cycling · fitness

Sam gets better this winter at going it alone

treeOne theme that’s been running through my winter fitness activities this year is that of bravely doing things alone. That’s  tough for me. I’m not great at meeting new people and I spend most of my time working alone (thinking and writing, it’s what professors do a lot) so when it comes to the evening, the weekend, and physical activities I’d rather have company. People praise me for being good at bringing people together. I’m a social connector by nature and I love to introduce people to other people I know they’d like. I organize group cycling trips, cross country skiing outings, dog hikes, and hot tubbing after too. I know people like my facilitating but it often serves my needs as well. I want to do hard physically challenging things and I want to spend time with a select group of people so when I can, I try to merge the two things.

Existing friends joke when they meet a new friend, “Has she got you riding a bike yet?” Yes, I’m sorry. It’s true. I’m that person. Honestly though, it’s a sure sign I like you. If I really like you, I’ll suggest long rides and bike trips too. Or Aikido. Or weight lifting. Or all of the things.

Really, there isn’t anything fitnessy that I wouldn’t rather do in the company of people I know and love.

But this winter for a variety of reasons there’s been less of the sporty togetherness. Family and friends have their own things on. My teens are growing up. Mallory is in New Zealand. So if I want to do the things I want to do, I’ve had to do them alone.

I’ve been going to the MEC Indoor Cycling class on my own. See On Doing Difficult Things and it’s been okay. I put out a call for friends to come with the first week but no one was having it. Leaving the house before 8 in the morning on a Sunday just isn’t the sort of thing most people want to do. Who knew? Nat was especially opposed to pants. Jeff just had surgery but frankly didn’t want to come before surgery either.

In a different category of brave, I went to a burlesque class on my own. See Sam has fun at body positive burlesque. Way outside my comfort zone! Again, I put out the call but friends declined. Too femmey, it was on Valentine’s Day, and the weather was awful. Fine. Strangers and burlesque–two scary things together–but I went and it was fun.

This weekend it was fat biking on my own. A local bike shop had a demo set up in a local conservation area with a dozen bikes there for the trying. There were trails to go out on but no real organized groups. Jeff came with me for the drive out there through the sunny countryside but riding a bike in the snow holds zero appeal for him. I think it’s a blast but we don’t all have to like the same thing. (As my mother used to say.) When we go there I was ready to not get out of the car but once I did everyone was nice. There were plenty of women there, some even my age. That helped. They set me up on a bike and off I went into the woods. Again, fun.

Each of these things would have been more fun with friends. But faced with a choice between not doing them and doing them on my own, I’ll go it alone.

I’m appreciating these days how small a group I’m in, liking the things that I like. And wanting to do them will mean heading out on my own. I think as I get older it’ll be challenging to find companions with whom to ski, canoe, bike, run, and lift weights. More and more, I’m getting funny looks from my peers when I talk about the things I love to do. Luckily I’m okay with younger people and I don’t always need to be the fastest or the fittest.

Note: It’s also true that I’m not always on my own. I’ve been skating with Jeff, skiing and fat biking with Sarah, and riding the trainer with Chris, Tracy, Annette, and Kim. There’s still lots of fitnessy togetherness in my life.

Another note: This is different than the discussion we’ve had here before about training alone or with others. These are group activities and they’re not alone workouts. But they are strangers, not friends. And the challenging bit is getting there. Once there, it’s all fine. I just need to remind myself of that.

How about you? Do you mix friends and family and your fitness activities or do you train alone or with a group that you only know because you train with them? How does it all fit together for you?


12 thoughts on “Sam gets better this winter at going it alone

  1. It’s totally the pants AND that I spin inside nearly naked. Ok with you and others in a house but short shorts & bra in a large venue sitting next to everyone as I make my “ohhhh faaaaaack” face?

      1. As long as the chamois gives adequate coverage so as not to be ouchy on the saddle, I’m in… 🙂

  2. Thinking about what works for us/motivates us/gives us joy in fitnessy things: I’m trying the opposite these days. That is, I’m trying to bring people together more for activities rather than going it alone. Norah and I have been yoga-ing some, along with my friend Kathy, too. I’m certainly going on my own, but it’s really nice that it’s our local studio (a less-than-10-minute-walk from both our houses). And I organized an activity/fun trip to Puerto Rico that will involve kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, maybe some hiking, and Rachel may even try scuba!

