In recent days, I was honored with teaching the first Nike Training Club class in Puebla, Mexico as a guest trainer of Nike Mexico. If you don’t know anything about Puebla, this is the state in Mexico where the famous “Cinco de Mayo” celebration started. It is also where the Mexican “mole” sauce was invented and a city bordered with volcanoes, one of which is currently active and throwing impressive amounts of volcanic ash into the air.
I flew into Mexico City, the city with the highest population in the Western Hemisphere, at about 21 million. The flight over the city, as the plane approached Benito Juarez International Airport, is impressive. As you look out the plane’s window, all you can see is buildings and houses for miles and miles. I suppose 21 million people need to live and work somewhere… You can see the famous city landmarks from the air, from the Latinomericana tower, to the World Trade Center, the Angel de la Independencia, and even the Zocalo, or main square, which is where the city government sits. My experience going through immigration and customs was the dream of any international traveler, no lines anywhere! I managed to leave the airport in a matter of minutes. From there, a two hour bus ride going up through the volcanic mountains and then descending into the valley where the City of Puebla was established in 1531, the City of Angels or “Angelopolis” as it is commonly know. According to the legend, Angels from heaven traced the design of the City when it was first founded and, upon the completion of its Cathedral, when the builders were despaired because they did not have a way to haul the heavy bells up to the towers, Angels came down from heaven while the builders were sleeping and installed them overnight.
Puebla is a magnificent mixture of colonial style buildings in the center of the city with modern sky rises, malls, and expensive golf courses in the outer parts of the city. People are very nice and friendly, but driving in the “high-speed” highways full of potholes and with aggressive drivers whose only purpose seems to be to get to their destination while beating the latest Formula 1 speed record, is always an interesting experience.
As Sir Paul McCartney was getting ready for his Mother’s Day concert in Mexico City and most Mexican households were getting ready to celebrate this important date, I got to the Parque del Arte in Puebla, where the marketing team of Nike Mexico was awaiting for my arrival with a stage built specially for my class, a sound system playing the latest hits, and the invaluable hard working volunteers who were making sure the event went without a hitch. About an hour later, people were already lined up waiting to come in and get ready for their workout. The electricity and excitement in the air were contagious. I greeted some of the participants, including a couple of great childhood friends who made the trip to Puebla especially to be part of the event, made sure my microphone was working properly and greeted the participants while still walking amongst them with a loud “Hola Puebla!” If you have ever been at an event in Mexico, you know Mexican people can be loud in a very warm and welcoming way, which was the type of welcome they gave me!
With the pavilion completely full with athletes, I jumped on to the stage, greeted the participants, organized them, and got everyone ready to go through the Nike Training Club class! There were runners and athletes of all walks of life lined up and ready to sweat. This was the first ever NTC class in Puebla, so they had no idea of the intensity of the workout. Regardless, everyone put their hearts into the training and endured its high intensity athletic demands without decreasing their enthusiasm and energy one bit. I occasionally got down from the stage and walked among them giving high fives and encouraging them to keep on going with the workout, to which they reacted with an ear-to-ear smile and a high-five back. After almost an hour of athletic intensity, I wrapped up the training, thanked all the athletes for their hospitality, went through a quick photo session, and headed back home. It was already night time and the ride back took me through historical monuments illuminated in bright lights and the normal city traffic of cars heading back to their homes for a good night’s rest.
An amazing experience that proved to me once again that athletes all over the world have the same commitment to fitness regardless of challenging environmental conditions, financial hardships, or any type of excuses… Truly inspiring… Thank you Mexico!
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