diversity · fitness · Guest Post · inclusiveness

An Individual ND Approach to Fitness (Guest Post)

By Becky Sinnott

Becky Sinnott

I’m a late-diagnosed ADHD person (at 40!), with autistic traits, and a mom of 7-year-old neurodivergent (ND) twins, who are also ND.

As a youth, I struggled to be part of many fitness activities through school and with my peers, as I was excluded and bullied out of most team sports. As with most teachers, my physical education (P.E.) teachers treated me like I was intentionally weird. It was terrible for my mental health.

I was still fit and active; it just looked different from a “standard fitness routine.” I spent a lot of time walking, dancing, cycling, or being a “tourist in my own town.” I did a lot of gardening. Activity was part of life. 

As an adult, I’ve reflected on how many exercise routines are based on behaviorism:  Rewards, punishments, deprivation, gruelling hours, and misery. So I’ve always felt kind of glad that I wasn’t included in sports whose players trained that way. Behaviorism is the theory on which “conversion therapy” and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are based; these reward/punishment systems have been and continue to be used to abuse and manipulate people (but that’s a topic for another day.)

In contrast, the ND community is developing healthy, life-integrative tools, resources, and groups to overcome inertia (task paralysis), avoid fatigue, promote “stacking or scaffolding,” and curate activities around what ND folks actually like to do and are already doing.

Non-exercise Activity Thermogenisis [NEAT] is the increase in overall activity in your daily life rather than focusing on workouts a few times a week, which can be unattainable for many ND people due to various reasons including financial, safety, lack of supports, and infrastructure inaccesibility. 

Quite often the inaccessibility impacts the people that need it most, where taking a NEAT approach means it’s accessible to everyone. For example, according to NEAT, dancing (especially in your kitchen) can be as good as jogging when it comes to fitness, and because it’s fun you’re more apt to keep doing it! For further description of NEAT, here’s a High Brow description.

Here are some NEAT examples that help me to integrate fitness into my life:

  • Calling a friend (body doubling) and going for a walk is enjoyable, and we can be in two separate cities while doing it.
  • Gardening, which is great exercise and good for my mental health.
  • Volunteering, at a food bank or a library. Lots of heavy lifting and I’m doing some good for the world.
  • Becoming familiar with self-regulation tools and my own needs/accommodations list (I’m building a printable package right now) and putting them into place to structure more activity, which assists me regardless of my physical or mental health for the day.
  • Knowing when I need to rest.

It can be challenging for neurotypical people to make exercise more accessible for ND folks. I have a few ideas to consider:

  •  Team sports can be tough for anyone, but it’s especially the case for some ND people with sensory challenges. What supports could be applied in those situations? 
  • Many ND people have other hidden disabilities such as motor skill/coordination disorders like dyspraxia, or connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. What tools would assist in participation?
  • ND people may face additional challenges, such as Language Processing Disorder, that may not make them seem like good team players. How can you provide more time for folks to process in certain environments?

There are many benefits to having Neurodiversity in sport and fitness activities. ND athletes

  •  are good problem solvers
  • work well under pressure (ADHD)
  • are geat at seeing patterns and detecting flaws in opposing teams
  • help team members to develop new social skills, novel approaches to challenges, and the pride of being in a well rounded group

Many ND people (and people with other disabilities) have spent most of their lives building or finding workarounds and bending “rules” in order to have reasonably functional lives. Their non-linear experiences and creativity has helped the neurotypical and able world to find solutions to various challenges in various places in society.

When a person with a disability requests an accommodation or more accessibility, they need it in order to function, and everyone else benefits, so there’s no good reason not to work with those requests. I’ve noticed as I take my littles through the process of finding sports and other activities, being straightforward with their challenges has opened more doors than it’s closed.


