“Never be afraid to try. The ark was made by amateurs and the pros built the Titanic.”
Steven Tyler’s Mom
After 20 years as a personal trainer, I discovered at least half of the population is holding onto secret wishes. The conversation would usually go like this: “Are there any athletic goals or aspirations you have ever thought you might like to try?” “Oh, yes, a marathon. But I’ve never even said that out loud before!” “Ok. Cool. Do you run?” “Never.” “Well, we have much to do. Let’s get busy!”
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I love the Olympics! It doesn’t matter the nation, sport or season, every two years I get obsessed. If you’re calling me to go out, don’t bother; if you want to spend time with me, park it on the couch and no talking except during commercial breaks! When the two weeks are up, the torch extinguished and regular snoozefest programming returns, I literally slump. Several of my friends also go through the Post-Olympic depression knowing that many cool sports, that we’ve become addicted to, like Bi-athalonand Snowboard-Cross, we just won’t see for another four years. The separation is difficult.
But the great thing I find about each and every Olympics is how much harder I begin to train in my own workouts. That’s not to say that I get delusions of grandeur and start pumping iron five days a week, three hours a day. It’s simply watching graceful individuals with purpose, dedication and discipline inspire me to emulate those qualities within myself and it starts coming out in my workouts first. It’s not that I consciously even intend to work harder and better; but I get to the end of my planned workout and I have given it my all and it has left me in a better place than when I started.
It’s true that the Olympics like church is often beset by scandal, corruption and politics. But the true Olympic spirit burns so brightly that it casts all those petty incidents into the shadows and the world is drawn together in a celebration of camaraderie and the best we have to offer each other. It doesn’t matter that I can’t pronounce the name of the athlete who just went off pace by a fraction of a second and is brought to tears, my heart breaks just the same. I yell encouraging “coach-like words” from my perch on my cushions as I see two athletes battling it out, both exemplary and both flawless – it doesn’t matter that they don’t speak my language or that they can’t hear me through the screen. The elation I feel as I do a victory lap around my living room having just watched someone achieve absolute perfection and a world record leaves me feeling like I’ve just won the gold. It doesn’t matter if they’re from my home or not.
This great spectacle of empathy allows us to celebrate the triumphs and lows of the individual, but it draws us together in one world of experience. And that is magical! And while I will be sad when the closing ceremonies turn the lights out on the athletes partying on the stadium floor, I will have been enriched by witnessing others strive to be their absolute best, not just to themselves, but to their fellow competitors, to the dogs of Sochi and to the human race!