“I like sports, but sports doesn’t like me,” has been my expression since I was young. I didn’t really like ball games or attending P.E. classes. I never learned how to ride a bike. I knew how to swim but got scared of depths beyond 5 feet. I studied Karate and ended up with an orange belt but never continued. I was not cut out for sports, that’s what I thought.
Life went on—I graduated from college, enjoyed a good corporate career, and found myself in a situation people dread: I gained weight. Like most starters, I was hitting the gym and jogging around Ayala Triangle. I remembered how a 30 minute run felt like a spawn of death. Nevertheless, I made it a mental and psychological challenge: I will finish this distance. I will do one more workout set. I will go to the gym today even when I don’t feel like it.
I joined my first race in 2010 when fun runs were all the rage. I joined a 3k race and just walked the entire distance. I challenged myself to another race the following month; this time a 5k run, and made sure I trained for it. I finished 7th overall. I began to feel that running was probably for me. Soon, I joined 10k races and saw myself on the podium a couple of times. Half marathons and full marathons soon followed both here and abroad. Finally—I had a sport!
All these happened while I was keeping my corporate managerial role and taking up my MBA. I’ve been blessed me with these talents, which I just recently discovered was hidden in me—and I wanted to take it to another level.
I challenged myself even more by taking sports and fitness seriously. I attended fitness and sports seminars and soon became a certified Personal Trainer with a part-time job after my day job as a group class instructor. To not have graduated with a Physical Education or Sports Science degree, and be in a male-dominated industry was another challenge which I gladly accepted. However, one day it sunk—I was very happy with what I was doing but I also couldn’t give up my corporate job. Moreover, I realized I wanted people to see how they can change their bodies without feeling “obliged” because they paid for the class.
I made a big decision back in December 2015: I gave up my part-time job and started training people for free. It became my advocacy to give back to the community which has shaped me for several years.
While keeping a day job, I became a freelance running coach and a trainer for the fitness group my officemates started. It was difficult at first because I spent on my own training gear and used my time and energy while knowing I would not earn a single cent. Over time, I felt the sheer joy from seeing people improve on their performance and being more motivated to live healthier lives. It was a feeling no money can buy.
The best feedback I received was on how fitness and sports got people closer to God—whether it’s because of an injury that did not stop them from competing or from finishing a race distance, which they thought was impossible. It’s amazing how I indirectly influenced them spiritually through sports and fitness.
My friends would also comment on my Facebook and Instagram posts that they get inspired by what I do. I want to continue to encourage them to get out of their seats and start moving, to discover their hidden skills and talents.
This year I challenged myself further. I assisted in organizing a race back in August and am currently overseeing a small running group from the school where I graduated from. I have added track and field, parkour, pole dancing and yoga to my regular activities this year. I am also conquering my fear of swimming beyond 5 feet (!) by doing this on a weekly basis.
I have a lot of other fitness activities on my list which I want to try—but my goal is still, to learn how to ride a bike!
Never say you are too old to try something new. I ran my first 5k when I was 24 years old.
At 31 years of age I can fully say “I like sports and sports likes me back.”