Sweat dripped into my clothes as I gasped for air. When my mom first told teenage me we were going to try out a Saturday fencing program, I imagined the thrill of a fight, beating my opponent with a blade, glory beaming from my face—not a lung-burning workout.
Olympians ran the program, and we were getting the Olympian treatment. “DON’T TOUCH THE FLOOR! DON’T TOUCH THE FLOOR! KEEP GOING! DON’T STOP MOVING!” our coach barked.
My nerves were on fire, and I couldn’t think much except to somehow endure the current round of push-ups. “NOW WE’RE DOING PLANKS FOR ONE MINUTE,” roared our coach as he crouched into plank position. “AND EVERY TIME SOMEONE DROPS, WE START OVER. PUSH THROUGH IT. READY. GO!”
After enduring several restarts, we finally got through it—all 150 middle schoolers and teenagers. “NOW FOR MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS!” Collective moans filled the sweaty air. I didn’t know if I could endure much more.