My Improvement

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I have made a huge change in my life recently that I hope to only improve on as I grow older. I am sixteen years old right now, and I am regularly doing Olympic wight lifting at my school. I have been weak and small all my life and I got tired of it. This is my story, and I write this to anyone else who have ever felt like I did when I was a kid.
When I was six years old, my family was living in New Jersey, and my mom signed me up for a Tae Kwon Do class, a martial art similar to Karate. We moved back to Charlotte, North Carolina, and I continued to go to Tae Kwon Do. Meanwhile, I went to my school’s P.E. class, and god, I hated it. I was a little fat, so everything was hard for me. Running was hard for me, so was jumping and climbing. But there was nothing I feared more than the mile. The mile was my nightmare; I was one of the slowest in my entire grade. I always had to walk every once in a while, but even as I walked, it felt like I was burning up from the inside. This indescribable feeling of “yellow” would well up in my throat, not mucus, not vomit. But even after I finished those four, grueling laps, it still felt like I was about to throw up. It was pure pain.
I finished Tae Kwon Do by receiving the “black belt” when I was 10, but I assure you, I could never defend myself in the Korean style of fighting, even now. During all of this, my dad always brought me to play outside with him. We usually played soccer or threw a football around, which I thought that was fun, but I never thought about joining a soccer or football team.
Then, in sixth grade, I had a P.E. coach, let’s call him Paul, who changed my life. We did a lot of stuff in his P.E. class, but I can only remember squats and wrestling. Our class went into the “dungeon”, a padded room where coach showed us a few wrestling moves, such as throws and shoots. I really liked it. And so in seventh grade, I signed up for the Middle School Wrestling team.
Oh god, why did I do that? Toughest three months of life. We would run, and fight, and crawl, and fight until the tears were literally being squeezed out of me. We had about seven matches, within each match we all wrestled about twice. Unfortunately, I lost all my matches. I just got pinned quickly because all my opponents were stronger than me.
Needless to say, this discouraged me from joining the team again the next year, so I instead went for swimming, which I had been practicing at a local pool for a couple of years by then. I swam much better than I wrestled, I think I only came in dead last once. But I never won either.
Eight grade’s P.E. class was different from the ones before it in that it incorporated weight lifting. I now realize a bunch of middle school boys weight lifting is a hilarious sight, be either way, I sucked at it even for that level. I could only squat 65 pounds, bench 65, and even that drained me quickly. The barbell hurt my hands when I held it and the back of my neck when I squatted. I hated it then.
At the end of eight grade, we picked our classes for freshman year. I chose the most advanced math and physics class, as usual, but we had a choice for our P.E. class this time. One semester was going to be a health class, while the other semester could be “Lifetime Wellness” or “Athletic Intensity”. My parents convinced me to take Intensity, even though I was scared to death. The class turned out to be an INTENSE combination of Olympic weight lifting and weight based-conditioning taught by Coach Paul. It was just as hard as wrestling was, but after the first semester I got through it, amazingly, and continued swimming. I took the class again second semester of sophomore year. And after that, it happened.
I looked at myself in the mirror, and for the first time, I was happy with what I saw. My chest was big, I had abs, biceps. I got addicted to weight lifting. I don’t know of any other good addiction that makes you stronger and faster. I still only weigh 135 pounds, but I can now bench press my weight, clean and jerk 105, dead lift 185, and I can work with a 35 pound kettle bell.
I ran a mile and a half every day this summer to stay fit until I had Athletic Intensity again first semester of junior year, which is where I end my story. I have never felt better in my life and I don’t intend to ever stop working out for a long time. My point is, if you have ever felt bad about how you look or feel, like I did when I was younger, I suggest going to your school’s or a private gym. Talk to a weight lifting coach and see what’s best for you. You may start out small, like me, but if you persevere, and keep on going until you know you can’t stop anymore, you can transform yourself, just like I did.





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