The dominant media theme around the end of 2016 has certainly been “Good riddance!”. But when you look more closely, the news is (almost) never all bad.
Serena Williams almost broke Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record this year. She keeps demonstrating her prowess as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Also, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. That’s pretty much a miracle.
On the local Fit is a Feminist Issue front, some of our bloggers have thoughts to share about their fitness year in review 2016. Here are some of our stories:
My favourite thing of 2016 was the Niagara Falls Women’s Half marathon. It wasn’t because of my time or anything like that (though I did run a half marathon personal best), but because of the good vibe and how much I enjoy training for a running event! The Niagara Falls Women’s half is so much fun anyway, and this year I managed to recruit Anita, Rebecca, Helia, Julie, and Violetta to do it too. Here’s our group report.
Having a straight running event as my 2016 highlight helps me feel good about my decision not to do triathlon in 2017 and instead to focus on running, with some yoga, swimming, and resistance training for variety.
I did lots else in 2016 that I feel good about. See my year recap here.
Finally, I’m excited about the book Sam and I wrote and that’s coming out in the fall. We will keep you posted on Fit Is a Feminist Issue: Our Journey to Fitness at Midlife.
2016 is the year I learned to hit people! That was my most surprising fitness lesson of the year. It’s a lesson I learned in boxing workouts, at Newgirls Boxing Club, but it really paid off in Aikido.
In Aikido we train with partners. All of our techniques are defensive techniques and the way you practice them is that one partner starts out striking (there are a variety of different strikes and hitting styles) and the person practicing the technique defends themself against the strike.
I’ve struggled for awhile with being a less than great training partner. I don’t put enough energy into my attack and since Aikido works by using the attacker’s energy and efforts against them, gentle timid me can be not so fun to play with. It also hurts me receiving the technique because I often don’t give people enough energy to throw me. Training with me can be like an exercise in learning to defend yourself from attacks by slow moving, gentle people. It still works but it’s not as much fun. You can train how to get a drunken friend behaving badly to the ground, but probably not someone who is actually trying to hurt you.
You see the thing is, I’m not good at hurting people. I worry a lot about hurting people. I’m big and I’m strong and that’s all bundled up with a lot of female socialization into the ways of the meek and the mild. The thing is though, when I’m training with brown and black belts, I shouldn’t actually be worrying about hurting them. Mostly I don’t stand a chance. (There’s a club joke that if you actually succeed in hitting one of them, they owe you $5.)
So this year when I started hanging out at Newsgirls on and off, I got some practice (lots of practice) in punching. All the different kinds of punching. I can’t say that I had some breakthrough or that all of a sudden things changed. Mostly I think it’s body learning, not brain learning. But I do know that when I got back on the Aikido mats, I surprised people with the energy I was putting into my punches. I realized that most of the men started Aikido already knowing how to throw a decent punch. I didn’t. I had to be taught. But I’m glad I know how.
You can read more about my experiences here.
I think 2016 was the year I finally settled into a real felt sense of being “athletic”. Until now, I have often still felt like a faker, starting things, going for a while and stopping before I got “good” at it. But I have recognized this year that my starting and stopping is actually part of the rhythm of my life. I get to a point and perhaps go a little over the edge. I recover and I start again, ahead of where I was when I started the last time.
I feel like I have lots of capacity and I have lots of core fitness that shows itself in ways I never noticed before. I can tromp through the woods for hours and hours without a thought. I can venture out on trails on rented bikes and not worry about how far I can go. I can climb big hills on foot or bike. I can carry my laundry and huge pots of soup without thinking. That’s fitness for me and I’m so grateful to this community in particular for keeping me going.
For me, the shock of 2016 happened the morning of 9 November. Not because I awoke to find Donald Trump the president elect of the United States (though that was a shock to me), but because that morning I stepped on the scale at my rheumatologist’s office and saw the number 172 blink back at me. And I wasn’t fussed! I realised why I weighed that much, that my body felt good and strong, and that the number correlated to my strong, beautiful body – that the number was correct and good and normal, not too high, ‘fat’, a mark of failure. My doctor noticed the same thing, and I left her office feeling more empowered than I ever could have imagined after being weighed for medical purposes (or any purpose, really).
You can read my full reflections on this experience here on the blog, but for this year end snapshot let me just say that I remain firm in my conviction that all of us, regardless of body shape or size, and regardless of whether or not we use scales in our fitness and wellness measurements, need to own the space we take up, and be proud of every inch of it. Only with such pride and ownership can we take back, in 2017, something of what 2016 took from us. Peace!
When I think back on 2016, it strikes me as a year of fitness struggle: struggle with injuries, added weight and the logistical and psychological effects of it, and continued adjustment to big changes in my personal life. It also strikes me as a year marked more by what I didn’t do than what I did do. I didn’t do the PWA Toronto-to-Montreal bike rally with Samantha, Natalie, Susan, Cate and others (knee problems and not enough-to-me training). I also stopped playing team squash (same knee problem).
However, memory is profoundly fallible, as we read all the time. Luckily, there’s an actual record of what my 2016 was like, fitness/activity-wise: my blog posts. So I looked at them.
Wow—what a year I had! I did a ton of cool things, like these:
- Kayak course in Casco Bay, Maine
- Costume Cyclocross Race in New Hamphshire
- Ropes Yoga around the corner from my house
- Jingle Ride and Christmas caroling in Boston (not yet blogged about)
- Forcing my sister and family to hike and bike in the Southwest
- Rejoining friends on group rides on and off-road
- Incorporating walking more in my daily life
- Buying the Brompton travel bike I’ve wanted for ages
Looking at those posts and thinking about my feelings about 2016, the big realization for me is that I’m no longer a solo athlete. I used to love getting out on my bike by myself or walking alone in a state park or woodsy area. But these days I seem to need or want the company of others in my fitness activities. I’m lucky to have lots of friends who are happy to ride, walk, hike, paddle, and do downward facing dog with me just about any time I want. Thanks, friends! You are the best!
2017, therefore, will be the year that I move forward with this new knowledge that I prefer moving in packs (at least packs of two). It will take more planning and I have to adjust to less autonomy and more social commitment. I’ll be blogging about it as I go.
So readers, how would you describe the year in fitness 2016 for you? We’d love to hear from you.