fitness

Looking ahead …

Ten weeks from now, we will have celebrated the end of 2020 and welcomed the arrival of 2021. Some of us will look at that last page and mark an X across Dec. 31. Goodbye and good riddance to the Year of the Plague.

Image shows a white rectangle on which is printed the calendar page for January 2020. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.

And yet…

I almost always start looking at the first quarter of the new year around this time. New Year’s is preceded by a number of holidays with the result that, unless you are in retail, pretty much everything starts slowing down mid month.

I figure I have eight weeks between Halloween and mid-December to finish up my year and start thinking about what’s coming on the work front, the home front, and the weather front.

I live in Newfoundland and Labrador so it’s not unusual for me to have five coats for six different kinds of weather and an almost equivalent number of boots. Rain boots, almost hip deep snow boots, walking on icy surfaces boots, shoeboots for dry, hard snow days, and sneaker boots for running to and from the car.

I realized in this plague year, I will need just as many metaphorical boots with which to stomp through whatever surprises 2021 chooses to fling at us. Perhaps rather than boots, what we need are mental shields to support our steadfast resilience, to deflect the metaphysical blows winter and the constantly evolving pandemic can bring, and to mirror good things like kindness, community building and love.

Image shows small grey Lego figure holding a shield against a descending sneaker heel. Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

While I might be more than ready to give 2020 the boot, I know these five things will matter more than ever.

I take time for myself and my priorities. I was discussing a work project with a colleague and they mentioned wanting it wrapped up by Dec. 31. I asked how wedded they were to that date. They said they could be flexible and suggested mid January. In past years, I would have worked myself ragged to get everything done by the 20th. This year I want to be sure I have the time I need to enjoy the holidays and the space to spend time with people in my bubble.

I make time to connect. In seven months, we’ve spent a lot of time apart because keeping to our bubble meant we kept the community safe. But being apart doesn’t mean we are out of touch. I’ve had my share of frustrations with social media and the Internet, but it has made it easier to keep in touch with and on top of what’s happening with others. Keeping those threads strong and tightly woven means feeling less alone, less untethered as we are buffeted by the things we cannot control.

I make time to notice what is around me. I hadn’t realized how important this was until I read this article earlier in the week. Written by Rick Hanson, the author of The Anxiety First Aid Kit, the article offers a list of useful suggestions on noticing the good things, the okay things, the all right things. rather then zeroing in on the bits that aren’t working, Hanson suggests focusing on what’s going right. He offers this mantra — I am all right, right now — as a way to focus and calm the anxious state in which we can find ourselves. Hanson concludes his excerpt with this: “Settling into this basic sense of okayness is a powerful way to build well-being and resources in your brain and being, and it’s a way of taking a stand for the truth.”

Image shows a patterned white wall with a pink pegboard rectangle with letters spelling out Kindness Matters. Photo by Dee @ Copper and Wild on Unsplash

I look for opportunities to make things better. There’s a dearth of kindness, of patience, of sharing humanity with others. People’s fuses are short and getting shorter by the day. It’s hard to smile when you are always wearing a mask. But there is still stuff you can do. This past fall, I’ve been having some problems with my car. I went to buy some oil, but forgot what kind I was supposed to get. The young fellow serving me said let’s go take a look and see what is written on the cap. He could have suggested I google it; he could have said he didn’t know. Instead he took time to explain in a kind way how I could find the information in the future should I forget again. Being kind takes little effort and makes such a difference.

I will always stand up. When I approach the squat bar, I know it is my training and committment that will ensure I will get back up, not just those words my trainer has stencilled there. I look at our world and I wonder how we manage to always get back up.

Sometimes I feel our kindness or humanity is like a muscle that has been supplanted — maybe by fear, anger, anxiety, an injury — who knows. But like any muscle, you can make it stronger by working it gently and consistently; you can repair it by training it carefully and thoughtfully.

Whether you call it practicing, training, coaching, or learning, making kindness a purposeful habit is really useful. Couple that with standing up for your values and your community. When I look back at 2020, it will be these insights I will focus on. What will you take from 2020 to keep you well in 2021?

MarthaFitat55 enjoys powerlifting, swimming and yoga. A longtime mental health advocate, Martha has spent considerable time this year thinking about how we can work on our mental fitness and maintain our mental wellness.

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20 life lessons for 2020 and more …

I recently had a birthday and reposted an edited version of a column I first wrote when I was turning 50. There’s nothing I would change almost 10 years later except do/use/see more of what I love. Or as my friend Wendy Williams often said to me when I worked with her: “If you aren’t good enough for your best china, who is?”

