accessibility · disability · diversity · equality · holiday fitness · holidays · inclusiveness · meditation · self care

Making Space 2022: Day 3

This post has a lot of different things crammed into it, kind of like an average December day. I tried to make them into a somewhat coherent whole but I’m not sure it worked. Let’s roll with it anyway.

On Day 3 of her 2020 Wellness Calendar, Martha telling us to Remember to Eat. This is another one of the basic that we often let slide during this busy month. We don’t feel like we have time to sit down for a proper meal so we just grab a snack and the next thing we’re cranky and running on empty. While I get that this kind of thing will happen from time to time, please do what you can to prepare in advance. That might look like making a plan about when you will take downtime for meals or it might look like planning for something quick to eat while you are on the run.

Speaking of all the busyness of the month ahead, one of the ways I’d like you to create space for yourself today is by ditching something from your to do list.

I know that sounds like heresy when there is SoVeryMuch to do but that’s exactly why it is a good idea.

Have a look at your to do list -whether that is on paper, on a screen, or in your head and turn your attention either to the list of stuff that you will do ‘if I have time’ or to anything on your list that you are absolutely dreading.

I would like you to ditch (or at least change) one of those things.

Yes, decide right now that you are not going to do it.

If it is something on your ‘if I have time’ list, then you will be able to create a little extra quiet in your brain. You will have one less thing that can float up to fill any downtime you are trying to create for yourself. And you will feel better about not doing it if it is a decision instead of a lack of time.

If it is something that you are dreading but that you really feel needs to be done, I’m wondering if you might be able to pass it on to someone else. Could there be someone in your life who would happily take that on – maybe not exactly in the same way you do but that’s fine too. Perhaps there’s someone you can pay to do it. Maybe you can trade disagreeable tasks with someone else. Or, maybe the task itself can be changed, reduced, or reshaped to make it less dreadful.

And, I realize that in one of the paragraphs above I told you to add something to your to do list (plan for your meals) and then immediately afterwards I told you to ditch something from your list. I stand by that apparent contradiction.

Adding things to your to do list that increase your well-being and your ability to take good care of yourself are more likely to reduce your stress than increase it. Taking good care of yourself increases your capacity to enjoy the rest of the preparations that you choose to include in your month and to keep the things you *must* do in perspective.

When I prepared last year’s Making Space posts I tried to include videos of people with a range of body types and abilities. I was moderately successful but I am determined to improve things for this year.

Since today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities I wanted to be sure to be open about my intention to be inclusive and to invite anyone who reads this to share any videos that they find useful. I don’t always know what search terms to use and I may be missing excellent videos because my vocabulary is limited.

These Making Space posts are not exactly the forum for an in-depth discussion of these issues but since I have your attention, I wanted you to know that the theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.”

I don’t think that my posts here are at all part of that sort of broad change but hopefully I can at least raise some awareness about today and give some of my readers something to think about.

I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about disability activism but some things things I do know are 1) every person on earth has the right to live with dignity 2) change depends on listening to those with lived experience 3) any practice, policy, or accommodation that increases accessibility, diversity, and inclusion is a good thing for everyone who makes use of the service/visits the building/ participates in the activity – an inclusive world is a better world 4) inclusive practices are not about catering to anyone or providing special treatment, they are about creating a more just world.

And I think we can all be part of that change by seeking more just and equitable practices in our organizations, workplaces, and daily lives.

Okay, back to the stated purpose of the Making Space 2022 posts: short workouts and meditations to help create space for yourself on your to do list!

A video entitled ‘7 Minute – No Equipment Workout – Ella’s Wheelchair Workout- Video 40’ from Ella Beaumont, she is wearing a orange tank top, has her hair pulled back in a ponytail and she is in her wheelchair in her living room. Behind her is a couch lined with multi-coloured pillows and a bookshelf filled with books and knick-knacks.

If you’re not feeling up to a workout today, perhaps this meditation from Headspace might be just the thing.

A video from the Headspace YouTube channel called ‘Feeling Overwhelmed? Try This Quick Meditation.’ The still image shows an orange rectangle in the upper left corner that encloses the word ‘Meditation:’ in white and blue text below that reads ‘Feeling Overwhelmed SOS’ on the right side of the screen is a cartoon image of an orange bucket that is overflowing with drops of blue liquid falling from the side into a blue puddle below.

However you choose to take good care of yourself today, I wish you ease in the process.

Please practice self-kindness.

body image · diversity · fitness

Love Your Body

By Martha Muzychka

Bodies



Look at all the lovely bodies. All kinds of shapes and all kinds of sizes!

I saw this display of of pre classic bodies and my heart skipped a beat.

Look how different they all are. Each tells a story.

These days we are so focused on hyper skinny shapes, we forget our round parts, our squishy bits, our mom soft bellies, our strong arms and open hearts that hug and hold and work and soothe and love.

