“It’s not a Set-Back, it’s a Stepping Stone to a Bigger Mountain”

Statistics reveal over half of the country is obese. Big surprise, right? Even with that said, many people don’t take strides to help themselves. Reasons range from understandable to down right stupid. Whether it be physical limitations or a bad attitude, most people know that they should do something to improve themselves. The fact is, most people take the opportunities around them for granted. Most of the time they don’t even realize it. What I want to share is an experience that reminded me of one of the reasons I chose my particular career choice.

My local gym is pretty basic. Located downtown, mixed in with restaurants, movie theaters, etc. As a frequent member, I know basically all the staff and most other members. This gives me a comfortable atmosphere to help others as well as do my own thing. Sure there are new people to join. Most are timid, even with the simple questions like, “hey are you using this?” and “can you spot me quick?” Eventually, people warm up to one another. Especially if they see each other around the same time everyday at the same place. There was one person who I met that took me by surprise, though.

One day I had the floor to myself. I was about an hour into routine when I heard what sounded like a pipe tapping the walls. Thinking nothing of it, I entered the next set of exercises. After throwing the weights down, I looked in the mirror and noticed the sound I heard turned out to be a blind man’s cane. Dressed in exercise attire and water bottle in hand, he started his regimen.

After I finished my last set, I snagged my sweatshirt and threw it in my gym bag. As I walked toward the door, the man asked if I was finished on the bench I was using. Surprised, considering there were five all together and he pointed at the exact one I was at (only one decline), I answered yes.

My curiosity got the better of me. After he finished his first set,  I walked over and shook the mans hand. I mentioned that I was a college student majoring in Kinesiology and explained how I wish I would meet more people with the motivation to push themselves to do something that might reach out of their comfort levels.

“I’m just the same as everyone else, man. I don’t let this thing (blindness) get in my way,” he responded back with a laugh.

“When I’m down here with people, I hear a lot of whispers about me. Nothing offensive, though. People are just shocked that there’s a blind guy in the weight room. But when they see this cane or these glasses, they see a set back in life. When I feel the cane and these glasses, it’s not a set-back, it’s a stepping stone to a bigger mountain.”

I was impressed with his attitude towards life. His way of thinking was precisely what I thought about the process of healthy living and fitness. While it is a physical part of life, it’s much more mental.

As the conversation continued, I learned that he walked to the gym everyday. Not a few blocks, but a mile or two. He had no one to drop him off and didn’t want to pay a taxi fare everyday.

“What’s the point of paying a taxi to drive me ten to fifteen minutes when I can get the blood flowing and enjoy the weather at the same time?

I had to give it to him, even in a small rinky-dink town, he had a point. He enjoyed the small things in life that many people (including myself) took for granted.

“I get bored if I take the same way so I chose different routes. But even when I walk different routes, I can always tell I’m getting close by the smell of the local gas station a few blocks down.”

As the clock began to race, I shook the man’s hand again and headed for the door. I asked the owner about him if he had any concern about his safety when he joined the gym.

“Not really, I’ve walked down to do maintenance and I’ve seen him exercising and using good form. He told me that he never goes heavy, just enough for him to get a contraction.”

This is a prime example of overcoming obstacles. So many people make excuses not to do something small, health related or not. All it takes is a little bit of effort to make a change. This is your first step, the second one is waiting after that.

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