Image shows a tea cup with tea, surrounded by flowers and a book. Photo by Loverna Journey on Unsplash

SamB who encourages me in all the things suggested it was worth sharing on the blog so here you have 20 life lessons from Martha.

1. Life isn’t a to do list. Create a bucket list if you like but don’t be so focused on the end that you forget to enjoy the road to your destination.

2. Life is sometimes saying to heck with the list and spending time with a loved one. Even if you have to burn the midnight oil later.

3. Letting go isn’t about losing things. Letting go is about making room for something new.

4. Life is knowing that no matter where you are, the people you love will always live in your heart.

5. Three squares a day does not mean brownies, Nanaimo bars and date crumbles (even if they do have dairy, fruit, and grains).

6. Mom was right when she said eat your veggies. Dad was right when he said reading was important. One feeds your body; the other feeds your soul.

7. If you do your best, people may not notice. If you do your worst, they surely will.

8. Being a grown-up can be fun. Yet when something you do is no longer fun, stop doing it. Remember there’s a difference in having to do something and wanting to do it. One breeds resentment; the other sustains a feeling of accomplishment.

9. Make sure your goals and dreams give you a sense of purpose you can live with. Know your limits. But don’t aim low, either.

10. Don’t expect others to take care of you but don’t be afraid to ask when you need help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

11. Chocolate may help when things are tough, but friends are better. Have someone in your life — be they your family, your friend or your partner — that you can call at 2 am and say, “Help me.” Be that person for someone else.

12. Remember, there is nothing so big that you have to carry it all by yourself. There is no problem that doesn’t have some kind of solution that will help make things better. Starting with a cup of tea always helps. Making cookies doesn’t hurt either.

13. There is beauty in the smallest object. Flowers, even a dandelion and buttercups stuck in a juice glass, add something to your day.

14. Be connected to nature. Walking in the rain won’t cause you to melt.

15. Building a snowman, no matter what your age, is always an opportunity to be creative.

16. Be an explorer. Travelling doesn’t mean having to leave your city or country. It can mean leaving your neighbourhood to see what’s just beyond the next block.

17. It is amazing what laughing every day will do to change your outlook.

18. Focusing on what you have is always better than brooding on what you don’t.

19. Change is always possible, and in many cases, usually necessary.

20. Achieving perfection isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Joy, on the other hand, is.

How about you? What life lessons have you learned? Please share in the comments!

MarthaFitat55 is a writer, powerlifter in training, occasional yoga, and sometime swimmer.

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Sexism, racism, and fear of successful women: the future of women in sport and the Caster Semenya decision

A few weeks ago, I was quite disappointed to see that the Swiss Supreme Court had denied Caster Semenya’s appeal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision to require her (and other female athletes with excess testosterone) to medically modify their hormonal makeup with either drugs or surgery.

We have written previously about the trials Semenya has faced and what it means for women in sport. This post looks at sex tests, this one is a round up of arguments and opinion pieces about the research used to support the CAS and other sports agencies’ decisions, and this one looked at Semenya’s future as a runner in her chosen race length. Back in 2016, Tracy Isaacs looked at the issue from the perspective of body policing and sports performance.

There’s been a lot written about Semenya. Curiously, while the courts and the governing bodies rule against Semenya, there are many in the sports world as well as the community at large who see the decisions taken against Semenya as clear, transparent examples of sexism and racism. I would also argue that underlying these decisions is a fear of successful women, and the way these sports bodies manage that fear is to other-ise and marginalize those who do not fit an outdated image of women in sport through legal challenges and unfounded medical policies.

We can start with Semenya’s own statement about the decision. She says she “refuse(s) to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am. Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history. I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere.”

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport released a very strong statement Sept. 23, 2020 condemning the decision and echoing Semenya’s position. Paul Melia, the CCES president and CEO, said “I think it is time for the sport community to reexamine its approach to sport categorization. When we ignore what we know about the broad spectrum of human experience in the area of biological sex and gender identity we risk violating the human rights of the people who do not fit an obsolete definition of a biological female. We cannot then turn around and justify the harm in the name of fairness.”

Semenya has once before used contraceptives to adjust her hormone levels and she has said the medications affected her performance and her general well being. She has said she will not consider further medical intervention including surgery. Individuals wishing to use such drugs to manage contraceptive needs or to manage hormone levels are well advised to consider the risks associated with birth control pills, including stroke and other cardio vascular events, as well as increased risk for certain cancers.

