By Marisa de Peralta, GAMMA Brand Partner
My husband was always more health-conscious than me. He is also a much better athlete. He would play racquetball a few nights a week or ride his bike for hours.
He nagged me about staying healthy and keeping fit. “We are not getting any younger!” he said. I finally succumbed to his “reminders.” For several weekends, I woke up at six o’clock in the morning to go bike riding with him. “Let’s go before the sun gets too hot!” he declared. I went bike riding around town and through the parks with him. I enjoyed the beautiful sceneries and the refreshing feel of the wind to my face and the warm sun on my back.
Fun! All would be fine until we would get to ride up those hills! Even hills with only a 10-degree incline was torturous when they went on forever — maybe not forever, but it sure felt that way! What was meant to be a pleasurable ride became an agonizing experience. The wonder of feeling one-with-nature paled in comparison to the anguish of pedaling uphill. “I gave up sleeping in for this? My legs hurt!” I’d complain. I thought I said those words only a couple of times, but my husband called it “incessant complaining.” Who was right? It didn’t matter. In the end, after a few weeks of this couples-activity, I couldn’t get over the dread of pedaling over those “little” hills and hearing my husband say he was tired of listening to me complain. Before long, he’d be off riding his bike early in the morning and I’d be content sleeping in.
“I found a sport you’d like!” he exclaimed excitedly one evening. He was grinning from ear to ear! “You’ll like it! It’s called pickleball.”
“Pickle-what?,” I asked in disbelief with a little skeptical grin.
“It’s a sport like tennis and ping pong combined — played on a court half the size of a tennis court. A plastic whiffle ball and paddle are used. It’s fun!” He was beaming the entire time he explained to me the tidbits about this sport with a weird name.
I got up at 6 o’clock the next morning to get ready to play a sport I had never tried with a group of people I had never met. I put the dreadful thought aside about what happened the last time I gave up my beauty sleep to try doing something healthy.
Off we drove to a community recreation center. I was feeling a bit anxious. My trepidations quickly melted away once we got there since the group gave me such a warm welcome. They made me feel at ease about being a newbie. I quickly learned the rules of pickleball and the simple do’s and don’ts.
I enjoyed the game and playing with the group so much that day. It was exhilarating. I was hooked! There was no going back! I went to play with my husband again the next day and many more days after that. Not only do I not mind getting up early in the morning during the week and on the weekends, but I eagerly anticipate the experience.
Pickleball is a sport my husband and I have come to enjoy. We engage in lengthy conversations with each other about the sport. No “incessant complaining” about the “torturous hills,” just pure fun! We play as partners much of the time. He gives me tips to help me get better.
As an added benefit for me, he now frequently surprises me with pickleball-related presents like pickleball-themed earrings, necklaces, leggings and what-nots. For someone who hates to shop, he discovers these unique items for me. “Those are lovely. Where’d you get those?” many women (and men!) would ask. I proudly tell them, “They’re my husband’s presents!” I have to say he appreciates the acknowledgement.
My husband is still a much better athlete than I am. A much better pickleball player than me. No big deal. I cheer him on and happy to be his #1 fan.