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I used to be one of those people that hated the summer. Summertime always meant having to pretend I liked being physical and doing outside things; I didn’t mind those things in theory (I mean, I like nature, I like the feel of sunshine on my skin), but I felt so lazy and out of shape that I could never really enjoy playing or participating. I think it was a mix of low self-confidence and lack of exercise – I hated the way I looked trying to do summer activities, and I hated that I couldn’t really participate fully.

I have to admit, I love being outside. Ever since I started running, I trained outside. I have really grown to love exercising, and while classes at Healthworks are among my favorite activities, there is something about exercising outside that just feels amazing. Last year, I visited my friend J.’s summer home in Maine, and basically for the first time in my life I played every sport that everybody else was playing. Soccer, frisbee, basketball, running, swimming – I did it all, and I loved it. It felt pretty amazing to be able to just go for it, without caring what I looked like or if my body allowed me to be the fastest. I just engaged and went for it, and had a good time.

Every once in a while I have similar experiences, where I suddenly realize that I have this body that can do all sorts of fun, amazing things. J., her boyfriend and I went canoeing on the Charles yesterday. I used to really hate canoeing and kayaking – I never felt like my upper body was strong enough, and I always got so tired, grumpy, and frustrated. This time, though, we just had fun. We all paddled and splashed around a bit, and I felt like I participated the way my body could, which was just as much as anybody else. It feels pretty amazing to be in good enough shape to do all these things. I think I finally get why people like to be active. It’s fun!

- Hannah

When I think of boxing, I imagine the middle of a ring, one light shining down from the center onto the mat. I think of the blackened eyes, the bloody noses and the shiny red gloves. I think of the boxers, shuffling around the ring, their hands up ready for combat, ready to defend.

I have never participated in such a rigorous contact sport before, unless you count co-ed youth basketball, where the refs used to let us beat up on each other. I have never trained as intensely as a boxer: running, jumping rope, punching bags, completing relentless drills all to prepare myself physically and mentally for competition. My experience training for sports has always been more about developing a skill rather than developing my body – throwing a ball, making contact with a bat, shooting a free throw. This was one of the reasons I decided to try out the boxing class offered at Healthworks. I wanted to test my body and train it solely for the sake of defending itself. Read the rest of this entry »

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