In Brazil, the weather is near perfect for outdoor activity year round. So as a youngster growing up there, I spent a lot of time on the playground. But sadly, the playground was also my nemesis.
Remember that kid on the playground who was always physically capable of doing monkey bars, handstands and cart wheels? I was NOT that kid!
In fact I didn’t even try. Instead, I just ran around the park playing with the other kids who were like me—the ones who didn’t do all of the cool stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I always loved sports, but I had no balance. No ability. No mobility.
I did do ballet for about 6 years, which improved my posture, and helped me gain a lot of flexibility. But I still didn’t think of myself as an athlete.
When I moved to the United States 14 years ago, I had to quit ballet, and throughout middle school and high school, I never gravitated towards any sort of physical activity.
When I finally started “visiting” the gym just when I was about to graduate from high school, I remember not even knowing what to do. It drove me crazy. The answer -- I quickly joined all sorts of classes: Zumba, Body Pump, 30 Minute Abs, kickboxing and more.
While being active was great, I hated sweat. At the gym, I made a conscious effort to steer clear of sweaty people. Sweat was disgusting.
Enter Muay Thai, a combat sport from the Muay martial arts of Thailand. For a long time, I had been fascinated by Muay Thai. Back in Brazil, I had two friends who did it and we always talked about it. I invited a few people to join with me, but like me, they were all extremely afraid of breaking their nose. Tired of hearing “no,” I decided to say “yes” for myself, and I started taking Muay Thai classes on my own about 2 years ago. Basically, fascination got the best of me, and I realized that no one else could do it for me. This was something I had to do myself.
When I entered the gym for my first Muay Thai class, I was the only girl in the gym. On top of that, the place was underground, dark, smelled like sweat everywhere, and I was terrified of getting hurt. I was completely out of my comfort zone.
I got home drenched in sweat.
But surprisingly enough, it didn’t bother me. It was then that I started to find the satisfaction you get after a great workout. The satisfaction of pushing yourself physically, of getting out of your comfort zone, of that disgusting thing called sweat.
I began to realize there was so much more that I could do. I gave up on living a sedentary life, and when I look back now, I don’t know how I did it for so long—especially when I was younger. I now try every single physical activity I possibly can, like running (which I never enjoyed), hiking, skateboarding, kayaking, and skydiving… why not?
And then there is CrossFit. I joined crossfit 7 months ago, and it is the hardest, most intense, most amazing sport that I have ever done. So different than what I was doing before and yet it brings me the same joy. Muay Thai mostly combined the use of fists, elbows, knees, shins. With CrossFit, you move and work your whole body. I was a bit intimidated on my first class because I knew it would be different and it would be hard. And it was. There were so many things I couldn’t do, like double unders, toes-to-bar, handstands, not to mention all of the weightlifting involved. But I kept going back, and those things I couldn’t do before… I can do them now.
There is no better feeling than going go the gym, rolling your eyes when you see how hard the WOD (workout of the day) is going to be—but still doing it.
I do have one exercise at CrossFit that is a favorite, and here is the reason why: Remember when I mentioned that I was that kid who couldn’t do a handstand? That was so yesterday. Today I totally can!
My favorite workouts are always the one where I get to be upside down. Just the other day, we did a WOD of “Tabata” handstand holds, which was 20 seconds hold and 10 seconds rest for 8 sets. These tabatas burn your arms and shoulders. It hurts, and it feels great.
Today, I’m in the gym almost every night, excited for my next WOD. I continue to do Muay Thai, which I love, and I also do hot yoga (talk about sweating!) and I can’t get enough. Not to mention that I now skateboard, and I’m not afraid of anything.
To me, working out, being active and working up a good sweat is truly rewarding. It’s motivational. It’s a stress relief. I can’t lie: Sweating still gross, but it’s a good kind of gross.
I love knowing all the good stuff that is being done to your body while you work out and sweat. To feel all that fat crying out of your body just feels awesome. After all, you really can’t fake sweat!