  1. The ND community is actively building more manageable and positive approaches to fitness and health.
  2. NEAT is a great starting point in developing life structures help becoming more active for everyone.
  3. One particular routine isn’t necessary: do what you like and switch up often because variety is the spice of life.
  4. And when you just can’t, that’s okay: listen to your body and mind and give yourself permission to rest. Rest is a basic need. Self-compassion and un-shaming for when you fall off the wagon will help you get back on sooner.
  5. Accommodations and accessibility are necessary to some but beneficial to everyone.
  6. Inclusion in physical activity offers unexpected benefits to everyone. 
fitness · Guest Post

To Sample or Specialize? Why Does it Matter Long Term? (Guest Post)

By Sarah Teetzel

What do we really know about the long-term benefits of sport sampling?

The risks and negative outcomes of early sport specialization are now well understood. From research on sport attrition and when and why people (particularly teenage girls) drop out of sport, researchers have identified several factors that contribute to negative sport and physical activity experiences.

Sport specialization involves high-intensity training in one sport to the exclusion of all other sports. While it was long believe to be a path to high performance success and advanced skill acquisition, the research literature and Canada’s Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity framework agree that specialization prior to late adolescence can do far more harm than good.

Plenty is known about the risks of early sport specialization, particularly the connections between intensive training and negative outcomes with respect to overuse injury risk. Ample research also suggests that early specialization is linked to a greater risk of burnout, shortened peak performance, and decreased motivation to engage in activity. Yet the posited alternative to specialization, most often a multisport experience, where youth “sample” a variety of activities and in doing so gain myriad sport skills, is far less studied.

Also known as diversification, sport sampling refers to athletes who take part in more than one organized sport in a year as well as informal and enjoyable physical activities. Sport sampling is assumed to be beneficial and protective, but why?

Image description: a collage of 4 photos showing two kids frolicking along the shore of a lake, shooting hockey pucks, swinging a golf club at a driving range, and playing soccer in the snow. The word ‘multisport’ appears in yellow font in the middle of the image.

A lack of diversified activity may not allow young children to develop the appropriate neuromuscular and motor skills that are effective for participation in lifelong sport and physical activity. Some research supports the idea that children aged 6 to 12 who participate in a wide array of sports are more likely to be involved in sport as adults, suggesting that sampling has a protective effect against burnout and attrition from sport. Athletes who avoid specializing are also believed to be more physically literate and comfortable executing a wider variety of motor skills that are transferable across sports. The idea that sport sampling can be an effective pathway to both high-performance sport success and continuing sport participation into and throughout adulthood is increasingly prevalent. Yet we don’t actually know if or why sampling or diversification in youth correlate with physically activity levels and physical literacy in adults.

Does having a multisport experience prior to the first identified dropout point in sport (i.e., approximately age 12) correlate with being a physically active and/or physically literate young adult, and adult?

We are working with Sport for Life to see if research data supports this belief and assumption.

To do so, a survey addressing what you recall participating in prior to age 12 and what you enjoy today has been created, with the option of signing up for a follow-up interview with a member of the research team. Canadians aged 18-60 are invited to participate. (A separate study looking at similar themes in older adults is planned for the future.)

Image description: A poster advertising the study with a QR code to access the informed consent form for the survey at https://uwinnipeg.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1LdNbqu5BFL8Ptk. The background images feature people engaging in jogging, yoga, skiing and stand up paddleboarding.

More information about the study and access to the informed consent form to participate is available here or by scanning the QR code above. The survey can be completed in English or French.

The Principal Investigator of the study is Dr. Melanie Gregg at the University of Winnipeg, and the study has been funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development grant. The University of Winnipeg’s research ethics board has approved this study.

Sarah Teetzel is a professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba and a member of the research team working with colleagues at Sport for Life Canada on the Diversification for an Active Life study. She is a former U Sports swimmer who now spends her leisure time playing driveway hockey, hiking, and every so often remembering why she used to love to swim by visiting her local pool.

fitness · Guest Post · swimming

My fitness journal, Part 1: Swimming

I want to focus on some swimming goals. My past performances are going to help me shape my swimming goals for 2023. 

