How Gymnastics Saved My Life

Blogtember Day 6: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn. 

Not the most attractive picture, but here I am, age 15, at practice.

The moment that turned my life around happened years before I realized how much it changed my life. I've come to learn that's how it frequently happens. There's a small decision or series of small decisions that seem so far attenuated from their ultimate effects, but everything traces back to that moment.

Since I can remember, I was always in sport. I danced (tap, jazz, ballet and even river dance) from the age of 3 until I was about 8. I don't recall most of that but pictures of me in 4th position or leaping across the frame plaster the pages of family scrapbooks, reminding me that it indeed happened. It was my continuous flipping off the couch, much to my mother's dismay, that led to my father enrolling me in gymnastics classes when I was 7. What began as an outlet for my dangerous house-tumbling ended up the thing that kept my world from tumbling down. 

By the time I was 14, the gym had become my safe haven. Time spent at the gym meant less time in a home that was "unsatisfying" (that sounds like a very "woe is me" statement, laced with teen angst, but I really was going through quite a bit at that age). I made the competitive team and was training 4-6 days per week. When I was there, I didn't have time to focus on anything else except not falling off the balance beam or catching the high bar. I lived in a leo and I loved it. I attended school from 9 to 3, went to the gym from 4 until about 9, and spent all day Saturdays, training and teaching classes. In the summertime, I attended camp and became a counselor when I was old enough. My coaches pushed me, my friends and teammates supported me - that place raised me. No doubt, that place saved me.

Without the gym, I'm not sure I'd be the person I am today; I'm not sure I'd be here at all. Instead of dwelling on the then-current conditions of my life, I dragged by sore butt into the gym day in and day out, and it was the happiest place on earth. Everyone at the gym loved me so much, and it more than made up for the love I lacked for myself. Being there convinced me that everything was going to be okay. And you know what? It was.