I spend a fair bit of time trying out new sports, fitness classes and various other forms of exercise, as well as pursuing my favourites. For this reason, you might assume I must be fairly good at these things by now, but really, I'm not.
And I'm not just being self-deprecating here - recently at netball I made a pass to a completely empty section of the court, in the wrong direction. In the last kettlebells class I tried, I swung the thing into my shin bone. I was overtaken when out for a jog last week by a man well into his sixties. At a swim class designed to improve my swimming form, I ended up sinking and gulping so much of the pool that they decided it might be best if I wore flippers.
Why am I owning up to all of this? Because it doesn't matter. I mean, the kettlebell hurt, and I've still got a pretty good bruise from it, but the possibility of accidentally doing some kind of Charlie Chaplin impression is no reason not to go ahead and do it anyway. We go through life feeling like we have to be good at everything - my high school was all about the over-achievers, and if there was something you didn't excel in, then you'd better avoid it and find something you could get an A in. For me, with my lack of hand-eye coordination, that was definitely P.E. and most sports.
The great thing about getting older has been coming to the realisation that you can do things just for the fun of them - yet it still seems to be something that holds some people back from trying something new. Please, don't let it. Never been to yoga before? Yes, you'll probably be a lot less flexible than other people in the class, you'll probably get a load of the poses wrong and the instructor might well come around and correct you. It might be the case on the second, third, fourth time you try it. But everyone single person in that class has been in that place before themselves - how else do you learn?
What's more, the great thing about starting out rubbish, is how grateful you'll be for any improvement - and you will get better at whatever activity you choose if you just have the balls to stick at it. Sure, that old dude overtook me when I was running, but a couple of years ago I couldn't even stick at a jog for more than 10 minutes - I've made my way up to 10k now, and that's something I thought I'd never be able to do.
Even if you stick at something - let's stay with the yoga example - you might never get your heels to touch the ground when trying to do downward dog, because that's just how your body's built. I'm not an athlete; I'm never going to be great at any kind of sport. But I will keep on enjoying it. Be it for the pumping soundtracks in a good spin class (ie. getting over-excited and pedalling the shit out of a Bieber song), the endorphins that come with a well-timed run on a sunny day, the lovely people you can meet or even just the nice shampoo you can find in some of the fancier gyms.
When you've got all that, who needs to actually be any good?