Medically and ethically speaking, why is it appropriate to subject an athlete to medically unnecessary treatment solely to meet an arbitrary benchmark for hormone levels?

David Epstein, writing for Slate, describes in this recent piece the evolution of his thinking about Semenya and the decisions to keep her out of certain track and field events unless she agrees to medical alteration to reduce what the World Athletic organization has determined is an unfair advantage against other women. Initially Epstein supported the arguments put forth by the WA; today he says he is not so sure.

Epstein says: “Our society—and, as a consequence, our sports—hasn’t been set up to accommodate gender-nonconforming individuals. That is not fair or just, and it puts us in the impossible position of selecting which kind of unfairness and injustice we believe is the least harmful to the fewest individuals.”

Epstein notes the processes used by the WA to categorize athletes has been abysmal and inhumane and he argues for more balance and flexibility. Even the Court of Arbitration for Sport understands its ruling is fundamentally unfair to athletes like Semenya. The CAS says “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring fair competition in female athletics in certain events and protecting the ‘protected class’ of female athletes in those events.”

But is it really fair? No, it is not. It is also a violation of Semenya’s human rights. Human Rights Watch added to the debate with its post Sept. 8, 2020 saying, “Men athletes are subject to no such surveillance or compelled medical tests. There is no clear scientific consensus that women with naturally occurring higher-than-typical testosterone have a performance advantage in athletics. For these women athletes, being compelled to undergo a medical examination can be humiliating and medically unnecessary, as well as disrespectful of their rights. The post reported the Swiss Court recognized it was violating Semenya’s rights, but insisted upholding the track and field agency’s discriminatory practices was not inconsistent with Swiss public policy.

Marcie Bianco, writing for NBC, says the decision against Semenya is discrimination. Bianco went further and characterized the decision as abuse: “Legislated, medicalized, regulated — these various forms of systemized control are nothing short of abuse and absolutely impugn Semenya’s “human dignity,” contrary to the Swiss court’s gaslighting claim that its ruling did not undermine the runner’s “guarantee of human dignity.””

Bianco also goes on to say the decision by the Swiss Court is a form of gaslighting, one which weaponizes the language of fairness, equality, and protection for women. She points out the key contradiction in the Swiss decision: “The language of “fairness” is stunning since competition is not fair, and fairness is not the objective of any competition. (Why, for example, was Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps not barred from competition for his various “physical advantages,” including his disproportionate wingspan, double-jointedness, and low lactic-acid levels?)”

Michael Phelps is a good example. Other people have argued that Phelp’s can’t help his height, or other physical attributes, but no one has suggested he medically alter his low lactic acid levels medically to level the playing field.

The fact is Phelps is white and Semenya is black. Bianco points out most clearly the racist underpinnings of the arguments against Semenya: “When women — especially Black women — are too good, when their excellence threatens men, these men will do anything to steal that power, including positioning themselves as the saviors of “equal rights” and “fairness” for white women. This language is about dehumanizing black women in order to delegitimize their excellence, no matter their testosterone levels — if the decades of racist dog-whistling against Serena William’s excellence isn’t a firm case-in-point.”

Dawn Ennis, writing for Forbes, said the launch of the #LetHerRun movement is focused on pressuring the WA to change its policies. Led by the first Brazilian gold medalists , Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires, the movement was launched with a film, #LetHerRun documenting the sexism and abuse of sex testing and body inspections. Silva said “Caster’s case deserves our attention because it affects the destiny of dozens of other athletes who will have their careers ended prematurely simply because they were born out of the standards imposed by technocrats from a regulatory agency. (…) Why hasn’t the natural hormone production invalidated any male career ever? Has anyone stopped to compare Usain Bolt’s levels of testosterone to those of Justin Gatlin, for instance?””

Forcing women who don’t conform to stereotypical expectations of femaleness to alter their physiology is abuse. Being selective about the research used to support an approach reveals inherent biases and supports discriminatory practices on the basis of sex and race. Caster Semenya’s legal battles will continue to influence the trajectory of women in sport as the decision by the Swiss Court still leaves many questions unanswered.

-MarthaFitat55 writes from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Hydration is more than water …

I have a lovely collection of water bottles and carafes. I stash them all over the house, so where ever I go, I always have water handy. These past few years, we have been experiencing uncharacteristically humid spells and maintaining myself adequately hydrated hasn’t always been easy.

