You may have come to this site because you weren't or aren't exactly a stellar example of fitness and athletic prowess in high school and college sports. You might even envy those apparently superhuman specimens on your school's team. You shouldn't.Here's A Boy, Here's A ManI don't know about you, but when I was in school, whenever it came to choosing teams in PE, nobody ever said about me, "we want Evil!" I was usually the last one left after everyone else was picked and the team still one man short got to have me.Or rather, was forced to take me. As PE is usually a regular occurrence in school, it week after a week gave me a reminder of how much of a failure I was seen when it came to sports. Lanky, skinny me apparently simply had been handed a bad ticket when it came to fitness genes.Things didn't get better when I then lived in the US and went to high school there. In Germany, schools have no sports teams and inter-school tournaments. It is only in PE where you are measured against the others, and then everyone has to participate, which at least gives you the consolation that some are at least almost as bad as you.But with school sports in the US it is almost like they were designed to constantly remind every athletically challenged kid how inferior he really is: look, these are men, you are a puny boy. It is no coincidence that the jocks and cheerleaders are the top of schools' pecking orders.Pictures courtesy of Mitch Loeber and Bill Rice.At my US high school, the top example of the athletic young man was Peter, the quarterback of our school's football team. How I wanted to be like him. In the twelfth grade, I was 5'9" and weighed 120 lbs. Peter stood a full six feet and weighed a completely muscular 180 lbs. He had full auburn hair and a jaw line that looked like you could hammer nails in with. I didn't even have to shave yet.It goes without saying that Peter also dated our top cheerleader, while I had trouble just approaching a girl. And if I did, the result usually was disaster.As Time Goes BySince then, a lot of time has gone by and a couple of weeks ago I did what most people do these days and conducted "class reunion 2.0" by looking up my former classmates on the net. Among others, I also found Peter. He still stands tall, but has lost about half of his hair, his strong jaw is slowly enveloped by a double chin and his strength is disappearing under a veritable pouch. At the same time, I went from thin to fat to fit and now am probably in the best form of my life.Now don't get me wrong. I have no idea what has happened in all those long years since I last saw Peter. Bad circumstances sometimes take their toll on us. Back in school Peter also never did me any wrong and actually often was rather friendly and outgoing, contrary to the typical jock that leaves no opportunity unused where he can make a nerd feel inferior.The GiftedHowever, there is a chance that something happened to him that I saw happen to many of those that were exceptionally fit in school: sometimes we don't value what easily comes to us and we are used to having it.Jocks have to work hard to put out a top performance, but their base form is still far above that of us average or less than average guys. Some then start feeling entitled to possess this physical fitness and may be tempted to rest on their laurels, thinking it will always be this easy for them to remain in comparatively good shape. They may not cherish what they have as much as those of us for whom every fraction of an inch more on our biceps or chest meant long and hard hours working out.Us less fortunate, for whom fitness was and is an uphill battle, are intimately familiar with our bodies - we know every small waypoint that led to the better shape we are now in, we know where we came from and we are much more hellbent to protect that shape we had to fight so hard for.If you manage to turn the envy or inferiority you feel toward those athletically superior to you into transforming and taking care of yourself, you may have been given a gift better than a winning ticket in the gene lottery.
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