Sports and exercise have been a huge part of my life ever since I was a little girl. Soccer games and ballet classes dictated my free time all the way through high school, and my early adulthood was punctuated by strength training, running, and yoga. I can still vividly remember the exhilaration of crossing the finish line of my first (and only) marathon.
In the Army, I thrived off the endorphins I got from navigating obstacle courses, rucking hilly courses with a heavy pack on my back, and pushing myself to excel at my physical fitness tests.
Then I became pregnant with my first child and suddenly, my body was no longer my own.
To my bewilderment, pregnancy completely transformed it in both the most beautiful and weird of ways, and after giving birth, I quickly learned that many of those changes were here to stay.
The last several years have been a long, painstaking journey to reconcile the demands of being a mom with my identity as a strong, active woman who is passionate about fitness. I’ve had to reframe my entire relationship with my body, learning to accept its incredible strengths and be patient with its limitations.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to see the debut of a new short film from Nike that addresses exactly this dilemma and speaks directly to the concerns many mothers have about their bodies during pregnancy and postpartum.
In an inspiring promotion for its maternity collection called Nike (M), the company sets out to prove that pregnancy and motherhood don’t prevent women from being athletes—moms by their very nature are athletes.
According to the brand, the film shows “how motherhood is an ultramarathon,” and features 20 mothers, from everyday moms to well-known celebrities like Serena Williams and daughter, Olympia, USWNT soccer player Alex Morgan, and track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Perri Shakes-Drayton, Nia Ali, and Bianca Williams.
“Can you be an athlete? You, pregnant? You, a mother? That depends,” the narrator begins. “What is an athlete?”
The camera cuts to a woman lying on her back in the grass lifting her baby over her head.
“Someone who moves? Sounds like you. Someone who gets it done, no matter what. You do that.”
The film consists of clips of the women engaging in all types of exercise—ranging from formal athletic training to play to physically giving birth—while pregnant and with their children.
The final line sent goosebumps running up my spine:
“So, can you be an athlete? If you aren’t, no one is.”
Thank you, Nike, for sending such an empowering message to moms and reaffirming to the world something that many of us already know: we are the toughest athletes.