It took me until I was in my 50s, but I finally get to be a cheerleader.

I was this fat, sad, lonely outcast kid in my Catholic grade school who so wanted to be liked and make friends.  In the late 70s, cheerleaders were the cool popular girls. I so wanted to be one of them.   Tryouts were coming and I put together a little weird cheer, rah.  Three female teachers were the judges to choose the team.  This is the first thing in life I can remember doing alone with people judging me.  Eight girls were trying out, six were going to make the cheer squad. Six girls were chosen and were jumping up and down all happy celebrating with their moms.  My mom wasn’t there to watch me, she was working.  I of course didn’t make the cheer squad.  

I rode my bike home to my single wide mobile home crying.  I was crying so much I ran into a parked truck because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see. I got home a loser and bruised with a dented bike.

The next day at school the only other girl not to make the cheer team was now on the team and celebrating with the squad.  It seemed that the wonderful female teachers had added up the scores wrong and instead of leaving the team as was announced, they added the 7th girl calling her at home that evening making me the only girl who tried out for the cheer team and didn’t make it.  Consequently, I have hated cheerleaders my entire life, I mean why should girls dress up in sexy clothes and jump around cheering for what men do?? Sexism at its best.

As a personal trainer, I encourage people to go a little farther, get a little better every day.  I have helped 100s of people lose weight, get fit, run their first 5ks and ½ marathons, walk straighter, eat better, etc. My system is don’t let them fail, just push them to 20% past where they want to quit.  I work one on one with clients all day doing this, and love it.  Love watching people move and use their bodies more than they have ever dreamed they could.

This is Mike, he ran his first 10k last weekend.  I picked this race for his first race because I could run my ½ marathon, finish before him and be there to watch him finish his 10k.  I ran a strong ½ and was happy but had a nervous look on my face looking at the clock and doing the math in my head. 

One of the timing crew said, “Vanessa, you have that look.”

“What look is that?”

“That oh fuck, did I do everything right to bring my client in on time look, you always look so nervous waiting for your clients,” he laughed. 

“Yeah I always hope I didn’t kill them, got to pay the mortgage,” I laughed.

A couple waiting at the finish line asked if I was a coach.  “Yes I am a personal trainer, I have a guy doing his first 10k today and his first ½ at the end of the month, he should be coming in anytime.”

“Are you always this nervous for all your clients? Must be nice to have someone care so much, you make a great cheerleader,” she replied smiling at me sweetly. 

And here came Mike, racing to the finish line, 28 secs off my goal pace, smiling and so happy.  I was screaming for him, much more excited for him then I have ever been for myself in all the races I have done.  The people around me at the finish line congratulated me.  I smiled.  

Ok I admit it, being a cheerleader isn’t so bad….