Maybe one of the “worst” Hanukkah gifts I received was a set of hand-held weights. They came on a little pyramid shaped holder. Red three-pounders on top, green five-pounders in the middle, and purple eight-pounders at the base. I recall scowling at them, wondering why my parents couldn’t have just gotten me a pony like every other thirteen year old at the temple.
Yet despite my initial and long standing hatred of those weights, I kept them. In fact, I have had those weights for 14 years now. I have carted them from my parent’s house to my dorm room, and then to all my subsequent college housing experiences (including the 10×12 joke of a space I called a studio apartment the year I decided I wanted to live by myself). Faithfully they lived in the bathroom cabinets, in a garage, under my bed, and in the closet, always ready for me. And while at first I was carrying them around–because yes they were strangely mine–one day I realized I was carrying them around because I was ready for them. In fact, I was more than ready…I was actually using them.
It all started because I joined a Jazzercise class–partly to get in shape, partly because the dance aerobics class I liked wasn’t being offered at a time I could squish into my schedule. At Jazzercise, the first half of the class is spent doing aerobic exercise and the second half is for strength and core. Well, it was quickly apparent that I was not going to get strong from doing arm curls to The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” without holding onto some weights. So I picked up those red three-pound weights and kept them in my car, along with my exercise mat.
And then I found myself feeling antsy when I was trying to write educational curriculum for The College Board. I picked up the five-pound weights and mindlessly lifted them while I sat in front of my laptop, trying desperately to defy the writer’s block that was making itself comfortable. Soon I was lifting those weights every other day for a few minutes while I watched television or waited for my pasta water to boil.
I have used all three sets of weights at various times in my on-again, off-again fitness career. Sometimes they are handy for a class I want to take, sometimes I just keep them sitting out in my room so I am apt to pick them up and do a few curls for my triceps. Having my own set of weights means I never have to scramble to find resistance, and it also means that I can use them with home workout videos (like Tae Bo) or drag them with me to Boot Camp.
So interestingly, while all the My Little Ponies (never did get a real one) and Gameboys have slowly been filtered out of my world, the one gift I saw no use for has become one of the only lasting gifts I received as a pre-teen. I continue to use the weights and at this point would never consider donating them to the Salvation Army, despite how cumbersome they seem every time I relocate. Even if months or a year goes by without my breaking them out, I know eventually I’ll want to use them again.
I wonder if my parents knew then that exercise was going to be the gift that kept on giving–a constant in my every day routine–or if they were just praying I would show any desire to do something physical one day. Perhaps I would have enjoyed calling my parents dumbbells when I opened this gift, I now would like to christen both my parents and these hand-weights with a new title: smartbells.