Love yourself today. Celebrate what your body is and what it does.

No one else will do it for you.

beach body · body image · diversity · fitness · inclusiveness · normative bodies · objectification · sexism

Inclusive objectification anyone?

Image description: Four panels each depicting a 2022 Sports Illustrated cover from one of the four versions of the 2022 SI Swimsuit Issue, from right to left Kim Kardashian, Ciara, Maye Musk, and Yumi Nu. Image from https://swimsuit.si.com/swimnews/sports-illustrated-swimsuit-2022-cover-models-kim-kardashian-ciara-maye-musk-yumi-nu

Every time the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue makes the news, I am newly and naively amazed that it still exists at all. In 2017 it made the news because it included a 63 year-old Christie Brinkley in a red bikini. I got on my high horse about that here: “Because if Christie Brinkley can pull it off so can anyone, right?”

That same year everyone applauded SI for including Hunter McGrady, whose fulsome curves defied the usual Swimsuit Issue body-type. Her inclusion was celebrated as a “breath of fresh air,” and I wondered whether anything having to do with the SI swimsuit issue is really a breath of fresh air. I don’t really think so, even if Hunter McGrady claims to be doing this not just for herself, but “but for every woman out there who has ever felt uncomfortable in their body and who wants and needs to know that you are sexy.” The same issue also included Serena Williams, a world-class athlete, to “prove” (to whom?) that a woman can be both sexy and athletic.

So this year we have a kind of repeat of all those themes — you can be curvaceous or in your seventies or have an unexpected “background” (their code for race or for ethnicity) and still we want to objectify you as a sexual object in one of our most popular issues of the year!

The editor in chief of this issue, MJ Day, doesn’t put it quite like that of course. Day says:

“We all deserve the chance to evolve. So in this issue, we encourage readers to see these models as we see them: multifaceted, multitalented—and sexy while they’re at it. The world may label them one way, but we want to focus our lens on all the ways they see themselves and how they own who they are. No matter your age, whether you’re a new mom, partner, sister, entertainer, athlete, entrepreneur, advocate, student, mentor, role model, leader or dreamer—or all of the above—we want to celebrate these women, their evolution and the many dimensions of who they are.”

(from https://swimsuit.si.com/swimnews/sports-illustrated-swimsuit-2022-cover-models-kim-kardashian-ciara-maye-musk-yumi-nu)

But in the end, despite all of their many dimensions and talents, these women are just reduced to their sexy-factor. I should note that I am not opposed to sexiness. I and several of us from the blog have been open about our boudoir photo shoots. What gets me with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is the context. This is a magazine historically designed by men for men. And its main purpose is to cover sports news. What, I ask, do women in swim suits have to do with sports news and for whom are they striking sexy poses? If they want to do it “for themselves” they can do a boudoir photo shoot.

Instead of celebrating the objectification of an ever more inclusive range of women, I can’t help but thinking a more positive step for women would be getting rid of the swimsuit issue altogether. I don’t know any women who would mind one bit, but I predict a huge outcry from the men who look forward to this issue and a subsequent loss of a sure-thing revenue item for Sports Illustrated. As long as we are willing to get on board with the objectification of women for an audience the vast majority of which is straight and male, to celebrate it as something empowering for women, and to congratulate it for “breaking barriers,” we are going to be stuck promoting that idea that women — all women — need to be sexy-to-men to be acceptable. Surely we can promote inclusion without having to piggy back on that relentless message about what makes women worthy.

diversity · fitness · inclusiveness · team sports

Pickleball

Two women in green shirts smiling and posing with racquets and a silver cup
Team Racquet Ralph (Grace-Ann and Elan) posing with the league cup we certainly did not win, but took a photo with it anyways.

Know someone playing pickleball right now? If you do, they will likely tell you it is a great sport–easy to play and growing widely in popularity.

As a newbie to pickleball (just finished my first half-season this fall), I would like to share some early reflections (and random internet searches) to consider why pickleball is gaining popularity, and for whom.

A Fun Sport for Seniors, and Others

Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Seattle by three men: two are described by this article as a congressman and a “successful businessman” who thought up the sport to entertain their bored children.

Today, pickleball is often regarded as a retirement (or near retirement) sport. This 50 Plus Today website article describes the key benefits of pickleball as:

  • Healthy (and easy on joints)
  • Easy to learn
  • Social
  • Space friendly
  • Playable at various ages
  • Playable at various skill levels
  • Affordable
  • A year-round sport

As a tennis-style game, but played with a wiffle ball and on a slightly smaller court, it can be played singles or doubles. Because the point count ends at 11 points (with a 2-point difference), a round of pickleball can be played in as little as 10-15 minutes.

Where I live, in Ontario, Canada, the province’s Pickleball Ontario association has a publicly available policy statement on diversity and inclusion. The document describes the board’s commitments to increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups in pickleball, and includes a long list of inclusive key terms. The rec league I have played on is “open,” so no gender specific teams.