I track my workouts and activities on an online fitness app. I’ve been doing this for a while, and it’s interesting to see the trends, especially in my swimming activities from year to year. Here are the data for total number of swims from 2012-2016:

  • 2012: 79
  • 2013: 80
  • 2014: 75
  • 2015: 78
  • 2016: 85 (wow!)

From 2012-2016, it was a pretty steady routine, averaging 80 swims per year. I included practices and competitions. Then it dramatically dropped from 2017-2019. I’m trying to remember why. Perhaps I was taking a break; I had been swimming with our Masters team, the London Silver Dolphins, since 2002 and started to ramp up my swimming once I started to go to meets. Maybe I wanted to try other fitness activities. And then it was March 2020, and our swimming seasons got disrupted until September 2022.

So what about my swimming goals for 2023? 

I want to get back to what I did from 2012-16. I was averaging 80 swims per year (rounding up). What about the distance? The average mileage was 140.8 km/year. That’s 1760 m per swim.

Ok, so now I have my goal for 2023: 80 swims, 141 km.

So far? 19 swims, 37.8 km: 1989 m per swim. Awesome! 

BUT: are numbers all that matter?? 

Of course not. They’re an easy benchmark, and provide a concrete goal. And, as a scientist by training, it’s easy for me to compile and analysis numerical data. But there’s other types of data that can be collected and analysed. Emotional data. Because that’s the primary driver of going to the pool. 

The smell of chlorine is familiar and comforting. It tells me that I’m in a good place and that I’m about to get into the pool. There are times where my motivation wanes; it’s late at night and maybe I’m really NOT in the mood. But lately, that has not been an issue, likely because this is the first full season since the beginning of the pandemic. On the pool deck, I do some warm-up exercises and look at the workout to plan my gear (pull buoys, fins, etc). 

That initial dive is exhilarating. I go into autopilot as I find my pace, and focus on my technique. I love an endurance workout because it allows for getting into a rhythm. The sound of my deep breathing, the rush of the water. I love a speed workout because of the feel of slicing through the water. My body feels powerful and coordinated and I love the feel of the water wash over me. I’m always thinking about technique: the alignment of my body; the reach, catch and pull of my arms and upper body; rotation around the long axis; the 3-beat kick of my legs. 

After getting out of the pool and changing back into my clothes, I feel pleasantly relaxed. My skin smells like chlorine. I’m thirsty (even though I’ve been drinking water throughout the workout)! I swim late at night, so after I get home, I have a shower and a snack and then relax by playing word games before going to bed. And I SLEEP. 

The physical feelings extend into the next day. I feel light and loose and my breathing is relaxed. My brain feels activated. And I’m still thirsty (can’t drink too much at night, because I’ll need to get up to pee)!

How does your favourite exercise make YOU feel? Do you keep a journal? It’s a new experience for me, so any advice is welcome!

A beautiful blue outdoor swimming pool on a sunny day
disability · fitness · Guest Post

Part 2: The mystique of choice feminism  (Guest post)

Image description: Book cover, Ivanka Trump: Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success

In my last post, I argued that beauty culture, which is supported by beautyism (a preference for “beautiful bodies”), is an artefact of ableism eugenics. In this post, I will explain why I think that choice feminism supports this ableist system. Choice feminism treats women’s choices as inherently justified and politically acceptable. If women choose to cosmetically alter their appearance, this is nobody’s business but their own. There are two main problems with this view.

First, choice feminism ignores the intersectionality inherent in the category “women.” It is patently false that women’s choices cannot be criticized as racist, heteronormative, ableist, and oppressive in other ways. Nondisabled white women, in particular, are complicit in the prevailing system of white-supremacist eugenics, because their choices routinely contribute to this system of oppression. Choice feminism shields privileged women from accountability for their ableist preferences and values. It says that women should be allowed to fear and scorn disabled (black, fat) bodies with impunity from judgment. In other words, choice feminism denies the force of the critique from Black, queer, and disabled feminists (as outlined in my last post), that the beauty industry promotes a white, thin, nondisabled appearance, and people who use cosmetic products to achieve this look are participating in a system of able-bodied privilege.

