When he started kickboxing, he weighed 330lbs. He suffered from high blood pressure and Type II Diabetes. He couldn’t do a sit-up or a pushup. But I invited him to class anyways.
Honestly, I didn’t think he’d come. I invited him before and he always had “no” for an answer. He surprised me when he responded, “I’ll be there, what time?”
He drove 60 miles for a 45 minute Muay Thai class. Scratch that. He got up wicked early on a Saturday morning to drive 60 miles to take a 9:15 kickboxing class that lasted 45 minutes and then drive 60 miles home. Would you do that?
When he first stepped into the dojo, I could tell he was a little nervous. “No worries,” I told him, “I’m your training partner today.” I’m not sure, but that probably made him more anxious.
After his first class (yes, he did get through it) I saw the fire in his eyes. “Best. Workout. Ever,” he said between breaths. “When will my arms stop shaking?”
I laughed. Been there done that. I remember how I wobbly and shaky I felt after my first class.
Later that day he called me. “I have to do something,” he said. “I’m overweight. I feel like a slug, and I want to be around for a long time coming.”
While we were on the phone, he made a black belt decision.
He started coming to the dojo twice a week, then three, sometimes four times a week. He changed his eating habits. He started working out at the gym where he works. He started coming to running club, which is at 8 AM on Saturday mornings. Remember, he drives 60 miles just to get to the dojo…
He began a couch to 5k program. He ran his first 5k race with me in May. He convinced me to run the very muddy Spartan race in August. He became a Black Belt Club member and now he’s got his wife running at the track and kickboxing at the dojo.
Since he started martial arts in March, he’s lowered his blood pressure, lowered his blood sugar from 357 to 110, he’s lost almost 70lbs, and he’s shaved off over 10 minutes in time from his first 5k. He inspires me and others to do better, train harder, and go all out.
So, who is this person? I first met him almost 42 years ago. I wasn’t thrilled to have him in my life. In fact, I told our parents to take him back to the hospital because I wanted a baby sister, not another baby brother. I already had two younger brothers and at the wise age of 7, I determined that I had enough and didn’t need another one.
Ten days after he was born, there was an accident that left my baby brother with a serious head injury. Because I didn’t want another brother I thought the accident was my fault. So I made a deal with God – if He let my brother live, I’d be the best big sister, ever.
I’m sure there were may times while we were growing up that I was the pain in the butt big sister. As an adult I’ve wondered if I’ve help up my end of the deal I made when I was seven. Watching my brother take control of his life, get healthy, be physically fit, and encourage others to the same has been an awesome experience. The invitation I extended to him in March to try kickboxing is probably the best big sister thing I’ve ever done.
My brother, Michael Bell, is a soon-to-be-purple belt with a Black Belt Attitude. In a few years, he will be testing for his black belt and you can bet, I’ll be cheering him on.