Wouldn’t you know, sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely sources.
If you’ve been reading awhile, you already know that “fitspiration” is not my thing. It’s more psychologically damaging than inspiring, and there are far better ways to improve your body image than scrolling through the #fitspo tags on instagram or pinterest.
There are certainly times when I meet people who are dedicated athletes – like the IronMan addict I met working at Starbucks – that inspire me with their incredible accomplishments and the work they did to get there. And there’s something somewhat motivating about seeing general athletes who are in great shape at the gym (looking at you, homegirl who always takes her shirt off and does her foamrolling in the middle of the weight floor).
But the people who inspire me more than anything else are the ones who are least likely to be seen on a magazine cover, at a finish line, or even in the middle of the gym floor.
Maybe you’ve seen them, too.
The chubby teenage boy I saw jogging by on a busy street when I was at the gas station mid-morning.
You inspire me, bud. Keep it up.
The obese woman I’ve seen in the back of the group fitness room, shuffling along in Zumba class.
You inspire me, girlfriend. Keep it up.
The heavyset older man who I see powerwalking with his dogs most mornings.
You inspire me, amigo. Keep it up.
The young boy – maybe 12? – that was working out on the weight floor with 15 pound dumbbells, surrounded by guys who were much older and bigger and throwing around 45s.
You inspire me, champ. Keep it up.
The elderly woman who is thin as a rail but shows up every day to work out with a trainer or on her own, lifting weights that others might sneeze at but are clearly a challenge for her.
You inspire me, ma’am. Keep it up.
The elderly veteran who shuffles along on the same treadmill, wearing the same “Vietnam” ballcap, with the same hunched posture, every single day.
You inspire me, sir. Keep it up.
Why are they so inspiring? Sometimes I’m not sure. But I know that they do what they need to do, and from what I can see, they keep on doing it, no matter what. They are willing to be humbled, to sweat, to work hard and risk failure. They walk for awhile when they can’t run anymore. They move to a lighter set of dumbbells when the ones they’re using are too heavy. They keep movin’ and groovin’ even when the choreography doesn’t click. They keep showing up, even when the results don’t immediately follow. And they keep doing it.
Again. And again. And again.
No matter who’s watching.
No matter how unqualified they may be.
No matter whether other folks think they “belong” in a Zumba class or in jogging shoes or in the gym or on the weight floor.
No matter what…
They may not have abs, but damn, do they have heart.
They show up. And they keep going.
That is dedication.
That is perseverance.
And that is inspiring as all get out.
So to my friends in the corners of the gym and in the ill-fitting sweatpants and on the neighborhood streets and in the bodies that might not look like the typical athlete’s body, and to all those who keep showing up and keep going on:
Yall inspire me. Keep it up.