Second, choice feminism treats beautyism as a purely personal and private choice as opposed to a response to a system of oppression that compels obedience and submission. Choice feminism, that is, gets things backwards. Beauty culture isn’t the outcome of many private consumer choices, but rather a political economy that sells able-bodiedness as the onlyreasonable choice. As Robert McRuer puts it, able-bodiedness is “compulsory” in the sense that it is a condition of being seen as normal, but “compulsion is here produced and covered over with the appearance of choice…, mystifying a system in which there actually is no choice.” Choice feminism papers over the system of compulsory able-bodiedness that demands physical conformity from everyone. When women participate in this system, they are contributing to the politics of eugenics. Their choices are not independent of this system, but integral parts of it.

Having said this, it’s important to recognize that we can and should resist beauty culture. But in order to do this, we need to do two things. First, we have to admit that beauty culture is a system of oppression that stigmatizes and eliminates socially disvalued traits, which are labeled as disabilities. Second, we have to recognize that ableism, racism, fatphobia, and other prejudices intersect with each other and contribute to a eugenics culture. In this culture, being “beautiful” simply means being able-bodied, and being able-bodied overlaps with being white and gender-conforming. Having these traits confers social capital and status. Beautyism, then, is a pillar of ableist eugenics in that it selects and favors these traits. It is not a “mere preference” that consumers happen to have. It is a component part of a system of ableist eugenics that punishes and eliminates disability. Choice feminism mystifies this system by denying that women’s choices have political import. It prevents us from criticizing women’s ableist choices.


Mich Ciurria is a queer, disabled philosopher who teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her/their research interests include moral psychology, Marxist feminism, and critical disability theory. She/they is the author of An Intersectional Feminist Theory of Moral Responsibility (Routledge) and a regular contributor to the blog BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.  

beauty · disability · fitness · Guest Post

Part 1: Beautyism as ableist eugenics (Guest post)

By Mich Ciurria

I recently came across this article on Vice.com asking filmmakers to “stop making hot actors play normal people.” I think that this is a real problem but not for the reasons most people assume. Instead, I think that mainstream beauty culture – which encompasses Hollywood cinema – is structured by beautyism, by which I mean a prejudice in favor of “beautiful” bodies and against “ugly” bodies. And beautyism overlaps with racism, heteronormativity, and, above all, ableism.

More specifically, beautyism is part of a eugenics culture that favors white, gender-conforming, nondisabled bodies, the kinds of bodies preferred by eugenicists throughout history. Indeed, disability is partly defined as white and gender-conforming.

Yet few people seem to notice this, even in feminist spaces where one would expect to find such critiques. I believe that this is largely because of the prevalence of “choice feminism,” an ideology that treats women’s choices as “[inherently] justified and always politically acceptable.” In other words, choice feminism holds that we should not critique women’s choices, no matter how problematic they may be.

Here, I want to debunk choice feminism and argue that beautyism promotes a eugenics society. I will do this in two parts. In the first part, I will explain why I think that beautyism is a component part of eugenics. This argument is supported by critical disability feminism. In the second part, I will unpack why choice feminism not only ignores these critiques, but actively silences them by presenting women’s choices as private matters that are beyond reproach.    

Beautyism as ableist eugenics

First, let me explain why I think that beautyism is a form of ableism. Beautyism is exemplified in Hollywood’s preference for “beautiful” actors, as well as ordinary people’s attempts to live up to Hollywood’s standard of beauty. Beautism, as such, is an institutionalized preference for “beautiful bodies.” This preference picks out and favors certain traits over others. Which traits?

