I did it! Back at the gym

I said goodbye to gym in March 9, 2020.

In May 2020 Cate asked, When will you feel okay about going back to the gym?

In response to her question then I said,  “I might ask Meg, the personal trainer I work with, to come visit our backyard in the summer and work with the group of us, including my mother. Between now and next winter, I think I’ll buy some more weights. I’m very happy with my indoor cycling set up and Zwift. We’ve got the TRX. If I had more space I might buy a rowing machine. Bottom line: I’ll proceed pretty cautiously. But I am also pretty privileged in terms of space and workout company at home.”

Update: My household did all that, including buying a rowing machine. And I think the bloggers all proceeded pretty cautiously about returning to indoor workout spaces.

I’ve enjoyed working out during the day and I’ve missed that now I’m back at the office. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so happy to be back in the office. But I miss the activity breaks (hi Cheddar!) I get working at home.

I have plans for office yoga, blog post to follow. And I’ve also rejoined the campus gym.

I love the university TRX classes, specially the shorter lunch hour ones.

I announced my decision to go back on the blog last week. See here.

“The university gym has been open for awhile but it’s only now that I’m happy to go back.

What’s changed?

Well, the university has a vaccine mandate and almost all of our students are fully vaccinated. Those who aren’t will be unenroled from their face to face classes in the week ahead.

You might worry, well I worried that they could still come to the gym, but the province has also enacted a separate vaccine mandate for gyms and fitness facilities. You need to prove your vaccination status to enter the gym.

And because the university’s vaccine mandate includes staff it means that everyone there will be vaccinated. Regular gyms have a vaccine mandate for customers, enacted by our provincial government, but staff don’t have to be vaccinated. Adherence to the new rules isn’t 100% in the big wide world either. Tracy’s former yoga studio is proudly breaking the law.

So today, I did it. I went to the gym. It was great.

I went back to my usual lunchtime TRX class. It’s in a new room, a much much larger room. And there were only four of us there. We got to take off our masks when we were at our station. And once we got started things felt okay, better than okay, good, in fact.

Given the large presence of Zwift and indoor bike racing in my life, likely I won’t go back to university spin classes.

But lifting weights? Indoor personal training once it gets too cold to workout outside? Lunch hour TRX?

I’m in and I’m very happy to be back.

Book Club · Book Reviews · fitness · interview · Rowing

Blog Interview with Tori Murden McClure (author, athlete, adventurer, and administrator!)

Tori Murden McClure is an amazing woman.

She was the first woman and the first American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, which she did in 1999. She was also the first woman and first American to ski to the South Pole and the first woman to climb the Lewis Nunatak in the Antarctic. (See Wikipedia for more.)

McClure is a university president (Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky) and the author of A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean.

Here at the blog, we’re in awe. We read the book. We asked for your questions.

And then I got to interview McClure, courtesy of a blog connection. (Thanks Lauren!)

There’s way too much of me audibly agreeing with McClure in this interview. But it’s the blog’s first video interview. We’ll get better. I promise I’ll never say “right” again.


challenge · cycling · fitness · Zwift

8 days to finish Zwift Academy 2021! Here’s my plan

I have eight days left to finish Zwift Academy 2021. It’s been both easier and harder than in past years. Past years were a mad dash to the finish. It’s been easier to complete and schedule the workouts but I’ve also been finding the workouts themselves tougher. I feel more than a bit out of bike shape after a summer of more low key outdoor pursuits.

I did the last workout, #6, this afternoon. It was supposed to be the afternoon of the Guelph Fall Colours Ride organized by the Guelph Coalition for Active Transit but that was rained out. Instead I hopped on the trainer and slogged through the last of the formal structured workouts.

Zwift Me. Sam’s Avatar doing the workout on her pink Tron bike

Here is Zwift’s description of the workout: “When you attack in a race or surge over a short hill, an intense burn always follows. This workout ensures you’ll hit these types of efforts stronger, pushing through the burn and helping maintain a high pace without fading after each effort. The anaerobic capacity (AC) effort at the start of this workout helps build up high lactate concentrations, essential for building FTP. The 1min rest that follows is enough to help recover adequately so you can complete the workout strong, but it doesn’t leave so much time that lactate concentrations will decrease. The workout is key when it comes to boosting your FTP and tackling longer segments with a higher level of fitness.”

GCAT Fall Colours Ride postponed to the 23rd due to rain

Here’s my riding plan for the next week:

Monday: Casse Pattes course ride over with TFC Dynamite team mates

Tuesday: Race Casse Pattes with TFC Dynamite in the Zwift Racing League

Wednesday: Zwift Academy Recovery Ride

” A Zwift Academy Recovery Ride is a social ride and an essential part of any training plan. Recovering from hard work allows you to adapt and develop. To do this you need to learn how to go easy and that is exactly how you should pace yourself on this ride. You will need to complete at least two recovery rides in order to graduate from Zwift Academy. These rides will be available exclusively in the event calendar so make sure you plan accordingly for these events. One recovery ride will need to be completed during the 1st block and one will need to be completed during the 2nd block to graduate. Recovery rides for block 2 are available from October 3 – October 25 . If you missed completing a recovery ride, recovery rides will also be available during makeups from October 11 – October 25.  Recovery Rides must be done with the group, and cannot be completed alone.”