Image shows turquoise-coloured water droplets splashing upward. Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

I have tried the phone beeps, the Fitbit buzzes, the water challenges with my peers, and even a post it note on the shelf at eye-level commanding me to DRINK!

I have friends who swear by drinking a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon (others squeeze the juice of a whole lemon) first thing before breakfast. If I drink anything hot in the morning, it’s coffee. While I love lemon, hot water is not my thing. I also can’t drink water with ice unless I have a straw, so several of my water carafes have built in straws.

When I first started training, I did show up with a water bottle because I knew I was going to get hot and sweaty. I used to run (I once signed up for a ten kilometre race except it turned out to be a ten mile race) and water was really critical. I’m not a fan of sports drinks generally (although I have found a brand and a flavour that I love).

I got to thinking about how much water we should be drinking. Most of the health apps have a water calculator so you can check off your eight 8oz glasses daily. Where did that come from? According to the Mayo Clinic, it was the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that came up with the recommendation that on average, living in a temperate climate, men should drink almost 16 cups and women should drink almost 12.

But that’s an average. Some people need more and some people need less. If your weather is excessively hot, or you are a very active person, you may need more.

Also, about 20% of that water comes from food and other beverages. Hence the simple reminder about eight glasses daily. Water helps flush your system (no need to spend money on fancy cleanses!) and keeps all your body chemicals balanced. You can drink too much water and you can also drink too little. My system of three to four bottles, while a little cluttery on table tops, does remind me of how much I have consumed, and if I should drink a little more to keep myself properly hydrated.

How about you readers? What tips do you use to keep your fluid intake level and optimal? Please share in the comments.

MarthaFitat55 is writer who likes ppowelifting, yoga and swimming.

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Fall fitness goals

Fall is my favourite time of year. There’s often no humidity to deal with. The temperature is pleasant and the wind is manageable. I like to walk in the fall — it gives me a chance to see the changing landscape and to think about what my plans are for the year ahead. (The calendar may say January is the start of the new year, but in my head and heart, the new year always begins now.)

I usually like to walk with purpose — let’s go from Point A to Point B and collect the mail, or get some milk, or feed the ducks. This past summer, quite a number of my friends started virtual challenges: crossing the province, walking the Camino in Spain, traversing South America.

It’s similar to Fitbit’s equating various steps achieved to having walked all of London’s tube network, or crossed the Sahara desert. Unlike Fitbit, the virtual challenges are set before you start out, instead of being award after the fact.

Given that travel is still a no go option for me, I have thought about choosing one of these challenges as a way to travel virtually with minimal risk and (hopefully) maximum benefit (yay!).

I’ve discovered over the past few years of consistently training that I like things explained or set up visually. I can remember exercises or movements if I associate them with a creature or a place.

Consequently, I can act like a sphinx, a pelican, or a tree one day and the next I’m waving my arms like Spiderman throwing webs all over the place or I am carrying all the groceries in one go for my farmer’s walk. When it comes to deadlifting, I have balanced seals, mountain lions and a few deer for excitement.

The appeal of a virtual walking challenge is that I have a goal (beyond getting the mail or milk). So I’m checking out a few apps, many of which can be synced to my Fitbit. I can be on my own or I can join a team. There are lots of options — do I want to walk the Ring of Kerry, hike along Hadrian’s Wall, or follow in the steps of ancestors along the Camino?

I’ll let you know next month. Have any of you tried these challenges? let us know in the comments.

MarthaFitat55 lives and walks in St. John’s .

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Finding my happy place


This week I took off for the wilderness. Actually it was a very nice little house my friend lent me so I could enjoy a summer escape.

While it had all the amenities that matter — hot water, fans, ice — it didn’t have wifi (hence the reference to wilderness). 

I didn’t mind. My goal was to unplug, read, write, walk and sew. 

For the most part I got what I wanted. I read four books, I finished cutting out a quilt, and I started sewing blocks (66 of 90 completed — yay me). I wrote an article, made several lists, and planned out my fall. I fit in a couple of beautiful walks and I also kept moving by sewing, cutting and ironing in different parts of the room. 

I was surprised by how much I got done. Not checking email, Twitter or Facebook saved me a large chunk of time. Not being on the phone or taking part in any zoom calls also put a nice deposit in the me time bank account. 

My trainer is very fond of telling me how important rest is for fitness. Most of the time I focus on maintaining good sleep habits. This brief escape though showed me I also needed to rest my mind and also learn what if feels like when I set the agenda completely. 

I already share out tasks in daily living. Meal planning each week to manage has also saved me time. I never realized though how much time I spend managing stuff. 

