Missed opportunities or never too late?

I have never been an athlete. The closest I ever got to playing a competitive sport was tennis lessons in middle school. I wasn’t very good.

But three years ago, I caught the fitness bug (If you regularly read my blog, you know I’ve written plenty about that), thanks to TigerX classes at MizzouRec. One of my friends persuaded me to try out a pilates class with her freshmen year, and I was hooked. As I got the hang of it, I started thinking about the girls who taught the classes and, even though I wasn’t sure I was good enough, I thought I’d give it a try.

Fall of my sophomore year I enrolled in the TigerX training course, and it opened my eyes to many other fitness classes that I didn’t even know I loved. That winter, I was hired and started teaching sculpting and pilates. Over the five semesters since, I’ve taught variations on those and added on some cardio and yoga.

This fall, the first time I was recognized as a “senior instructor,” I looked around the room and wondered how and when that happened. Suddenly, my “pledge class,” as we jokingly call ourselves, were the leaders in the job. As I sat in auditions and judged potential instructors this year, I felt incredibly old and couldn’t help but noticing how I’d gone from doubting my own abilities to being one of the most difficult instructors to impress (sorry, newbies).

I taught my last regular semester TigerX class this week (I’ll teach some in the summer, but still). I didn’t even realize it was the last one until I was halfway through it. It was just another of the many “lasts” with which I am so not okay.

Over the past three years, TigerX has been a huge part of my Mizzou experience. When people ask me how I like being an instructor, the obvious answer is: “I get paid to work out. What’s not to love?” Which is so true. It keeps me motivated and creative in my workouts, not to mention skipping isn’t an option. And I make some money, which is great. Duh.

But TigerX is so much more than that. It’s become a part of my identity on this campus. My pledge class and I have grown up together in the job, and I have met some wonderful people through the program — and that’s where the title of this post comes in.

The group of instructors are wonderful in a lot of ways. For one, there is amazing diversity of backgrounds, majors, sports/dance experience, body types and future aspirations. I love that some are athletes, some are dancers and some (raising my hand here!) are neither. I love that we have future journalists, engineers, doctors, nurses, accountants and teachers. I love that we aren’t all stick-thin or body builders, and we don’t live on protein shakes. When cookies appear in the office, they barely last a day.

Two, they are all awesome at what they do. These girls are talented beyond belief and have an amazing enthusiasm that never lessens (it comes with the territory, but it’s tough!). I am incredibly proud to have been a part of the TigerX program for the past three years, and I really hope it’s something I can continue to have in my life by joining and teaching at a gym in the future.

Three, the TigerX instructors are wonderful people. Last night was our end-of-year Rec banquet, for which I was incredibly excited. And it was a great time. But it made me sad and incredibly regretful — because I love these girls. You’d be surprised how close you can get with someone when you teach together once or twice a week. Five to 10 minutes spent setting up equipment and chatting about the day actually goes a long way in forming a friendship. When your co-instructor is the first person you talk to in the morning, she’s a very important part of your day, and you chat about a lot of what’s going on and important in your life.

But most of these girls I don’t see outside of TigerX. We don’t have mutual friends besides other instructors, most of us are in different majors and we don’t have classes together. We’re involved in different things and have other jobs outside TigerX. So last night was one of the few times we’ve actually hung out — and that made it much more than bittersweet.

It made me feel like an idiot. Because I love these girls. They are so fun and so sweet and so passionate about what they do. In another set of circumstances, I have no doubt that some of them could’ve been some of my very best friends. Why and how did we never make the transition to being friends outside of the studio?

So now we have a week left before people start to leave, and some of us will be here this summer, and we’ve resolved to hang out some more before the end really hits. But is it too late? I have to tell myself no. I have to tell myself we can have a blast this week, and then we can keep in touch and continue building on these friendships that we were just too slow to recognize until it was almost too late.

Key word: almost.

Peace, love, TigerX — forever

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