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updated: 4/1/2013 2:41 PM

Being klutzy no longer a reason to avoid gym

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  • See how my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler, is ready to grab that bar at any second? He has good reasons for that: I'm not too graceful in the gym, and I hit my head, trip and drop things a lot.

      See how my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler, is ready to grab that bar at any second? He has good reasons for that: I'm not too graceful in the gym, and I hit my head, trip and drop things a lot.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer


To paraphrase one of my favorite fictional characters of all time -- GOB Bluth from "Arrested Development" -- I've (maybe) made a huge mistake.

My boyfriend, Brian, and I have been trying to figure out ways to add activity to our days off, since stupid never-ending winter doesn't allow us to go hiking or ride bikes.

So on a whim the other day, I bought a pair of boxing gloves and focus mitts. I've done some boxing during Saturday morning boot camps at Push Fitness, and it was so much fun! Brian seemed interested in giving it a try, so what the heck, I thought. It'll be fun! It'll help us get fit!

And what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. I'm not exactly graceful, and Brian is downright injury-prone.

Brian is the more athletic of the two of us -- he was a soccer player and a swimmer. But he has broken his nose playing baseball and had multiple concussions (including one from somehow running headfirst into a stage during gym class in grade school). He also has a nagging wrist injury from falling while running several years ago.

As for me, more than a decade of ballet, tap, jazz and tumbling? Right down the drain. I separate my shoes into "dangerous" and "nondangerous" categories. The painful knee I talk about all the time? I hurt it tripping over my own feet. I injured my right shoulder carrying a heavy purse. If I move my head at all while walking on a treadmill, I tip over a little bit.

Throwing caution to the wind, we tried boxing a few times. I'm sure no MMA fighters are shaking in their boots, but it's been a whole lot of fun that certainly beats time in front of the TV. And, better yet, it's been so far mostly injury-free, too!

I'm not much more graceful during my workouts. At the beginning of this Fittest Loser journey, a little part of me really believed that, by this point, maybe the former gracefulness of my ballerina days would magically return.

Well, that hasn't exactly happened, at least not yet. I am much stronger, more flexible and doing exercises I never imagined possible (I can plank for a full minute!) But my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler, has been forced to add instructions such as "don't trip" and "don't hit your head" to my workouts, because those things happen pretty frequently. I've also smacked myself in the face quite a few times, and I'm pretty sure I've seen people scatter whenever I swing a kettlebell.

You may wonder why I'm telling you these embarrassing stories. Simple: Because this clumsiness is a big part of what kept me away from the gym for so many years. Believe it or not, I could get past knowing I could be the fattest person in the gym. What I couldn't deal with was the possibility of falling off a treadmill or doing something else equally clumsy that would draw all eyes to me (if there's one thing I hate, it's being the center of attention).

But even with all the goofy, klutzy things I've done over the past several weeks? Nobody's stared; they just kept doing their own workouts, probably worrying about the same stuff I'm worrying about.

The only person who has even had anything to say about my lack of grace is Josh -- which is completely appropriate -- and, thankfully, he's got a really good sense of humor about it.

Will I ever have my ballerina grace back? I have no idea. But what I do know is I won't ever let something so silly keep me away from the gym again.

• Melynda Findlay is a member of the night copy desk at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 14 years. She lives in Arlington Heights and really loves grilled cheese sandwiches.

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