It’s funny—growing up, even though I fumbled my way through years of team sports and even ran track and cross country for an NCAA Division I team (Go Mount!), I never truly considered myself an athlete. A swimmer, sure. A runner, of course. But an athlete? That label was reserved for those who were coordinated and agile across the board, like my college roommate Ashley who could play basketball as well as she could run, could hurl a javelin halfway across a football field and launch herself 12 feet in the air with a pole vault. As for me, well, I could run far and kind of fast, but I was also gangly, awkward, and pretty weak. Certainly not an athlete.
Or was I? Over time, the lines blurred and my perception of what defined athleticism shifted. Having kids made me feel stronger than ever. Going from square one--completely out of shape (with more than a few pounds to lose)—to feeling fit again lead me on a path to rediscovering my inner-athlete…the one who is committed to reaching a goal, competitive, confident, and driven. And, while training hard and staying disciplined to get back into shape after three pregnancies, I began to identify more with other women who have similar stories and goals, regardless of what sport they play or used to play.
Like, right now, I’m in a Facebook challenge group with a bunch of women where we do a set number of squats and planks every day for one month. Squats and planks are so not my thing. They take me out of my comfort zone and they hurt. But every day, I’m encouraged to get them done. We’re all of varying fitness levels and athletic backgrounds (the girl who started the group was a softball and swimming star), but most of us are moms. And the support we give each other to bust out that workout each day is the reason why I can now do 150 squats in a row and a 2.5-minute plank without crumbling to the ground. (Let’s not talk about the fact that I have to do 250 squats and a 5-minute plank in two weeks! One day at a time…).
So, what I’ve discovered is that you don’t have to be an Ironman or a CrossFitter or a marathoner to consider yourself an athlete. As long as you have a fitness dream for yourself and are committed to go after it, you are an AthleteMom. Welcome to the club.