There’s a high-energy couple who visit their parents in sunny south Florida for the holidays, around the same time I go down there for vacation every year. I see them running, biking, or rollerblading around the neighborhood on sunny days and working out in the gym on rainy days.
I often hear grumbling from older neighbors as the “Fits” speed by. “There go the health nuts,” they complain. Me? I often bike with the couple, when my busy tennis, golf, and yoga schedule permits. I wasn’t surprised when “Mr. Fit” invited me to join him on a twenty-mile bike ride one day, to eyeball a well-juried art fair with plenty of great street food, and then bike back.
I was surprised when “Mrs. Fit” opted not to join us on the trip. At the first red light, Mr. Fit explained that his wife’s stomach was acting up, and it might be related to the fact that she was—“EXPECTING!” he shouted, to be heard over the roar of an oncoming bus.
He used our ride to pump me for suggestions about appropriate names for a child probably fated by DNA to be athletic and healthy. (If not, he hoped the name might have the effect of encouraging the child in that direction.)
While biking along a quiet, beachfront road, I asked him who his favorite athletes were and we came up with some names that might work for a boy or a girl, in the following categories:
Soccer Player Names
Girls: Mia (Hamm), April (Heinrichs)
Boys: Landon (Donovan), Wayne (Rooney), David (Beckham), Lionel (Messi)
Tennis Player Names
Girls: Serena (Williams), Chris (Evert), Martina (Navratilova)
Boys: Rafael (Nadal), Roger (Federer), Novak (Djokovich)
Girls: Lindsey (Vonn), Picabo (Street)
Boys: Bode (Miller), Bill (Koch)
Girls: Summer (Sanders), Dara (Torres)
Boys: Michael (Phelps), Ryan (Lochte)
Girls: Jackie (Joyner-Kersee), Lolo (Jones)
Boys: Jesse (Owens), Carl (Lewis)
Mr. Fit loves biking, but you never know when one of your favorite cyclists will admit to doping, so we thought it would be safer to leave out that category.
We also decided to consider the following categories, more loosely related to being out in nature and living a healthy lifestyle:
Girls: Diana, Athena
Boys: Mercury, Thor
Girls: Skye, Rain, Heather
Boys: Forest, River
Girls: Lark, Robin
Boys: Colt, Jay
Girls: Carolina, Virginia
Boys: Indiana, Dakota
Girls: Eve (“life”), Vita (“life”)
Boys: Vitas (“alive, vital”)
Gender Neutral: Chase
Boys: Tripp, Hunter, Skip, Walker
While biking we tossed out scores of names, so after quenching our thirst (me with a cold beer; Mr. Fit with fizzy water), we decided to write down the names we still liked. Of course, with pencils in hand, it was easy to add new names to the list and cross out those that seemed too odd or clunky.
Mr. Fit was happy that we came up with so many names that might inspire his son or daughter to live a healthy lifestyle. I was happier that we had come up with some names that “Fit Jr.” would, in all likelihood, feel good about because they would be well-received by others.
When you think about the kids and teachers Fit Jr. will meet on the first day of school; the college admissions counselors who will read Fit Jr.’s applications; and the people he or she will meet during the process of dating and finding a job after college, you realize how many people will be forming quick impressions about Jr.—partially influenced by whatever name the Fits select. In my opinion, it matters less that the name creates a “fit” or “healthy” impression than that it creates a positive impression overall.
Although some of the names (Vita and Vitas, for example) may seem odd to some people, there’s nothing odd about Carolina, Diana, Eve, Jackie, Lindsey, Skye, or Summer; Bill, Ryan, David, Chase, Forest, Hunter, Michael, Roger, or Tripp. And I think a number of the other names on the list are also worth considering.
If this subject interests you at all, once you’ve considered the fitness and health aspect of the names listed above, focus on what it’s going to be like for your child to live with the name you choose. That’s the most important test for any name. And it’s a good way to make sure that the name you give your child comes across more like a help than a hindrance.
© 2013 Bruce Lansky
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