I sit here with a broken wrist and a sprained ankle, unable to do much of anything. As a trainer and coach, I am the queen of modification. I would never let a client off the hook if they had any kind of localized injury because, I would say, “we can always work around it.“ Yet here I am, challenged to find any activity that I can do until I am fully healed.
Before the accident, where one misstep in an unfortunately designed pair of shoes took me down, I had big fitness plans. I had pushed myself into a running program. I was ready to go to the next level in my strength training, after spending the last three months building up a solid foundation that didn’t aggravate my injuries. I was going to really get somewhere this time!
But for now, I can barely walk around my home, let alone the neighborhood. My Peloton bike sits there, abandoned. My weights, bars, plates, bands, all untouched. My big plans for reaching the next level came to a screeching halt.
In the meantime, my husband, who has never found a formal exercise program he was ever interested in, seems to never stop moving. Between activities such as golf, a work-related sand volleyball league, yardwork, fixing things around the house, transporting firewood, helping out neighbors and more, he is always on the go. He’s also relatively healthy and quite content.
Which brings me to Edmonds resident and by-example-longevity-expert, Jan Robertson, whom I wrote about previously. I just spoke with her and she tells me the same thing she tells me every time… “I’m out in the yard every day doing as much as I can because everything is growing like crazy!” The woman is 92 years old and she can keep up with the best gardeners out there. She’s also relatively healthy and quite content.
In our culture that glorifies pushing harder and longer to get stronger, faster and fitter, “average” movement is rarely rewarded or recognized.
Us average folks who do average exercise, people like my husband and Jan, perhaps you, and me too, are to be commended for being active in less intense ways more regularly, for weaving movement into the fabric of daily life in such a way that it endures long-term.
From where I presently sit, injured, “average” never looked so good or seemed so much like something for which to strive. I’ve never been content in my own periods of minimal activity—I give myself little credit for anything where I don’t feel I pushed or challenged. Even walking, something I do regularly and enjoy quite a lot, feels hardly worth doing if there aren’t hills involved or if there isn’t a fast pace involved.
I’m rethinking my own perceptions around activities like (leisurely) walking, gardening, yardwork, home or garage projects, golfing, stretching, yoga, leisurely biking, swimming in a pool or a lake or at a beach, participating in a team sport, playing with the kids or grandkids … and more. Any kind of movement is a wonderful thing. Being able to move in whatever way you can is a wonderful thing.
By doing “average” activity, you may not be as fit as you want to be, you may not be as lean as you want to be, you may not be as strong as you want to be, but that’s not always the point. There is a time and place in life to commit to goals like those, if that’s what you choose. But I think there are quite a lot of us who gain longevity, stress reduction, fun and mobility through consistent moderate movement. And we enjoy it.
It’s sounding better than ever to me. I am always glad to be reminded of how the biggest results can come from the smallest, consistent actions over the long term.
So, let’s strive to be average people doing average activity. Because “average” is actually something truly magnificent.
— By Pritam Potts
Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After 16+ years of training athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.mrsathlete.net and www.advancedathlete.com.