My fitness journey
by Chey Cheney
My name is Chey, and I'm a Middle School teacher in Toronto, Canada. Fitness and Athletics have always been foundational in my teaching assignments and integral to my lifestyle. I would never think of it as a linear journey, but rather as a random drifting in space. I seemed okay with this randomness of my athleticism. Being athletic was, and continues to be, a part of my life. It's a part of my job and it resonated in how I live my life, but I didn't ever connect to it as an extension of my identity. As such, I wasn't able to always reflect and make connections to how my athleticism was making me better in the classroom and as a teacher. Later in my career, there came a moment when I shifted, when I changed, where my mindset altered. For the purpose of narrative, I can fixate on one particular injury that truly sidetracked my athletic progress, and forced me to realize and reflect on my Fitness Journey.
As a young man I played sports regularly at the parks, in local leagues, in competitive clubs, in high school, and ultimately, I ascended to four years of university baseball, where I perhaps thought that would be the pinnacle of my athleticism. After university, I shifted to my teaching profession, where athletics were embedded and part of a job. And although I continue to play basketball in leagues, softball for recreation, and moderately paid attention to how I ate, it was never to the rigour of when I was a University athlete, until I was about 38 years old. At 38, I dove back into trying to play ball at a competitive level. I trained, I practiced, and at 40 years old, I was a part of a provincial championship team. But I was still striving for more and continued to train.
It's at this point that my story alters. At the age of 42, I unfortunately had a disastrous knee injury that resulted in the need for emergency surgery. It's a surgery that a younger man is likely able to recover from easily, making a quick return to playing the sports that they had been playing. The prognosis with this injury coupled with my age, however, meant that I would never be able to return to the level of sports I was playing just prior. “It's time for you to just coach,” I painfully heard the doctor tell me.
Comments and information like this are daunting to comprehend. Although I did not dismiss my doctor’s advice and recommendations, I decided that I was going to get through this and get back to playing, no matter what. I did make the decision that if I wasn't going to be able to return to playing competitive sports and playing elite positions on the field, it wasn't going to be because I hadn't gone all-in to try to better myself. I was going to go out in a “Blaze of Glory.”
Things that I took casually before the injury, I now took very seriously, assuredly and explicitly. Specific expectations, very determined goals, now including my food intake and nutrition not only became my lifestyle, they became my identity. The gym became mandatory, running and training became necessary, not deviating from my nutrition became vital. The recovery has been great, but slow. Teamed up with Covid-19, I have yet to return to the field of play, but more importantly, I'm stronger than ever. I'm leaner than when I was a University athlete, and I can now run speeds and distances that I hadn't been able to run beforehand. More importantly, I've taken all this very intentional and poignant learning back into my teaching space. More than just a “role model” who's athletic, I’ve become a true advocate and ally of an athletic lifestyle, and for the benefits of everything associated with being fit.
The story of this journey is not over. I still have a goal to be back on the baseball diamond playing centre field and stretching singles to doubles with the speed and aggression of my past. Until I hit that moment, I'm going to remain dedicated to my strength training, to running, to nutrition, and to be overall better as a mutual learner and advocate in my classroom space.
The Journey Continues.