Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting Back Into Shape: For the Love of Derby and More

Learning to skate and then, hopefully, play the great sport of roller derby is a challenge.

But being in shape to do it all? Now that's an even bigger challenge.

See, at one time, while I was never a ripped specimen of manhood, I was a good bit more in shape than I am now. I could play volleyball from sun-up to sundown, and even sometimes beyond that. And then get up and do it again the next day, without fail, for weekends at time, let alone tons of ball in between.

I also dabbled in other sports, basketball and tennis among them. Tennis was a little more infrequent as its somewhat of a skill-specific type of thing that really isn't fun unless folks have at least a bit of knowledge. And basketball came in bits and fits, finding pick up games here and there as a bit of cross-training, the volleyball complementing my skills on the basketball court nicely as my coordination developed more and more and my vertical leap improved.

But marriage, more "mature" adulthood, and children eventually entered into the picture and some of those things began to wane. Volleyball, once a five-to-seven days a week obsession, became relegated to something that I did when I could as open gym opportunities and even fellow players dropped off. Soon, I would lay it down, more or less for good, as the demands of parenting became greater.

Thankfully, I had a fitness savior in the sport of basketball and an unconventional pick-up game that happened three times a week. I randomly discovered it's existence while at a birthday party for a friend's child and asked my way in. Soon, I was out at 5:30 in the morning three times a week for some good and good natured, if sleepy, basketball. This went on for years and years.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and about three and a half years ago, with the purchase of our first house, and the growth and development of our second child, and the fact that some of the guys who were part of the morning basketball group were banged up and tired, and that came to a close. Leaving me with nothing to get me up off of the couch save for yard work.

So here I am, with this history behind me, and I'm trying to wrap this overly out of shape body into the sport of roller derby. And while I haven't really suffered from massive fatigue or exhaustion yet, I know it's coming. Sure, I've had that nice lower back burn from skating but I've not been winded or sucking air. But I've seen folks pushing for their 25 in 5 and I'm not looking forward to it at all, let alone being in a bout one day (Lord willing) and having to yell, "Wait up, guys!" just to keep up with the pack. Plus, once I get out there, I'm not going to be content with just keeping up. I'd like to shine, at least occasionally and that won't happen if I'm skating like that kid Chunk from The Goonies.

Therefore, I find myself in need of some fitness training. Its something I've known and wanted to get started for some time but knowing, wanting, and doing are very different animals. Its one thing to know you're out of shape; it's entirely another to do something about it. I've scouted out gyms (never have been a gym rat), I've tried getting something as simple as a walking program going (meh...), and I've scoured Craigslist for bikes and stationary bikes that fit the budget (nothing yet.)

And part of the problem is that even if I joined a gym or found a bike, what would be the motivating factor for me to use them? Sure, the spirit is willing but, well, the flesh is weak. I'm a regular guy with multiple jobs, responsibilities, kids, and a wife to boot. It's no legitimate excuse but its been mine for so long that its almost impossible to convince myself otherwise. My time is limited and, when I do have it, I defer to letting my body rest because I know what's to come.

But still the need for me to get back in shape remains. And the words of an old friend resonate through my mind as he shared one time, "I don't people who say they don't have time to do this or that. If you want to do something, you'll find time to do it."

Damn. I hate when other people are right.

So, I'm trying to motivate myself. I'm trying to get focused and get myself moving. And it's not just for me; it's for my family and kids. I want them to learn to enjoy being active as I have in my earlier years and experience what it's like to feel healthy. I want them to develop those deep waters of self confidence and strength that really help one to navigate the roads of life. And I want to live long enough to see them grow and become amazing people.

And, kids aside, I'd like to look good for my wife. She's an amazing woman who's taught me so much about life and love and she deserves the very best of me, even if it was me who married up. She deserves someone who's taking care of himself.

And with that motivation and need, I'm doing my best to seek out two things. One, an effective and manageable mode of getting my ass back in shape. Whether its P90X, Insanity, or some other thing like the C25K program, I've got to commit to something and stick with it. I know that I'll eventually see results if I can just stay focused. And that need for focus leads me to my second need, that of accountability.

Accountability with derby is something that I've already found. This very blog is something I use to keep me locked in alongside the relationships and friendships I've already made throughout this journey. And as ProseHack reminded me this week as I messaged her to let her know why I'd be missing practice (due to our stupid car being in the shop, still!), with the concern that she know I wasn't trying to bail, I've passed that opportunity a long time ago. There's no getting out now!

But with fitness, it's another story. My wife and I have never really been good at keeping each other focused in those areas, not wanting to come across as bossy and pushy. And frankly, my list of friends at this point in life isn't very full either, leaving me to wonder how to keep myself focused and motivated. So, I'm turning to you, dear reader, for advice: How do you keep yourself motivated to stay in shape? What keeps you focused? Do you have someone that keeps you accountable or are you a self-starter? If so, what have you found that works?

I want to get there, not only for derby, although that's a big part of it, but for myself. For my well-being and for my confidence. And I will. I've just gotta figure out how.


  1. go do some squats, calf raises, and lunges. :P

  2. I would if that pesky "real life" wasn't plaguing me, keeping me indoors at work, at a desk, pounding away at a keyboard with a trip to the fair looming tonight and the promise of delicious deep-fried delicacies beckoning to me...