Fitness was indoctrinated very early on in my life. Healthy competition and athleticism began with seasons of tee-ball, basketball summer camps, and track and field in high school, supplemented by dance on the offseason. With a buzzing household of four active boys and my bountiful curious female presence, my parents always encouraged us to “go outside and play.” My household was never not moving!
My earliest (and perhaps fondest) memory of fitness was watching my mother every day after school. She hastily preheated the oven before going to her bedroom as she got us settled into our school work. There, she removed her tailored office clothes, kicked off her favorite black patent-leather “cockroach-killer” heels and traded them for one of my dad’s t-shirts and her favorite spandex biker shorts. With her work files piled high on the kitchen counter, she threw some pasta sauce on the stove with a heaping amount of fresh and dry herbs simmering over low heat for that evening’s dinner. At exactly 3:30 pm every afternoon, she popped in her early 90s aerobics VHS tape and jumped right into her enthusiastic stepping. I marveled at the overly-animated, permed out fitness instructor sporting spandex and white ankle socks motivating my super-hero of a mom to “go for another 30 seconds more” as she panted between incoming house calls and me racing my sibling’s toy-cars by her feet.
This image of my multi-faceted mother trying to balance work, family, and self-care is forever engraved in my mind. I understand now why it was necessary for my mother to commit to fitness. To my mother, fitness was loving herself and caring about how she felt regardless of the external demands life asked of her to fulfill. To this day, I credit my mother for not only being an example for healthy living but continuing it as a practice today. She was, after all, the person I went to get a gym membership with. We worked out together, supported each other, and reminded one another (while thrift shopping) that the number on the tag of that dress is not as important as the way you feel in it.