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Trendy gear does not an athlete make

The woman who was setting up the bike in front me intimidated me quite frankly.

Why?

She looked like she had just stepped out of a Nike commercial.

She had "the look" and if you've ever spent time exercising, whether at the gym or just walking a loop at Delaware Park, you know what I'm talking about -- a person who is beautiful, thin and wearing the latest gear so effortlessly they might as well be on their way to a catalog photo shoot.

So I was mentally prepared to spend spin class with my eyes closed most of the time so that I could concentrated on my workout instead of comparing myself to this woman.

But once class started I noticed that, well, she ... stunk.

She kept up during each segment, though I don't think she touched the resistance knob once. Not even when she set up her bike. When each segment ended and the instructor was changing the music, she stopped pedaling. She stopped pedaling? In spin class you always pedal, even if its slow, light and easy while you recover and take a drink of water.

The episode reminded me of a yoga class I went to with a friend a few years ago.  We were awed by the look of this one woman who, again, apparently stepped out of a Prana catalog. But catch a glimpse of her while coming out of a pose and it was clear she didn't know her downward-facing-dog from her upward-facing one. We joked about it afterward, then realized it was kind of mean and that we had probably wrecked any good karma we established from going to the class in the first place.

My point is this: Looks can be deceiving.

We're all guilty of the proverbial "judging a book by its cover" no matter how much we strive to be above the vanity fray. We even do it to ourselves as triathlon blogger Iron "Geek Girl" Misty recently pointed out when she wrote about beginning her journey partly to become thin but found herself becoming an athlete instead.

After all, being athletic, isn't that what we're in this for? Whether it's to compete or just get healthy, this isn't all about the look.

You can buy all the cool, trendy athletic gear you want. You can buy the cool expensive training gadgets that include GPS tracking systems just in case you get disoriented on that jog around your neighborhood.

I don't hold fancy gear and gadgets against anyone. I myself have some pretty cool gear and a few gadgets here and there.

But the gear and gadgets don't make you an athlete. The work does.

And right about now, I should be on my way to do my strength training exercises before plowing a path in snow for today's 30-minute run.

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