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My Definition Of Exercise This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I never liked exercise. Exercise was something that jocks - not-too-brightpeople who ran around and sweated for fun - did. Exercise involved brainless,taxing, pure effort for a goal which had no purpose. The ideal of being fiteluded me. Walking up a flight of stairs left me breathless, but I was sure italways would. Singing a note for longer than eight beats turned me blue, but Iwas certain it was simply too difficult.

My definition stemmed perhapsfrom my own complete ineptitude in all athletic events in which my ten years ofpublic school education had forced me to participate. Exercise was embarrassing,filled with humiliation and defeat. It was being the absolutely last one to bepicked for dodgeball and having the two captains fight over which one would haveto take me. It was sweaty, and messy, and the teachers didn't give me enough timeto change clothes. I did not like exercise.

But my sophomore year of highschool, the bomb dropped. Gym wouldn't fit in my schedule. After our initialglee, my parents and I sat down and wondered. So, if gym didn't fit, what would Ido? The principal told us. I would be doing independent gym - exercising on myown time.

A nightmare, I thought, as I trudged to the YMCA to sign up fora membership. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I plunked onto a machinethat made my feet go up and down while I stared aimlessly at a blank screen. Onemeasly red dot adorned it after a minute. It was exercise at its worst. Thevolunteer, Blaine, my gym guardian angel, predicted that soon I would be burningcalories by the hundreds, coming for more than my allotted three times a week,enjoying myself. Uh, hunh, sweat beaded on my brow. Oh, yuck.

I went tothe gym yesterday, for an hour, for an hour the day before that, and the daybefore that. Now, I go almost every day for an hour, jogging on the fourteenthsetting of the Stairmaster. At last, an impressive number of red dots awaits me.I go every day, because exercise makes me feel good. I can hold a note in a songfor almost three measures. I run up flights of stairs instead of taking theelevator. Now, for me, exercise is a time to relax, to strengthen myself, tolisten to music and to read, without having to feel guilty about being slothful.Exercise is a miracle, which revealed bones hidden under my skin, muscles hiddenin my flab.

The jocks at the YMCA know my name. They ask me how mywork-out went. They are friendly; they are intelligent. They are respectful.There are no taunts about my ability. I can take all the time I want to take tochange my clothes.

Exercise has a purpose which I now understand. I feelthe happiest I feel all day when I pirouette home from my Stairmaster, treadmill,or rowing machine. Exercise is happiness, health, strength, relaxation. I loveexercise.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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