I bow, therefore I am

Petaling Jaya Travel Blog

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I finally went for the 1st of two free sessions with a personal trainer. It’s one of the benefits for members of this fitness club.

When I walked in, I was 10 minutes late, on account of rain. There was my instructor at the reception area, who greeted me and waited while I changed into workout gear. So after changing, I walked out to the gym area to meet him so that he can get me started on a fitness regime that will help me manage my weight while helping me bring my fitness levels up.

Anyways, there he was, standing next to another staff at the club, who, I later found out when I was introduced to him, to be the director of fitness at the club. While the instructor was telling me about the mechanics of what was going to happen, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, the ‘boss’ taking a good look at my legs!

Ok, let’s pause here while I tell you why he was looking at my legs. I’m bow-legged. It is actually a medical condition. I don't think the doctors at the time were able to aptly explain them to my parents... or my folks just forgot if it was a medical condition. Anyway, I had surgery on my left leg to remove what appeared to have been an additional bone. And then they cut open my right knee to see if there was an alignment of sorts. After stitching me up, I was given braces to wear to help straighten and align the ankle and knee. I cried my eyes out from the pain (I was 5!) that mum said forget it! Well, if I had worn them, I wouldn't be the interest of a travelling circus. But it makes me happy to know that this is not an uncommon problem.

Truth be told, my parents aren’t able to tell me if I was born this way or that my legs turn this way on their own as I grew. In any case, it became obvious when I was 4 years of age. However, they never troubled me throughout my childhood. I was a tomboy, always running, playing tag with my sisters, cousin and neighbours. I couldn’t sit still for one minute! I was completely oblivious to how I looked. Of course, when I hit puberty, it became a source of discomfort for me, emotionally. I became more and more self conscious when I noticed people were gawking at my ‘deformed’ legs. Funny thing is, though, that I never felt that way in school. I supposed I got used to the stares, and the kids got used to seeing me the way I am that became yesterday’s news to them.

After I left school and started life in the real world, I became even more self-conscious as I couldn’t get used to people staring at me on the street. I even used to wear floor length skirts to cover up my legs. But as I got older, and matured, I realized that it is human nature to be curious about something that looks unusual. I’m no different! I look at people who look different. But how I stare does make a difference. I don’t! I simply glance without dropping my jaw (jaw-dropping is the #1 giveaway for gawkers).

To gawk is rude! You make people feel self conscious and embarrassed of themselves. Nobody’s perfect. It’s easy for us to point a finger and stare at that freak with the large mole on his nose, without realizing that we have imperfections too. Remember this: people with no flaws on the outside are usually tainted on the inside.

Pressing play again, I had a strange feeling that the ‘boss’ was there to evaluate my physical condition and advise his charge on how to best assist me with my workout program. And I was right, because as I was warming up on the cross-trainer, I could overhear the trainer talking with his superior about me. But not before he gathered information on my history and if my legs will affect my working out in any way.

It did annoy me in the beginning, to think that consultation was needed to assist me. But then, I relaxed when I realized that they were probably doing it to avoid a lawsuit in case I hurt myself in any way.

Just like I’ve told people before, I am physically able. I may look ‘weird’, but my legs have never hampered my mobility in any way. Heck! I was getting my hands dirty, trying out for practically every kind of sport in school. I love being competitive! Oh, and I can still dance better than any MTV generation ‘child’ of the 21st century!

Of course, today, with my excess weight, it’s difficult to do anything high impact as my knees wont allow me. My knees were the reason for my early retirement from sports. I picked up an injury at 12, and until today, never really had it checked out. Injury equals less physical activity, which in turn piles on the pounds!

Today though, I’m working out not only to lose weight, but also to move a little faster. Being heavy and sometimes slow can be crippling for someone who used to jump rope and run track! But it’s never to late to start all over!

A word of advice… When you encounter a person with deformities/disabilities or who look funny, ask them, how did it happen? Don’t try to figure it out yourself as you scrutinize and gawk at them without realizing it.

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Petaling Jaya
photo by: cynthiasmiller