Thursday race: Team Time Trial with TFC Phantom

Friday rest day

Saturday: Rescheduled Fall Colours Ride

Sunday: Finish Ride

“A Zwift Academy Finish Line ride is specifically designed to capture your gains over the duration of the Academy. It is set up identically to the Baseline Ride and will measure the exact same segments you started the Academy with. Riders are challenged to get PR’s on the segments and ride easy between the segments. There is no drafting and no leader. “

I’ll report back and let you know if I improved!


Happy International Failure Day 2021!

fail better' (samuel becket)
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. –Samuel Beckett

Last month, I wrote about failing small.

Last year, I urged us to mark International Failure Day.

If it’s not obvious, I’m a fan of embracing failure. I think that for many of us–maybe women especially–fear of failing holds us back from trying. Being able to separate self-worth from success at a particular thing is an important lesson. In my university work I’m struck by it in terms of the how much grades matter to the choice of one’s academic major and how much this is divided along gender lines. The short version is that women are much more grade sensitive than men, gravitating to the subjects in which we do best. Men are much more grade resilient. They’ll keep taking a subject, even if they are failing some classes, if it’s the thing they really want to do. Failing a class has a different impact on men that it does on women.

Getting over my fear of failure is part of what’s made sports fun for me as an adult. I remember taking sailing classes at Northwestern University as a graduate student and not caring if we messed up and capsized. My ego was elsewhere! Bring on failure. Likewise, that same attitude made it possible for me to give rowing a try during our ‘fittest by 50’ challenge.

Another perspective is that we should we just ditch ‘failure’ talk altogether. You haven’t failed if you capsized a sailboat. You haven’t failed if you’ve failed one class. I didn’t fail that time I missed a box jump and cut my leg on a wooden box at CrossFit. And so on. Some people find ‘failure’ talk so demoralizing and awful that we should just give it up. I’m less sure about that. I think of it as looking at a failure for what it is, seeing where it fits in the grand scheme of things, seeing what lessons can be learned from it, and moving on.

There’s been a trend in my discipline lately of posting news of rejections (grants and awards we didn’t get, journal articles turned down by reviewer 1 and 2, etc) so that social media isn’t just full of success stories. I like that too. I share some failures there but not all.

How do you feel about failure, both the actual thing and the language we use to talk about it?

WRONG WAY. White print and large red sign. Palm trees poking out above. Photo by Kind and Curious on Unsplash

Sam is going back to the gym

I’m nervous. But I’m going back to the gym this week.

It’s a weird mix of excitement and apprehension to return to the gym after (and I’ve had to count this a few times) nearly 19 months away due to the pandemic.

I said goodbye to the gym in this blog post dated March 9, 2020. It was early days in terms of the pandemic. Gyms were still open.

I was just starting to think about personal risk but also about group effects of our actions during the pandemic, especially for society’s more vulnerable members.

I wrote, “Just remember, it’s not just about you. Jeff makes that point about the larger social good pretty well in the context of conference travel in this blog post over at Boating Adventures.” His focus then was cruise ships. Remember the cruise ships?

I was an early leaver. I remember that. And I’ve been slow to return.

The university gym has been open for awhile but it’s only now that I’m happy to go back.

What’s changed?

Well, the university has a vaccine mandate and almost all of our students are fully vaccinated. Those who aren’t will be unenroled from their face to face classes in the week ahead.

You might worry, well I worried that they could still come to the gym, but the province has also enacted a separate vaccine mandate for gyms and fitness facilities. You need to prove your vaccination status to enter the gym.

And because the university’s vaccine mandate includes staff it means that everyone there will be vaccinated. Regular gyms have a vaccine mandate for customers, enacted by our provincial government, but staff don’t have to be vaccinated. Adherence to the new rules isn’t 100% in the big wide world either. Tracy’s former yoga studio is proudly breaking the law.

Why go back? Weightlifting mostly. I miss the squat rack. It’ll be nice to have a real bench. We’ve been doing backyard personal training but that won’t continue once the snow starts to fall. My son started back at his gym months ago and I miss weightlifting home companionship.

Soon it’ll be me and the students again. I’ve had mixed minds over the years about working out on campus. But you can’t beat the convenience of working out where you work and in terms of covid safety, I don’t think anywhere is better given our strict vaccine mandates.

All reasons point in favour of going back. I’m still not sure how it will feel. I’ll report back.

How about you? You going back to the gym?

A muscular woman, not Sam, standing in front of the squat rack.
cycling · fitness · inclusiveness · weight loss

What’s an argument you’re sick of having?

One of mine is the link between bike riding and weight loss.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE BIKES.

Painting on a building of a stick figure person painted in black lines hanging from a heart painted in red.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I think our cities need more cycling infrastructure. I think safe cycling is a disability rights issue. I think low car cities are feminist cities.

For me, the best holidays involve bikes.

