life: super powers not included

The Stranger Who Made My Week

Two friendsphoto by greekadman

Strangers are underrated. Hear me out.

Sure, they drive slow when you’re late for work, cut to the front of a long line when you’ve been waiting for 20 minutes, and forget to say thanks when you hold the door for them. (You know who you are.) But sometimes they surprise you.

The other day at the gym, I decided to try a new exercise I saw on ESPN.

(If you know me, you probably think I’m joking right now. I spend most of my time begging The Man to switch it to any other channel. But it was on, and the station was running some footage of an athlete—see, I don’t even know what sport he plays!—doing physical therapy for a knee injury. So I rewound it and watched him do the move again. So there you have it. Me + ESPN.)

Anyhow, the other day I wanted to try the move. It’s a modified version of the assisted squat I do with an exercise ball. Usually I just sandwich the ball between my back and a wall then use a single leg to squat down. ESPN squats (I just coined that. Watch for the trademark) use a resistance band looped like a figure eight around the calves for extra resistance. The normal one-legged squats were getting a bit too easy for me anyhow, so I thought it was a good time to switch things up.

Then in the middle of squat No. six a stranger passed by. “Wow, that looks hard,” she said. “You go girl.”

That’s right. A random woman thought I—the gimp—was doing a hard exercise. I wanted to shout to her, “Look at you—walking! You go girl!” But instead I did some lame smile-and-nod thing with a giggle in there for good measure. I think I was too shocked or flattered to even mumble a coherent sentence.

So there you have it: A stranger made my day week. It’s good to know that I can be so injured that walking four blocks leaves me limping but I can still do some crazy things at the gym. And that gives me hope.

Has that ever happened to you? What did they say? Or has anyone ever told you that you’re the stranger that made their day?

PS. If you want to give ESPN Squats a try, do this:

  1. Loop a resistance band around one leg, give it a twist, then loop it around the other. It should form a figure eight shape.
  2. Make sure the band rests around your calves.
  3. Place an exercise ball between a wall and your back.
  4. Keep one foot on the ground in front of you, then lift the other leg so it’s parallel to the floor. You should feel resistance from the band when your leg is raised and straightened.
  5. Squat then return to the start position. You should feel resistance from the band as you rise from the squat position.
  6. Repeat 30 times on each leg.
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10 comments

1 Kelly { 01.22.10 at 7:11 pm }

Oh…so gonna try the ESPN squat (like the coined name!!) That sounds awesome!!! I am so glad a stranger made your day!! :) What a great way to end the week!

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2 Struggler { 01.22.10 at 7:51 pm }

Youch, sounds hard. And that doesn’t put pressure on your knee?
In terms of kind strangers, I do remember the first time I joined a trail running event, I was having a walking break (but of course – it was a hill!) and many of the guys who passed me had a kind or encouraging word to say. Any single gals reading this who would like to meet a nice man, you might give that sport a try :)

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Tracey Reply:

Struggler, the squats don’t put strain on my knees because I’m really careful not to squat too far down. Doing that puts added pressure on the knee joint. So does allowing your knee to go over your toe line. Plus, having the ball behind you absorbs some of the pressure that would normally be on the knees. Aside from the resistance band aspect, the one-legged ball squat is PT approved for people with (or without) knee injuries.

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3 FoodFitnessFreshair { 01.22.10 at 9:22 pm }

I love to encourage people exercising. Sometimes I run down by the river, and when I run by people that are a little heavier and look like they’re struggling a bit I often yell something like “good job, you got it”. It’s great to support people and bring a smile to their face. I know that when I get shout at while I’m running it motivates me to keep on going!

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4 Fit Chick in the City { 01.23.10 at 8:16 am }

That’s so great! Strangers are so often unfriendly. It’s so great when one surprises us with their kindness. Have a great weekend!

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5 Ameena { 01.23.10 at 1:15 pm }

I love it when strangers are so friendly. It totally makes my day. It happens all the time with Maya and I are together and people tell her she is SO cute! I love it and unfortunately so does Maya! She already has abit of an ego!

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6 gio { 01.23.10 at 3:40 pm }

i am always giving encouragemet. its good to know people appreciate it.

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7 eatmovelove { 01.23.10 at 5:50 pm }

I totally know what you mean! It feels so good – and unexpected – when someone gives you a compliment or something – without having too! I blogged about someone who I work with occasionally on one of my units who emailed me unexpectedly about the great job I was doing a few weeks ago…especially since I don’t like my job and am trying to find peace and what I want out of life….at least noone else notices it!

My friends say alot that I’m the girl that gives those out as well – without even realizing it! – like getting cards for co-workers B-days, or bringing in cookies…I often tell people too if I like their hair or clothes or something…I’m not trying to “suck up” or anything – and don’t do it all the time!!! – haha – but sometimes it just slips – cause it’s true!!!..and I may or may not want to track down their hairstylist or that clothing store…oops!! ;)

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Tracey Reply:

Foodfitnessfreshair: I’m sure that gives people a nice boost and puts a smile on their face for the rest of the workout.

Fit Chick in the City: It really is a surprise when someone goes out of their way. Too bad it doesn’t happen more often.

Ameena: Um, that’s probably because she is cute. Adorable!

Eatmovelove: Getting an unexpected compliment at work can really make my day, too. Hearing “good job” makes me feel like, yes, someone is noticing my hard work. It’s so underrated in the workplace.

Jasmine: You’re so right. When someone close to me tells me I’m coming along in terms of my knee recovery I think “hm, they’re just saying that.” But if a stranger does it, it makes my week!

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8 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write { 01.24.10 at 1:04 am }

Lol. I always try to say nice things to strangers. It’s weird how you can hear things from people you know and they roll right off your back. But, someone new says it, you walk around all proud.

I agree with her. YOU GO GIRL! :D

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