When I was a child, my idea of fitness was lifting a pair of binoculars to ogle the attractive players at Yankee Stadium. I had been so put out by classmates – and I’m sorry to add, teachers – who told me I was fat that the scarlet “C” I got in gym was to me a red badge of courage. (Sorry, Stephen Crane.)

The only time I earned an “A” in gym was in my high school interpretive modern dance class, in which I literally threw myself into demonstrating Humphrey-Weidman falls and approximating Martha Graham’s neurotic ancient-Greek heroines. I paid a price for art, however: I was left permanently with Rafael Nadal knees. (If only the rest of Rafael Nadal came with them.)

Anyhoo, it took me a long time to figure out that if I developed a fitness regimen (walking, weight lifting and yoga), then I could actually eat the Mediterranean diet that was plentifully provided at home by Aunt Mary and have all the energy I needed for my real passion – writing. A lover of the ancient Greeks since childhood, I had failed to absorb one of their great legacies – “Sound in mind, sound in body.”

This month, WAG salutes a group of extraordinary individuals who got the memo early on and have lived it. And we’ve done so with – for the first time, I think – three dedicated sub-themes. First, there’s our tribute to the United States Tennis Association, which not only stages the US Open, a jewel in the crown of the sport that gets under way at the end of this month, but has done so much to bring tennis to people of every age, ability and walk of life. Next we consider the American Gold Cup, the prestigious World Cup qualifier that takes place at Old Salem Farm in September and exemplifies the refinement and rigor of show jumping.

Last but not least, we explore the world of the health-care hero, people like Dr. Ron Israelski, who has devoted himself to rebuilding bodies and lives from the rubble of the earthquake in Haiti.

As you read through this issue, which includes talks with fencer Slava Grigoriev and personal trainer Donovan Green, keep in mind two things. One, the days when Babe Ruth got his extracurricular activity by lifting a pitcher of beer, a platter of hot dogs and a flapper or two are long gone. Today you cross-train in order to do your sport.

And two, being fit is only one component of wellness – or what we call “s’wellness.” It’s about the integrity of mind, body and spirit – cultivating an interior life, going inward to reach out to others.

And to that end, I’d like to say a few words about our cover guy, Novak Djokovic, beginning with my thanks to Uniqlo, the day and active-wear company he reps for some of the lovely photos you see here. I must confess that it took me, a devout Nadal-ista, a long time to warm to Nole. But we selected him for our cover for his commitment to mind (always learning new languages) body (a fitness regimen that has enabled him to become No. 1) and spirit (his charitable work with Uniqlo and the Novak Djokovic Foundation).

That spirit was on display last month as he lost to Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final but still stopped to sign autographs and went on to host his foundation’s second fundraising gala. Couldn’t have been easy when your heart is breaking. But like historical figures ranging from St. Paul to Henry V, Nole has learned “to put aside childish things.”

That’s what wellness is – or ought to be.

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