I hate sport and always have.
In PE lessons we were always split into two groups: those who were naturally good at sports and those who were not. I was a bit of a floater. If there weren’t enough in the ‘good at sports’ group to make up teams, due to illness or holidays or whatever, I was always the one in the ‘not good at sports’ group who was moved ‘up’. But then I spent the whole lesson being not passed to or yelled at.
In the ‘not good at sports’ group, the teacher would give us a ball and a basic exercise then ignore us for the rest of the lesson, so she could spend time with those who had sporting potential. During those lessons I was literally in a team with people who, if they caught a throw, would be so excited, they would run around the pitch cheering for themselves!
Also, it turns out that at the time I had acetabular dysplasia (which would lead to arthritis and a total hip replacement before I was 30). That explained the limp, my inability to do long distance running (I also hated athletics and cross country) and my constant discomfort.
Sports was the one thing for which I wasn’t top of the class, the one thing I couldn’t make myself good at, no matter how hard I tried. So you can see why I hated sports.
Since school I’ve tried a few things: rock and roll, aerobics, tai-chi, body-balance, pilates, yoga and working out at the gym with a personal trainer.
I loved rock and roll, but that was a university class, never to be done again. I enjoyed tai-chi, but when we moved from London, there were no classes to be found. I loathed aerobics, especially all the skinny women bouncing around while I struggled to get co-ordinated. I enjoyed pilates for a while, but the hip replacement and pregnancies put a kibosh on that. I didn’t have enough money to maintain the gym membership or personal trainer. Yoga was pure evil.
Since the arthritis was diagnosed in 2006 I haven’t done any exercise at all (apart from walking, does that count?).
This has now changed. When my son turned four he was old enough to start karate lessons. So I took him, and my daughter (years of being bullied has made me think kids should learn self-defence). One day, when I was sat watching, the sensei encouraged me to join in. She badgered me for a couple of weeks then finally offered me a deal I couldn’t resist: all three of us could do the one hour lesson for £10.
I caved and decided to give it a try.
I LOVED it.
I don’t pick things up immediately – I’m not naturally sporty as you know – but I try and then I go home and practise until I feel like I have got the move down (I haven’t gone home and practised moves since rock and roll). I am exercising with my children, showing them a good example. I’m having a lot of fun, losing weight and toning up. I’m in a mixed age class with a lot of kids, so I don’t feel as if I have to compete with the ‘skinnies’. I’m learning self-defence and I passed my first grading with a distinction (I’m now a white belt and ridiculously proud of that, even though the four year old and seven year old are too). I’m learning Japanese words and phrases. I’ve punched through boards, used nunchukus and feel a bit like Bruce Lee.
There will come a point when I can’t progress any further – the hip replacement will make some things impossible: head height kicks for example. And I won’t be able to compete or do real combat stuff in case I hurt my hip. But I want to move up the gradings as far as I can, to do the katas and learn self defence.
I also want to do this as a family activity with the children.
Finally I’ve found the exercise for me. It’s only taken me 36 years.
I guess sport is like reading. When people say they hate reading, I say they haven’t found the right book. And it seems that although I always hated exercise, I just hadn’t found the right sport.