It was a useful lesson to kick off adopting a new habit — meditation. I’m learning how to filter out the chaff and focus on the stuff that matters. I’ve not actively meditated before so I’m open to seeing how it may calm the jumble in my head. 

One of my favourite things to do is watch the waves roll in. I took the picture above to remind me of the sense of calm the ocean brings to me.

What are your favourite ways to turn off the demands in your life? Feel free to share in the comments. 

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Row, row, row your boat

Image shows a six-seater boat on the pond with the oars up, rowers and coxswain at the ready.

Two days ago, had COVID-19 not intervened, our annual Regatta would have gone ahead.

I was lucky enough to row with a team for two years in the Regatta, almost 15 years ago now. We acquitted ourselves well on the water and it’s one of the many fitness experiences I’ve had that I treasure.

There was lots of discussion about the Regatta’s absence this year, and it gave me a chance to recall good memories and to reflect on some important lessons.

The first is teamwork matters. Our success in the boat depended on all six of us pulling together with our cox’s direction. There’s no room in a boat for a diva, or as my friend puts it, there’s no shade where you can hide. We would be successful because we all worked together. In looking at my work life, the most successful projects have been so because we had a shared vision of what we wanted to achieve and we were committed to it.

The second is that we had one job. That was to make the boat go as fast as it could when it needed to. While where we sat in the boat gave us certain responsibilities — steering, setting the pace, handling the turn — we all rowed in unison and in the same direction. Our commitment to performing that role well made a difference in the outcome. If one of us lost an oar, we learned how to get it back and hit the water in time for the next stroke. We bring different skills and knowledge to a project and that matters. At certain points though, there’s only one outcome and the work you do has to take you there and not somewhere else.

Third, balance is critical. My team mates and I came in all shapes and sizes — tall and short, lithe and muscular, curvy and lean. Our first month in the boat meant playing around with seating to get the balance right so that when we really rowed in earnest, we were each in the best place to achieve our goal. So too with work. If I look back at some of the projects which had good results instead of spectacular ones, I realized it’s because we didn’t have the right mix — too much of one kind of skill and not enough of another.

Finally, we had fun. Rowing is hard work, but we also had fun together. We took time to celebrate milestones, to give high fives, to go out together and be social. If all you do is work hard, and you don’t stop to see the good things and to do the fun things, work becomes meaningless. I worked with a very wise woman once who told me when things stop being fun, it is time to give them up. There may be times you may have to step back and gain perspective, or you may have to leave altogether. Work can be hard; the issues can be challenging; the process can be difficult. But you have to make space for the joyful and the affirmative.

Although I don’t row today except on an erg, I look at the work I have put in over the last few years in powerlifting, and I can see all four of these lessons as key to my continued success. I can also see the role these lessons have played in my work success. What lessons have you learned from your sport(s) or fitness activities?

— MarthaFitat55 lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Being honest with yourself about sleep and self care

SamB shared a fun meme this week, and it resonated deeply.

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The picture has a bowl of chocolate ice cream and the caption reads “Be honest with yourself: are you getting enough rest and are you eating enough ice cream?”

Now set aside issues regarding dairy and sweets and think about the message in this meme.

First are you getting enough rest? Probably not. I know I haven’t been getting my full complement. Part of it stems from needing to get stuff done. Often I look to the three hours after everyone has gone to sleep as my own time. I recently discovered this concept has a name: Revenge bed time procrastination. The literal translation from the Chinese calls it “suffering through the night vengefully.”

Daphne Lee at the Greatist says revenge bedtime procrastination is “a type of compensation, a psychological strategy that allows people to redirect their frustrations and insecurities.”

An interesting idea but I’m still not getting enough sleep. I’m on a mini vacation this week so I am sleep training myself and taking naps to recoup.

There is a lot of work to do on many fronts and I realized that not getting enough sleep is the direct line to burnout city. If I am a crispy critter I’m prone to poor decision making and in my fitness work, that leads to injury.

As to the ice cream part, that is a different story. We often use food, and treats like ice cream to self soothe. It’s been a stressful year. If the pandemic weren’t bad enough, daily I hear news that dismays, terrifies, and immobilizes.

Things like Murder hornets. Overly aggressive rats. Swarms of flying ants. Deer and goats run amok.

I digress. The point is self care matters. A little ice cream won’t do you any harm. If that’s not your jam, maybe a bike ride, or a walk in the woods, really anything that will take out if the weirdness that represents 2020.

