One 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?