“Go Forth and Flex”: The Fitness Commencement Speech
Dear Class of Workouts,
As you embark on the rest of your life, it’s time to look back and value all that you’ve learned up to this point, as well as look forward to the future. Besides, no one knows what the future in fitness brings. Who saw CrossFit coming? Or Soul Cycle? Or (insert your brand of dancing for fitness here)? Yoga? Did we really think we’d ever have this many yoga studios?
So, it’s all wide open for you, and anybody who says they can predict the fitness future is either delusional or lying. It could be that in the future we regress to smashing stones with our bare hands as a means of fitness, or we could advance to just electrifying ourselves. The world is wide open for you and your classmates! But I’d like to give you a few pieces of advice and lessons learned that you can carry forward in your pursuit of health and the continual quest to undo what delicious, evil cookies do to your body:
1.) Sign up for a triathlon once, and finish it. Until you’ve stood knee-deep in a freezing lake with a Sharpie number on your delt, waiting for some dude to blow the airhorn so you can underwater wrestle 60 doctors and lawyers, you really haven’t faced your fears. (You’ll live.) And then you get to chase them on the bike and the run. It’s a good time that most of the population will just never experience.
2.) Lift weights. You’ll look great, but primarily we’re all concerned about your ability to swing your overstuffed oversized carry-on roller bag into the overhead compartment, and not hold up the entire line on the aircraft. Everybody secretly hates the person who can’t lift their own bag. (*The elderly, small children, and disabled persons excepted.)
3.) Put away your gear. Always. But don’t put it away while the rest of your class is still working. (Read “Old School Rule: Stay and Cheer.”)
4.) Swim if you know how. Learn if you don’t. 71% percent of the world is covered by water. Don’t be a land rat.
5.) Use less chalk. This life is not measured by the size of your house, the model of your car, or the amount of chalk on your hands.
6.) Try yoga. Or at least try yoga pants. They’re amazing. And don’t listen to anyone who says they’re not the most wonderful thing since bourbon, babies, and barbells.
7.) Accept certain inalienable truths. You will get stronger if you do the work. You will have to pee before every workout with double-unders. You will always hate burpees, and they will always be good for you.
8.) Play a few sports, and exercise past the age of 18. Don’t be the guy who played high school football and talks about it for the rest of his life.
9.) Live in CrossFit World, but leave before it makes you too hard. Live in Yoga World, but leave before it makes you too soft.
10.) Get to know your gym mates. You get hot and sweaty with them more than you get hot and sweaty with your spouse. You should at least know their names.
11.) Understand that you won’t always be in the same shape for all of your life. (Well, maybe you, Froning, but I’m talking to the others.) Work, babies, illness, depression: different things will sap your energy at times. Roll with the times. Just make sure you roll back into exercise as soon as you can. It’s that important to your physical and mental health.
12.) Don’t waste your time on Whiteboard Angst. It’s not worth anything. Someone will finish ahead of you, someone will finish behind you. This pattern will repeat itself through all of life.
13.) Stop looking down on bowling. Just because you don’t break a sweat, doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun. Besides, what other sport allows you to eat nachos while doing it? Sure, softball encourages beer, as does golf (thanks for the drink holders in the carts, golf courses!), but neither can be played with a full plate of nachos. That’s something to consider.
14.) Remember that it’s okay not to do winter sports. Don’t want to ski or snowboard or snowshoe? That’s okay! The Southern states are full of people who don’t care for those sports either. Besides, the quicker you get off the mountain, the happier the other skiers and snowboarders will be. (Shorter lift lines!)
15.) There are sports you’re not required to try. Cricket, tennis, and platform diving are among them. You can just say no. (There might be some international rule on lesbians having to try softball. You might want to check with the Home Office on that one. Regulations are changing rapidly.)
16.) Some sports have zero room for error. You, Class of 2016, will learn these quickly. Skydiving is one. Swimming with sharks is another. Have your friends report back if you find one.
Now, put down the cookies, and turn off the Netflix. We’ve got work to do, people! Go forth and flex!