One of the many perks of working at Austin Fit Magazine is that the opportunity to do all kinds of fitness stuff during the workday comes up. I frequently look around and exclaim, “I LOVE my job!” when I’m doing something like, oh, watching classic videos of the mile for use on the website, researching some amazing athlete (and then talking to him/her!), or getting to go out and physically do something.
This Monday, I had the opportunity to go out to Camp Mabry with Melanie Moore, AFM‘s editor in chief, Pam LeBlanc, awesome fitness writer for the Austin American-Statesman, and Diane Vives, trainer extraordinaire and master-mind behind the ten challenges that make up the 2012 AFM FITTEST presented by Nexersys. Only for once, I was a little nervous. You see, we were going to run through each of the FITTEST challenges (all ten), and Melanie and Pam had a little friendly wager going on as to who would perform better.
I joked that I was there for “plucky comic relief.” Inside, I was not really laughing. I suspect a lot of people are looking at the FITTEST and wondering, “Will I embarrass myself in front of a bunch of people if I take this on?” My only hope was that I would hang tough and not look like the slow, fat girl of the group. I work with a lot of beginner athletes, and I know these are common fears among women who are starting out in a new sport–being last and looking like crap. Did I mention there would be cameras at this thing? Joy. My inner athletic goddess doesn’t always translate well to film.
It was a beautiful morning, and it’s hard to be nervous when you’re out in the sunshine, working out with friends. Melanie wound up tweaking a calf injury and was forbidden from doing more by Diane, so it was just me and Pam. We decided that we’d approach the tests from a spirit of exploration and be willing to sacrifice performance to try out optional approaches (for example, you can stand to start the 40-yard dash or do a track start. Each contestant gets two tries, so we each did one standing and one track start).
I’m coming clean here: I can’t do a pull-up to save my life. I’m out of shape right now (though coming back) and feeling slow. I’ve got extra pounds on me. One minute of Burpees was akin to hell, and my ankle and old hamstring tear yelled at me for attempting. But running through those tests were a BLAST. Pam best described the fun as “field day for grown-ups.” I forgot all about the cameras and competition with another; the only person I was competing against was myself. It’s almost addictive. I’d do a test, then watch Pam stomp my time (she was gracious in her blog about it), and I IMMEDIATELY wanted to do it again. Because of the logical progression of the tests which is based on muscle groups and power systems used, I felt ready and recovered for each new one…and I was rarin’ to challenge myself. The most fun? For me, it was the agility cone drill. The test I’d most like to improve on is the interval run (dude, I am SOO marking out the intervals on my driveway or street!). It quickly became evident that just a little bit of familiarity and practice would reap great rewards. It was so much fun that it was with reluctance that we had to stop and go back to our offices. But we agreed to try it again before the test dates on June 9-10 in order to see our improvements.
My message here? Don’t be afraid of the 2012 AFM FITTEST. Sign up; no one will be watching with the intent to put you down while you go through the tests on qualifying day. We found ourselves cheering each other on–you want to see a competitor give a good performance and you understand when it’s not so great. After all, each of us has both strengths and weaknesses. What matters is the heart to get out there and test yourself. Use your results as a benchmark and then work to improve. After all, I did it and had fun…just don’t laugh when you see any of the Burpees video. Please.