As I was running past our local middle school this morning, my thoughts drifted back to my own experiences in eighth grade. I was actually a perfect weight for a teenage girl, and I was physically fit as well. I played volleyball and tennis, I swam, and while I was not a stellar athlete, I could play pretty much any sport I put my mind to trying. So it was funny that the one memory that came to my mind this morning was the week we did physical fitness testing. I did well on the running, I passed all the flexibility tests, but when it came to anything having to do with upper body strength, I failed miserably. I still remember the humiliation of trying to do even one pull-up and just hanging there without the ability to move myself up even one centimeter. I think my PE teacher thought I wasn’t even trying, but I was I actually pulling as hard as I could without any visible movement. Humiliation.
Fast forward thirty years and the same humiliating feeling came over me as I approached the monkey bar obstacle at the Survivor Mud Run. I took one look at it and just jumped in the mud without even trying. I was sure I couldn’t do it, and therefore by not at least attempting it, I had again failed.
So you may be asking yourself, "What does any of this have to do with bartering?" Well, my answer would be, "It has everything to do with why I am even blogging about bartering this week." I am at the point where I need some professional help but without a professional budget at my fingertips. I was stuck with being my own professional trainer, and while I am not a skilled at this, I am good at one thing...teaching. And as luck would have it I was tutoring a student whose parents own a local cross training facility. His father suggested we trade training for tutoring, and I knew I had finally found the solution to my fitness needs.
Now, because I have promised to always be honest and share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you, I will not lie and tell you my evaluation at the fitness center was pretty. In fact, if he didn’t know I was a runner, he might have thought I was a bit sedentary. And once again, when we got to the tests of upper body strength, I was embarrassingly weak. In fact even with heavy-duty elastic bands supporting me, I could hardly do any pull-ups, and the dips (an exercise on parallel bars where the body is lowered by bending the elbows and then is raised by straightening the arms) were impossible. I have a long way to go, but now I have hope that I can actually improve--all because of this bartering opportunity. I could not afford personal training, but I can easily teach in exchange for the training.
Think about what you do well and how you can trade that for what you need. I know a lot of people have the excuse that they can’t work out because there is no one to watch their kids. How about trading babysitting with a trusted friend who may also need to get to the gym? You take turns watching the kids, and you both benefit from the extra time to focus on your health. Or if you are good at scrapbooking or some other handy craft, maybe you could trade lessons with someone who knows how to make healthy meals. It may take some creative thinking where bartering is concerned, but with these tough financial times, I think you will be pleasantly surprised what people will be willing to trade for. I never thought I’d ever be able to afford a trainer, but with bartering, it became possible. And maybe, just maybe I will finally be able to put to rest those embarrassing middle school memories by making it across the monkey bars in an upcoming mud run.