Since I was four, I’ve been constantly involved in all possible extracurricular physical activities. If it was a desire of my parents to keep me busy, to help me find my passion or just a recommended remedy to control energy levels of a hyper active kid – I honestly don’t know. Every year I would start in a new dance or sport club, which, as the last surviving bits of Soviet infrastructure at that time, were plenty around my house. As a child, I would enjoy all the new beginnings, because moving in a group with music is fun, but frankly speaking mostly because it was something that made me different at school and worked as a fantastic excuse to postpone my homework. For the whole one year I was even spending 5 days a week in a local synchronized swimming club, which was a launch pad for many future professional swimmers, but at an early stage I was identified as a kid with little talent. I couldn’t make a split for several months while some of my more flexible classmates perfected it in the first two weeks, it completely killed my motivation and I truly enjoyed long conversations with my talkative and also inflexible friend Yana in the pool much more than 2 hours long rowing exercises. An excuse of back pain was born soon and that was my last touch with anything close to professional sports.
Generally, there was always just one little problem: I could never stay in any sport or dance club for long enough. I would lose any motivation soon, make up thousands of excuses and my parents wouldn’t insist, as I was especially good with logical reasoning and with making “Shrek Cute Cat Eyes” when it came to something I didn’t want to do.
However, even though I was quite sporadic in my sport activities, I still belonged to the minority of kids who were “doing something”. It seemed that all in all sport wasn’t a priority among the after-school activities and children going to any regular classes were a clear exception. Even our PE classes for many (including me) were not among the most favored activities, unless we played games or went skating. But for games there were barely more than ten minutes during the class, because according to curriculum, long jumps and sprints with prescribed norms equally measured for kids of all sizes and physical abilities were more important.
Natural de-prioritization of any physical activity was eagerly supported by many parents: it was clear that doing your math homework or taking extra history classes was much more useful than chasing a ball with other random kids or engage yourself in any other non-intellectual repetitive exercise. As kids, we learned default prioritization well and quite unconsciously we would obediently keep applying it in many years to come, but in other circumstances. First studies and exams, then extra hours at work, then children, then tones of responsibilities we could never even imagine will always become more important than taking an hour a day off to make our muscles stronger. Because, we say, there is no time – but in reality, there is no priority, no discipline and no habit. But mostly, there is no motivation, which often only appears once we start falling apart after 18 hours a day spent in a sitting position.
However, when we grow up things do not change to worse with new responsibilities and stiff muscles, instead they change to better. We lose our lightheartedness, but we become owners of our time and decisions, and people around us accept it and treat us differently. Besides, the only people we can look for excuses for are ourselves, which is quite a useless exercise.
If you take two years to make a split, nobody will scream at you or give up on you. You are not a six-year-old anymore, you won’t make it to professional sports anyways, and you are not taking a place of another 6 year old who could. But most important – you most likely neither need professional sport, nor a split, you have a different motivation, you do everything consciously and there are always people and trainers around to support you with reaching your own goals, like being more active and healthy or knowing and controlling your body.
But wait. Not making it to professional sports? How about Johanna Quaas, an 86-years old gymnast, who started with gymnastics in her fifties?
And it is not just about this astonishing lady. Over the past few years I’ve been watching dozens of inspiring examples from real people, whom I know personally. They’ve never had anything to do with professional sports, and some of them only got introduced to sport after graduating from a university. But every day they go for hours long trainings in running, swimming, dancing, figure skating, they win competitions, run marathons, open schools, become trainers themselves, enjoy every move and sweat drop, overcome themselves in daily routine, and more impressive is that they do it along with their normal lives, along with every day commitments that we know and all have, along with their full-time jobs and families, and sometimes even kids. What’s the result? Health, shiny eyes, true enjoyment of what they do and of course, great looks. What’s the secret? Consciousness, understanding of what and why you do, and inspiration. What’s the contribution? Incredible discipline, will power, desire and dedication to do what you like and need.
And every single day these people remind me that with the right discipline and motivation you can train yourself in anything. At any age.