I tend to stay away from activities that have a higher-than-normal risk of injury. I don’t know what it’s like to be fearless. Even though there’s always a possibility of getting hurt when you’re doing a fitness-related activity — just think about kickboxing, spinning, training for and entering marathons and triathlons — at least in those situations you can usually see the injuries approaching and try to head them off. If you over-train, for instance, your body is bound to protest in some way.
But there are other activities (sometimes referred to as “extreme sports”) where you have less control over the outcome. Look at skiing. Whenever I think of skiing, I picture twisted limbs. It’s not that I’d be opposed to trying skiing, but my attempts would never reach the competitive level where people catapult themselves off ramps and do backflips in the air or whatever. Uh, no. If I were to ever ski off a ramp, I’d flail around a little and finish with a big splat on the ground. And then you’d see my broken, twisted limbs arranged artfully against the snow.
I’ve rollerskated in the past, but does that mean I’d ever join a roller derby team? I have to admit it looks kind of fun — you can dress up in a fun costume, and adopt a bad-ass moniker. Women who participate in roller derby seem so confident, and tough, and self-assured. But does that mean I’d ever want to spin wildly around an oval track, dodging a mass of bodies, when there’s a possibility of flipping head-first over a barrier like I’ve seen on TV? Once again…no.
Mountain biking down a steep, rocky trail is another sport that’s hard to imagine doing. If we’re talking about biking along a flat surface, or a nice, tame trail — that’s great. I would do that. But careening down a hill where you could hit a stray rock, skid, and fly right over the handlebars? Eek.
I know I’m probably exaggerating the risks a little, and I’m sure there wouldn’t be as many participants in these sports if there were a lot of people out there getting hurt. As I said with the roller derby example, I really admire these women who have the fearlessness to put themselves in these situations, not knowing what’s going to happen. And even if it isn’t exactly fearlessness on their part — if the activity scares them but they have enough perseverance and adrenaline to make it through — there must be something about their personality that keeps them going back for more, time after time. Is it simply a love for what they do?
But it’s not just about having a love for something — normal, everyday people go out and try new things, too. For instance, I’d never thought about going rock-climbing until my weak-armed roommate (this is how she describes herself) went to a rock-climbing gym for the first time, and enjoyed it. When you’re able to see firsthand how people with various fitness levels go out and try things they’ve never done before, even if they’re not in top shape, it can really inspire you to try something new yourself.
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