    Congratulations on trying (and it sounds like enjoying) the singleton pleasure in doing physical activity. It’s great to have both options open, and you’re certainly a role model for the power of groups.

  3. I’m a go alone to fitness activities type.
    I like to go when I want.
    I’m mainly going to yoga, so it’s not overly social. I love the be alone in a room full of others doing the same thing!

  4. I enjoyed taking the occasional course in past 2 decades on: tai-chi, pilate/yoga combo exercises. I use some of those exercises into my own solo home sequence of exercises for stretching, flexibility. I learn a lot from instructors for sports I have no clue about how to do it safely. However even in a class, I don’t have much of a need to socialize. So I’m not disappointed.

    I have cycled only couple times per year in a group or less. I’ve been a cyclist for last 25 years. If I ride with anyone it is with my partner (who is currently in a different city. So he and I arrange visit-stays. He and I have clothing, bikes in 2 different provinces..) or we each cycle with a friend (rare). I have joined the occasional local cycling group but it’s more a fun /theme ride. Maybe 1-2 times /yr. I love joining up at cycling events at a destination event….just to share cycling vibe.

    We’ve enjoyed riding together when our schedules suit. But I work full-time, he has taken early retirement.

    So a lot of times I am cycling solo….being car-free for both of us, puts a whole different perspective on the necessity of becoming self-motivated. Yes, I do go for 50 km. locally on my own or my own baby length rides.

    My partner does not cycle regularily with other cyclists riding in a peloton several times per week. He either rides with me or occasionally a male acquaintance or most the time solo riding when he’s not in same city as I am. He has done extensive solo bike touring with loaded panniers across countries and has been gone for weeks. I in turn, end up cycling solo in home city. We support each other daily either riding or talking to one another briefly about cycling or cycling matters. (By the way, he is going to be working on the new bikeshare install in Vancouver. So uber busy.)

    We are both first-borns in our respective families, so it’s not a surprise to one another (and others who know us) that we either like cycling with another person or do it solo often. I’m not really a team sport person at all and neither is he. It took us each a long time to figure that out in our individual life journeys. I thought I was always letting down my team when I was in high school. *****If we could help children figure this one out ..solo sports vs. team sports to fit their personality, we just might solve a big part of the sport motivation for children.

    **There are times in our lives we need to learn how to do certain sports/exercises that we love, solo: partners may become ill or pass away, same with friends or just unable to synchronize schedules for togetherness in collective enjoyment of a fitness activity.

    I do have a friend locally who knows about cycling etc. (it’s part of her PAID job), but she loves her car and has a social schedule that takes her all over the city in 1 day. So my local psychological “support” for my own daily cycling is talking about broader cycling matters. That alone should not be underestimated.

    However, it seems part of the problem for folks new to a physical activity/sport is in-person support. So those folks gets over it once they get it. Then there are others who simply are more social /derive motivation from others around them.

    I actually don’t like talking much on bike. I want to pay attention to my surroundings –both for safety and enjoyment of nature, weather, etc.. My partner and I don’t have extended conversations while we’re both cycling. Neither of us are really keen on that. We just enjoy unspoken pleasures of cycling together on rides.

    And I had a bike collision, when my partner was only 10 metres cycling ahead of me…on a bike path. Alertness is no.1, socializing while on bike is very secondary/only incidental for a few minutes (ie. under 5-10 min.). This is why I like coffee afterwards….:)

  5. It’s great that you’re going it alone sometimes. I have an affinity for going it alone and have only discovered the joys of working out in groups over the past couple of years. It’s good to be open to both.

    1. I wish I could join up with other women..personally in the area of exercise regularily, it seems to be harder for friendship as one gets older. To me.

  6. I go alone to all the things I do (except riding lessons – that started with my daughter). I have great circles of friends made at each of my activities, though. I often see them outside the pool/lake or dance studio. Each activity has been a great way to get outside my comfort zone by talking to new people.

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