Handstand toe archery! Best fitness talent ever. And hey, my gym only says no GUNS allowed on the premises. I’m sure they’d be totally cool with this.
Everybody’s got a talent, right? I’m pretty sure that’s what we were all told the day they handed out our special snowflake awards, so we could put them on our shelves right next to the soccer trophies we got just for showing up. Not that I’m knocking my soccer trophy, mind you. I still have it in my box of childhood stuff because to me it screams tenacity. I never once made a single goal the entire season — for our team (although I did get one for our competition). In fact, I might have been the only one to graduate still not getting that we switched sides halfway through the game (hence the rogue goal). But I stuck it out! I earned every plastic particle of that thing through blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears. ANYHOW.
Whatever my talents grew up to be, team sports never were among them. In fact, none of my talents seemed to be particularly fitness-y. You may recall that slightly-better-than-average bendiness is my one and only innate athletic ability. And I’m okay with that. I’ve got gifts in other areas: I can raise one eyebrow at a time, I can do a perfect pin-curl and I can pick my nose with my tongue (that used to be what I’d demonstrate whenever my school teachers would ask the class to demonstrate something – you can see why I was so, uh, popular).
But the other day at the gym, I got to thinking about esoteric fitness talents that would be cool to have. Oh sure, some people are super fast or crazy strong or Olympians or whatever – I’m not talking to you. (You guys get talked about all the time anyhow.) I’m talking about the under-appreciated gym geniuses of our day:
1. The girl who can tell what weight a weight plate or dumbbell is just by looking at the size. Do you know what the difference is between a 25-lb plate and a 35-lb plate? Besides ten pounds? Yeah, me neither. If they’re next to each other (AS THEY SHOULD BE) then obviously I can guess and pick up the bigger one. But if it’s just lying on the floor? Might as well be a manhole cover for all I know. I’ve been lifting weights for over a decade and I still have to turn it around and look at the number to be sure.
2. The guy who can math during a workout. True story: the other day I asked for a kettlebell at the gym and they were old school, measured in poods. (Back in the olden days when women were women and men were Russians, they decreed that a standard kettlebell should weigh 1 pood, or 36.11 pounds/16.38kgs.) Now, I know this but when the trainer asked me what ‘bell I wanted, my brain froze and I couldn’t for the life of me half a pood. So I doubled it – little known fact: this is Putin’s plan to take over America, one herniated disc at a time. I also once famously screwed up a swimming workout by miscalculating the number of laps needed to make a mile. My brain just can’t workout and compute at the same time! No sweat? I can fake an integral with the best of them. But the second my heart starts pumping I can’t even figure out how fast it’s going if the instructor only times us for 10 seconds (meaning I have to multiply my answer by 6).
3. The girl who can just feel an 8-count. Okay, I do kind of have this gift. I can hear rhythm and I’ve done enough years of various aerobics classes to be able to anticipate when we’re going to change moves. But being able to stay on beat is a serious gift and one that’s sorely underrated in our current gym culture. One or two spastic folks, no biggie. A whole roomful of people who can’t find the top of the phrase? It’s like a flashmob of preschoolers doing What Does the Fox Say. (Which literally happened the other night at my house. I love being a mom.)
4. The guy who can eat protein powder straight. I’ve often thought my life would be much simpler if I didn’t have a gag reflex. Just watching someone pour protein powder straight into his mouth and swallow it dry makes me retch. And yet it’s the epitome of efficiency! I love efficiency as much as I love beet salad. (Which is a lot Dwight Schrute.) Although on second thought, I could pour the powder in my mouth, puff up my cheeks and then slap them hard to make “dragon breath” as I spit it all out. I should totally do that. It’s not good for anything but a mess but it’s so, so funny.
5. The girl who knows the names of all the weird body parts. Oh sure, you nailed Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in preschool but these days you practically need an anatomy class as a prerequisite for your Guts and Butts class. You know your triceps, deltoids and glutes? Amateur. All the cool kids know the weird stuff. Which is why I spent half my fitness career not knowing where exactly my IT band was but nodding intelligently when every trainer ever would tell me the importance of stretching it. Other body parts I’ve had to learn for fitness: SI joints (your lower back), sciatic nerve (up the back of your leg), hip flexors (the front of your hip) and freakish bony protuberance (on my ankle, basically making it look like I have two on each foot).
6. The guy who knows all the real yoga names. I know exactly one: Savasana. And conveniently that’s the pose where you’re just lying there pretending to be dead. Everything else I still have to call by its very literal and sometimes overly illustrative English name like Down dog, Camel pose (which can so easily become camel toe pose), Elephant trunk pose and Happy baby pose. Me: I love Half lord of the fishes! Him: Oh, Ardha Matsyendrasana? Me: Bless you.
6. The girl who can fix the paper towel machine. I’ve never yet met a paper towel dispenser in a gym that didn’t want a 3-month vacation along with PTO and sick leave. But there’s always that person who can give it one good smack and make it start spewing brown perforated paper. If they posses the holy trifecta of paper towels, getting soap out of an empty dispenser and always finding the stall with toilet paper then make them your best friend immediately.
7. The guy who carries a whole Walgreens in his bag. I consider my gym bag pretty well stocked but I’ll never forget the day I got a blister and my friend busted out moleskin, a band-aid, antibiotic cream and a fresh pair of socks for me. He even offered me a cold beverage while he re-laced my shoes with his fancy laces so that I wouldn’t get a blister again. His gym bag was like a magician’s hat. Oh and there was the friend who offered me boob tape in the locker room. Or the friend who whipped out Bodyglide during bootcamp. I’ve stopped asking why someone is carrying something random, like 3 C batteries, in their bag and instead just appreciate their foresight. (We used the batteries to fix the remote to the gym TV so we could hijack it and watch “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” so we could yell “How do you not know you’re pregnant?!” at each other on the treadmills.)
8. The girl who remembers everyone’s names. Everyone knows her – the girl who greets all the personal trainers by name as she walks in and then waves and calls out each person’s name as she walks down the row of treadmills before high-fiving and naming everyone on the weight floor? I so, so, so wish I had this talent! For some reason I’m great with coming up with entertaining nicknames for people but remembering their real name? Erm, what up dude?
9. This lady. It isn’t specifically a fitness talent but she has such a great perspective on bodies and how hers, cerebral palsy and all, is particularly wonderful. Also, I think gracious humor is one of the best gifts someone can have. And make no mistake, she’s got it! I laughed, I cried, I giggled, I made the oh-no-she-didn’t! face. I even clapped for her. This TED talk is totally worth 14 minutes of your day! (Thanks to Turbo Jennie for sending it to me!)
Out yourselves! Do you have any of the above fitness talents? Or do you have one to add to my list? What’s the weirdest thing in your gym bag right now??