“What is your Sport?” That was the question posed to me by Pavel Tsatsouline to me, as he stepped into the elevator I was the lone passenger of at my RKC in San Diego years ago. At the time, I didn’t really know how to answer him, as I wasn’t a former State or National Champion in weightlifting or gymnastics, I didn’t have a background in Special Forces or SWAT, I wasn’t a black belt in any martial arts, heck – I didn’t even participate in the United States’ “Big Three” high school sports of Football, Baseball, or Basketball growing up. My perception at the time was that the majority of the RKC participants fell into one of these categories, and then there was me, this outlier.
So, I meekly responded with, “I’m a mountain biker,” just before the elevator hit the ground floor. He had this quizzical look on his face, as our national cultures of Sport collided, and then he went on his way, and I on mine. In the moments that followed, I found myself coming up with a million better answers that I could have given him. I mean it was HIM, Pavel in the flesh, the author of “Enter the Kettlebell” and the “Russian Kettlebell Challenge.” I had his sole attention, and all I could come up with was “mountain biker?” At the time, I felt like a fool!
I hadn’t really reflected on this interaction since, until I saw a FB post by a fellow kettlebell enthusiast. She was reflecting on a question posed to her: “What sport do you do for fun?” Her answer: “Workout.” “What sport do you do outside for fun?” Her answer: “Workout outside.”
At first, I thought it was funny, but then I thought beyond the simplistic humor. She’s right, there are thousands of people who work out simply because the training itself is the end goal. They aren’t chasing athletic sports performance, using their workouts to prepare or cross-train. They may not like group competition, or even the outdoors. I have definitely gone through spurts where the only physical activity I had were my daily workouts, only done for the purpose of chasing soreness and sweat. While some people may say those are like a hamster on a wheel, pointless, but for others it is all they need.
Personally, I love the outdoors, and I love the freedom to hike, run, or ride for hours on end, not knowing where the route will take me until I am home. I swam competitively in college, for the purpose of getting priority registration. That was the original motivation. I didn’t love the workouts, or even the competition, honestly. I did love the friendships I gained along the way, and I’m still friends with some to this day. Part of what I didn’t care for was the structure – the calendar, the start and end of a season. I see so many coworkers who played collegiate team sports, and have never really participated in anything physical ever since, and their physical health has deteriorated as a result.
When I teach my high school students, one thing I try to emphasize is the importance of developing lifetime fitness, through any medium. I don’t want them to stop being physically active just because they get older and fall into the daily predictability we all fight against.
For some people the FitRanX® tests are a perfect way to be a recreational workout enthusiast. The level tests allow them to measure their own progress against themselves, and they don’t need to “compete” against another person to “win.”
So, I’ll ask you, “What is your Sport?”
Tim Peterson, Chief FitRanX® Instructor