Paying to Play

The above suggests to me that the sport is aspiring to keep its barriers to entry low by encouraging players of different ages and abilities.

Pickleball isn’t an expensive sport compared to some others, but it still requires equipment (paddles, nets, court shoes) and sufficient indoor or outdoor space. Although you can make an available tennis court work for free, sports clubs organize leagues so charge individuals and teams to play.

Folks with philanthropic and economic interests are tapping into the growing popularity of pickleball. On one webpage I found that pickleball was being used as a charity fundraiser event. On another page, an investment company provides advice to retirees by comparing wise investing with pickleball strategy. To understand and play pickleball today is to have some social and cultural capital.

For some, the sport itself may represent affluence. This Wall Street Journal article from 2018 highlights tensions in an American retirement community after some residents proposed installing a pickleball court, while others disagreed due to the high cost. The article’s author describes the disagreement among these residents as a symbol of the growing wealth gap in America.

An “International” Sport

Pickleball has been described as a sport as growing in popularity around the world. This site lists over 2 dozen national pickleball associations. I do notice that mostly Western and middle- and high-income countries are on the list. 

On the web I found evidence of pickleball being played in some countries not on the above international associations list–but the players are vacationers, not residents. Examples below describe all-inclusive pickleball getaways, featuring special training and tournaments:

At the time of writing, there are only a few web articles I could find that consider the racial and ethnic diversity in pickleball, but both articles I found were behind paywalls.

The Future of Pickleball

The folks I’ve met in our fall pickleball league at the YMCA gym are a friendly and fun group, mostly couples or buds in their 40s to 60s. I expect most of them only wish they were retired.

Next season, the league moves to a venue across town with indoor courts that are dedicated for pickleball. The cost to play will double.

Pickleball evolved from other racquet sports. It will be interesting to see how this game continues to grow and evolve, depending on who plays it, and where.

diversity · fitness · inclusiveness · strength training

The New Gym Rules

Feature photo credit: Alora Griffiths via Unsplash

As gyms around the world are slowly reopening this year, I welcome them to take this opportunity to restart with some new ground rules and expectations for their patrons in order to make it a more welcoming space.  As they existed pre-COVID, most gym cultures that I experienced were sometimes fine and sometimes extraordinarily problematic. They were deeply gendered spaces with unspoken rules about who belonged where. Uncomfortable exchanges as men stared or leered at me, ignored me and took my equipment, or talked down at me to “explain” something or “help,” were common. I’ve heard stories of men recording women while they lift. Of people with physical disabilities and older people being ignored or belittled. These experiences keep people from returning for the next workout.

So, I ask gym-owners take an active role in creating new, more positive and inclusive environments at their gyms. Post these expectations and then draw a hard line–folks who fail to comply will not be welcome to remain lifting there.  Commit to building a sustainable community for everyone!

  1. Do not give advice or feedback unless requested
  2. Do not stare at or watch others lift for extended periods of time. 
  3. Absolutely no sexualized comments about other people’s bodies or their lifts
  4. Pay attention to who is using the equipment.  Make sure it is actually available before you take it/use it.  Equipment unavailable?  Ask to work in.
  5. Recording other people’s lifts will immediately get you removed.
  6. Racist, homophobic, sexist, ablist or other disparaging comments about groups of people will not be tolerated. 

Post these expectations right alongside the usual “wipe down the equipment” and “rerack your weights.”  Then, follow through.  If a patron tells you they were stared at, given unsolicited advice, or overheard a disparaging comment, take it seriously and address the person who made the unwelcome behavior.  Make it clear that you won’t tolerate behaviors that alienate members of the community.  

I get it that sometimes it’s about education and not willful harm to others.  It’s on you as the gym owner or employee to make clear boundaries and enforce them.  You’re going to need to use your best judgement.  There’s going to be grey areas.  Stating your rules up front will make these ambiguous situations better–everyone will be on the same page about what you expect.  

The rules will probably have to evolve as you learn more about what is problematic and how to reinforce norms that help everyone feel welcome.  That’s ok.  Update your poster every once in a while, keep learning, and show your members that you have their back.  Consistent enforcement of behavior norms will do more for the health of your business than ignoring problematic behaviors, which leave so many of our communities alienated from the gym.

I’m a queer, White woman with some physical limitations looking for a comfortable and accepting place to lift.  I’m less familiar with what other marginalized populations need in order to feel welcome in a space.  If I left something important out, please include it in the comments below!  

I look forward to lifting with all of you again!

Photo description: An adjustable incline bench and a rack of dumbbells. Photo credit: Brett Jordan via Unsplash

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher.  She can be found wondering if her neighborhood gym has survived being closed for over a year, picking up heavy things and putting them down again (in her garage for now) in Portland, Oregon. You can now read her at Progressive-Strength.com .