2011-09-30 / Columnists

Rockaway Walks Fitness Column

Reflection: Attitudes, Beliefs And Staying Physically Active
Commentary By Steven McCartney, IPO, HSW, MS

Thank you Dr. Prewitt (at CUNY) for inspiring me and everyone who sponsored and participated in “Rockaway Walks”; I will start with my background as an adolescent, looking at my childhood and the activities and family life that helped shape my attitudes and beliefs of who I am and how I appreciate sports and staying physically active.

In my early years and development my parents were very active individuals with their family. I am one of three siblings; we were born approximately 5 years apart from each other. As a child I was exposed to many opportunities in which I was able to develop mentally, physically and socially. Now at the age of 50 I still remember owning a bobsled, set of skis, ice skates (today I roller blade). In the summers I spent many hours in the YMCA camp and the things I remember most are swimming (diving), playing pool, playing in ping pong competitions and getting on the trampoline (loved it). The YMCA was best known for training gymnastics and I loved the gym apparatus. The time I spent at the YMCA and playing ice hockey were activities in which I participated, independent from my siblings. I also enjoyed just going outside to play street football, basketball and stickball in the neighborhood. Actually when I look back, my parents, who are married more than 57 years, provided me access to many experiences that allowed me to explore my interests to the fullest.

The activity that made a lasting impression was competing with my older brother.

When I was not at camp I got my brother to join a tennis program (NYC Parks Department) and for five summers we would get on our bikes and ride four miles uphill to Inwood Park in NYC. In the tennis program we would be assigned to compete by age categories. Up until this time in my life I never won any awards for any athletic activities. However, my older brother (by 5 years) had trophies in swimming and fencing, just to name two. I was an eager beaver (persistent) but during the last summer that we attended the tennis program, I received my first trophy for most improved player. I realized that I had a passion (intrinsic) for the sport and my passion showed in my performance. I wanted to learn to get as good as my brother (smile). I also learned that if you put the effort into an activity you will be rewarded (extrinsic). That fall I was entering high school.

All the summer’s bike riding helped me develop my endurance and so I joined my high school track team in my first year. I like to describe my first meet. I ran the 50-yard dash and the one-mile run. My experience during my first competition was life-changing. The event took place at the Armory Track and Field Center in Manhattan back when the track was on a wooden floor. During the one-mile run the gun went off and after the first 40 yards I got tripped and fell flat. It’s bad enough to have been nervous in my first competition, but to fall with guests in the audience (Ahhh). I bounced up to my feet and continued the race.

In the last 100 yards I showed my burst. Yes, I was last, mad and humiliated. But I never forgot my coach’s words, “You ran a good race.” He was referring to my pace and good lap time and my finish.

The lesson learned with my tennis experience is, enjoy putting effort in all that you do and focus on skills to improve and you will see results; the rewards will follow. Also, my brother gives me credit for introducing him to the game of tennis. Second, what I learned from my track experience is how to pull myself together when faced with adversities and to develop intrinsic values (follow my dreams) and overcome obstacles, help others and most of all, I do not need to compete to enjoy staying physically active. Playing a good game is as good as winning a good game.

Presently, I am a New York State certified physical education teacher, cofounder of “Rockaway Walks,” I conduct research (Synchronize Walking) at York College and am author of the book, “Stay Fit Portfolio.” My philosophy is to promote the need for life-long learning and transferable skills in health and fitness. For questions or concerns contact me at steven_ mccartney@walkpro grams.com.

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