Archive for April 2009

Fight for Your Mind

April 9, 2009

If you’re gonna live
then live it up
and if you’re gonna give
then give it up
if you’re gonna walk the earth
then walk it proud
and if you’re gonna say the word
you got to say it loud

if you’re gonna build a house
make it a home
if you’re gonna pull some weight
pull your own
if you’re gonna help
reach out your hand
if you’re getting up
then take a stand

if you’re gonna step
step on in
if you’re gonna finish
you got to begin
don’t you fear
what you don’t know
just let that be
your room to grow

you got to fight for your mind
while you got the time
you got to fight for your mind

Ben Harper

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gymnastics

April 7, 2009

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In light of retreat discussions and more significantly the recent uproar at MIT about Athletics cuts, it’s really been making me think a ton about how much gymnastics has really contributed, shaped, and created me as a person.  I will attempt, in this blog post, to do justice to just how much it has actually impacted me in the 13 years I have competed in the sport not because of the athletics cuts or because I am trying to sway anyone, but more because I think it really explains a lot about me as a person.  So, here goes my gymnastics saga.

My parents put me in gymnastics when I was 3 years old, mostly because I was a psycho little kid who liked to jump off of 6 ft platforms at the age of 18 months, and they wanted to run a little more energy out of me than the playground could really take.  After staying in classes for awhile, I started competing when I was 6 at the local YMCA.  We practiced somewhere around 6 hrs a week until I switched gyms and went to one club, and then finally ended up at Five Star where I stayed for the remainder of my gymnastics years, and we worked out around 20 hrs a week from when I was 11 onward.

To point out the obvious, I essentially lived at my gym all through middle and high school.  I spent more time with my coaches than with my parents on most days, and gymnastics has come to really define my life and me.  I think it’s really only since I’ve come to college that I’ve realized how much this is true.  Gymnastics is the reason that I eat the way I do, the reason I’ve always had to get bigger sized shirts because of my damn shoulder muscles, why I get super antsy if I don’t work out every day.  Not only that, I think it has actually really shaped a lot of my personality traits, which before I thought was just how I was, but I’ve realized that it probably isn’t.

Gymnastics taught me really what perseverance and hard work really mean.  At gym, the reason why you practice so many hours a week is because you literally do thousands of repetitions of the same skill over and over until your muscles have committed it to memory and can do it perfectly with relatively little thought.  Not only that, but what I have always loved about gymnastics is that there is an endless amount you can learn; there is always a new skill to learn, something you can do better, or some new thing to work on.  And I think that the way my coaches pushed me to not settle for just barely doing the requirements, or taking an easy road out has translated into me thinking that way in my everyday life.  I’ve learned how to push your own limits, mostly in a physical sense, but that really can be translated to a mental pushing of limits if thought about correctly.  We always had to condition until we literally couldn’t lift ourselves anymore, do bars even if your hand was bleeding, tumble even if you broke your toe, or push yourself through some large amount of pain to be able to compete or just do gymnastics.  And having someone force me to do things that I probably would not have done otherwise has shown me that yes, everyone has limits, but if you want it bad enough, you can push those limits quite far.

I could go on and on about the other rippling effects that gymnastics has had on my life, but I’m pretty sure you could surmise a lot of them by now.  Hopefully, you can understand why the prospect of not having gymnastics in my life all of a sudden is utterly terrifying to me, because it has all I’ve ever known.  I gave up a huge part of my social life, countless other sports and activities, and many relationships with friends and family for gymnastics in high school and to some extent college as well.  Sure, at some point I’m going to have to stop at some point anyway, especially at the rate my body is going.  But at least then, it will be on my terms, not on the economy’s or MIT’s.  My gym at home is still the first place I go as soon as I get home, even though I’ve also lost a lot on that front.  I can’t even imagine two more years here without gymnastics, but, hopefully, I won’t have to.

Really ridiculous calculation:  How many hours I have spent in gymnastics practice my entire life prior to college, not including high school gymnastics: 9075 hrs.