Riding my bike puts a smile on my face.

And I think cycling is good for the planet. Cars are dangerous and polluting the planet. We’d all be better off if people rode and walked more and drove less.

But one of these things is not like the other…

Fewer cars won’t make people lose weight. In fact, what we need to get more people on bikes is a more inclusionary cycling culture. It’s not all thin men in lycra. Sometimes it’s chubby middle aged women in lycra. And sometimes there’s no lycra at all.

Here’s our posts about the lack of a connection between bike riding and weight loss:

Reasons to Ride a Bike (That Don’t Include Weight Loss)

The benefits of exercise are many, but long term weight loss isn’t (necessarily) one of them

“On yer bike” for oh so many reasons, but weight loss isn’t one of them

Big Women on Bikes

“Pretty fast for a big girl”: Notes from the road, #2

(Updated) Plus sized endurance athletes, we exist!

accessibility · challenge · fitness · walking

We’ve made it to Saskatchewan!

We’ve got some fit feminist groups doing the PaarticipACTION challenge this year. You can read about our kick off here. There are at least two teams that I know of. Teams are limited to 8 so we had to break into groups.

My team has made it to Saskatchewan so far.

We’re in Saskatchewan in the ParticipACTION challenge.

So far I’m enjoying the challenge and the hope of winning the team trip to the Yukon. It’s been a good reminder for me to get out and walk everyday. I’m still biking lots too.

With my horrible end stage osteoarthritic knees, I’m never sure how much is too much. Yes, walking hurts but it’s not making things worse and I like being outside and walking with family members and our dogs.

Mallory, Sarah and I are considering a hiking back country camping trip this spring and I’m really curious to see if I can do it. Knee replacement seems to be on hold forever and I’ve got to get on with my life. I’m not sure if I’m just getting used to being in pain or if walking is actually less painful some days.

Here’s galleries from three of my walks since the challenge began!

Walk with London kids after emergency dental visit!
Beautiful fall colours on my morning walk with Cheddar
Mum and me and the dogs walking on one of the Guelph trails
challenge · fall · fitness · season transitions

FIFI has a ParticipACTION team and you can join us!

I don’t know about you but for me the autumn can be challenging activity wise, as I pack up the canoe, and the small sailboat, and there’s no light left in the evenings.

To help with some bonus incentive, I joined the participACTION October challenge and made us a team. Join me?

It’s time to get moving in ParticipACTION’s Team Challenges. Join the Fit is a Feminist Issue team by entering code b3xyfrg in the free ParticipACTION app. Let’s get active together! Make sure you’ve got the latest version of the app:

If the team is full by the time you get there, please feel free to start Fit is a Feminist Issue, 2 and so on. If you do that and you want others to join, pass along your team name and code in the comments. Thanks!


On “cancelling” Canada Day (#tbt, #reblog)

On The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation , we’re re-blogging Cate’s post from July 1 of this year on ‘cancelling’ Canada Day in light of the exposure of unmarked graves of children on the sites of former so-called “residential schools,” cultural assimilation centres for Indigenous children. It seemed like a good post to reread today.


Sarah, Sam and I had dinner together on a patio last Saturday, the first time we’d seen each other in person in a year and a half. It was wonderful and emotional to have them in the flesh, all three of us weathered a bit by the time, the lockdown, the COVID anxiety, the shifts in our moral urgency about our relationship as White people to racism, to structural inequity, and especially, to our identity as settlers. We were talking about the #CancelCanadaDay conversation, and our server overheard us.

“Nope! No Canada Day!” she said, confident about interrupting, emotional. “Not this year. We are finding dead babies everywhere. Just give it a goddamn MINUTE.”

For the non-Canadian readers who haven’t been tracking, unmarked graves of hundreds of children have recently been exposed on the sites of former “residential schools,” cultural assimilation centres for Indigenous children that operated in this country…

View original post 1,555 more words

blog · blogging · fitness · top ten

Top Ten Posts, September 2021, #ICYMI

The two most read posts in September are all about menopause.

Alexis’ review of the Menopause Manifesto was our most read post of the month.

And second was Cate’s chestnut about still menstruating in her 50s.

Third was Cate’s post/rant about media coverage of a doctor claiming that we all need to fit into the same jeans we wore when we were 21, or risk death by diabetes. Bah!

Fourth was another oldie, loved by search engines everywhere on crotch shots and the objectification of women athletes.

Fifth was Alexis’ review of What Fresh Hell is This?.

Sixth was Tracy’s 57th birthday post, reflections on her birthday, what it all means, especially during the pandemic.

Yellow and white floral cake. Happy Birthday! Photo by  Erin Schmerr  on  Scopio

Seventh was A Milestone & Kind Strangers (Guest Post) by Joy.

Grayscale photo of bicycle on grass field. Photo by  yagnik vasani  on  Scopio

Eighth, Catherine wrote about the 10 percent happier app a few months ago.

Ninth, this month Catherine blogged about new research on metabolism.

And our tenth post read was Cate’s story of softening her completist personality while bike riding in Bulgaria.