I read that self care is a privilege, and for some aspects of self care like a pedicure, or a massage, the lack of economic security can make self care of that sort seem impossible.

I’ve also seen suggestions that not reading the news or stepping away from an issue is also privilege, and yes, it can be.  However, burnout  is a risk and poor mental health as a result of overwhelm is nothing to joke about.

So have a nap and enjoy your treat. As for me, there is a bright red chair waiting for me so I can sit and watch the clouds go by. And I’m hoping later, after a walk, there will be pie.

Martha fit at 55 likes long walks on the beach with the wind at her back.

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Going back to the gym (the not quite aftertimes story)

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Image shows two worn dumbells with white lettering against a grey background. Photo by Cyril Saulnier on Unsplash

We’ve reached more than 30 days without an active case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. My province is at level 2 in its COVID-19 reopening plans and the Atlantic bubble opens tomorrow.

I haven’t been to a gym environment since March 18, more than three and a half months.

During the lockdown, I kept moving but not in any focused way with a dedicated time slot for physical exercise.

And I was okay with that. I have been sidelined before by injuries to my hip and shoulder and I have learned to incorporate conscious movement throughout my day to compensate.

Mostly I tried skipping and yoga stretches. Now that summer is here, walking is on the agenda. If I get an appointment for my bike before the snow flies in the fall, I might get back to learning how to ride again.

But I miss the gym. I miss lifting things. I miss the chalk. I miss the bars. More than anything I miss pushing myself to do more.

I don’t really miss other people in the gym.

I realize that for me to go back to a regular gym, it will have to look very different. At my last gym, there were too many people around. I realize that too many people in my space now are more than distractions; they are sources of worry and fear. I don’t find it uplifting or motivating.

With life resuming a new pace and businesses reopening, things are different. There is a greater expectation for trust. I worked in public health for 10 years. I know what we all need to do to prevent infection and its spread. I know we have to rely on community commitment, but I also know we have to mitigate risk.

Gyms are great places for germs. Not everyone was careful about wiping down equipment in a couple of gyms I had memberships in during the before times.

It was one of the reasons I went with private training in private gyms. More control. Less worry. Less fear.

As our lives open up, we still need to be careful. My trainer is looking at options. What isn’t optional is maintaining a clean and safe space. We share that value and it makes me very happy.

The pandemic has taught me that it’s not about having access to all the wonderful equipment (you can actually do a lot with basic tools). What I really want is the direction, the instruction, the practice of training.

While I won’t be going back to a conventional gym any time soon, perhaps not at all, I know I am ready to train, to claim my time for conscious physical effort. In business there’s a saying: if 80 per cent of success is showing up, then 20 per cent is following through. When I think about the last four months, I think about the things we have lost. And yet we have also been given many other things — appreciation for boundaries, recognition of community and individual priorities, and respect for patience and peace.

Those have been good lessons and they are ones I can take with me every time I can step up to the bar. I’m ready now, to show up and to follow through. It will be different and that’s okay.

— MarthaFitat55 is a writer who trains as a powerlifter and moonlights with yoga and swimming.

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Seeking inspiration

Many of my friends have been adapting their living spaces during the pandemic to allow them to work from home. First seen as a temporary measure, work from home is becoming a permanent option as companies and employees look forward to the next two years.

It’s not just about working from home but also working out from home. From yoga and high-intensity routines to creatively modifying everyday objects for gym equipment, our homes are segmented into zones for living, working, exercising, gardening, crafting, and oh yes, baking.

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My kitchen currently has this poster Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake (shown above), playing off the old British war slogan Keep Calm and Carry On. Quilting friends have signs on their sewing room doors indicating a variety of moods. This one is my favourite:

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So it occurred to me if I was redesigning one of my corners to manage my workout equipment (yoga mat, skipping ropes, stretch bands, yoga bricks etc), what inspiration would I like to see to give me a smile and a positive nudge?

Most of what I found is rather “bro” in focus: Beast Mode; No Excuses; No Pain, No Gain etc. I’m not keen on those that use body shaming, guilt, or alcohol, and if you do find any featuring women, they tend to rely on thin, blond, ultra feminine presenting humans to sell a message (which is okay for those who see themselves there but not for me).

Many are also quite funny in a gentle way like this one, which combines my love of pie and coffee:

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However, it doesn’t get to affirming my choice to move consciously and work my body in a challenging way. I thought I would ask you, dear readers, what would you find positive, feminist and inspirational to hang on your walls in your workout space?

MarthaFitat55 lives in St. John’s.