking me up for my next Treads & Sleds class. Athletic Brewing brought those two worlds together in harmony.
Being an athlete is a defining characteristic for me now and I take it with me everywhere I go in the world. I can experience the world in so many ways. When you find your strength through fitness, you learn that the strength exists both internally and externally. Having the mental power to believe you can push yourself further and having the power to actually do it is an amazing feeling of strength that can propel you through the rest of your day, and even the rest of your life.
You are an athlete. What will you do with your strength?