Above all, beautyism selects for able-bodiedness. It favors bodies that are “normal” and “healthy,” bodies with two arms, two legs, a symmetrical face, an athletic build, and other marker of able-bodiedness. In contrast, disabled bodies are seen as abnormal, freakish, and (hence) ugly.

Asymmetrical bodies, paralyzed bodies, amputated bodies – in general, disabled bodies – are “ugly” because they are not “normal” or “healthy,” much less ideal. But normalcy and health are social constructs, not natural or “prediscursive” states of affairs (to use Foucault’s term). A “normal” body is thought of as a nondisabled body only because of contingent historical and political circumstances that conflate “normal” and “able.”

These associations can and should be resisted. But to change them, we need to understand their origins in industrial capitalism, and their ongoing role in hierarchies of power and domination.

Disability historians have shown how disability came to be seen as ugly, freakish, and profane in the wake of the industrial revolution. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson traces the social construction of disability as deviancy by contrasting freak shows against beauty pageants circa 1860-1920.

Freak shows displayed disabled bodies under the guise of “armless wonders,” “Siamese twins,” “fat men,” “bearded women,” “spotted boys” (with vitiligo), and so on. In contrast, beauty pageants showcased white, thin, gender-conforming women. These two spectacles helped to solidify the notion of disability as ugly and freakish on the one hand, and able-bodiedness as beautiful and normal on the other hand. These opposing contexts also illuminate the associations between disability, blackness, queerness, and gender-variance, as opposed to able-bodiedness, whiteness, straightness, and gender-conformity.

Historically, disvalued traits of all kinds were treated as disabling conditions, and were in fact disabling in the sense that having these traits would often result in socioeconomic exclusions that could both cause disablement (due to injury and neglect) and position one as disabled (marginalized, poor).  

Sarah F. Rose corroborates this analysis by tracing the source of disability circa 1840-1930 to the exclusion of non-standard bodies from the economy in the wake of the industrial revolution. Newly mechanized industries demanded bodies that could keep pace with the new machinery. Hence, non-interchangeable bodies were, for the first time, seen and treated as disabled (i.e., disposable). At this time, Black, feminine, and gender-nonconforming bodies were disproportionally disabled because they were relegated to the most disabling industries (e.g., mining, handling toxic chemicals), which solidified associations between Blackness, femininity, and disablement.

These groups were then forced onto welfare and private aid, which didn’t cover cost the cost of living. Meanwhile, white union workers were protected from disabling jobs by labor laws and collective bargaining, which ensured better working conditions, and entrenched the relation between able-bodiedness and white masculinity. In this way, disability was raced and gendered as a result of capitalist labor relations and social policies.

Sabrina Springs adds a further layer of analysis to this critique by explaining how diet culture, and beauty culture in general, emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries in response to white people’s fear of the Black body. She describes how Blackness was constructed in opposition to the ideal of Whiteness, as uncivilized, fat, unhealthy, and ugly. 19th-Century scholars wrote of “Black savages” as “stout,” “corpulent” and “excessively fleshy.” They particularly targeted Black women as exemplars of fatness, laziness, and poor hygiene – figures to be adjured by “civilized white ladies.” This racial ideology mobilized white women to invest in diet and beauty products in an effort to avoid traits associated with Blackness, particularly fatness and disability. This ideology also reinforced the notion of disability as a feature of fat, Black bodies.

These three analyses converge in conceptualizing ugliness as a social construct with roots in eugenics, a system of oppression that conflates Blackness, queerness, and disability, and punishes disability as such. While these critiques are historical in nature, they are just as relevant today as they were 200 years ago. We still live in a compulsory beauty regime that seeks to eliminate disability in all its forms. Today, people invest more than ever in diet and beauty routines that promise thinness, pale skin, a youthful appearance, and other markers of able-bodiedness. The beauty industry is a multi-billion-dollar racket that continues to capitalize on our fear of the disabled-Black-fat-ugly body, leading to an ever-shrinking range of acceptable bodies.

As Jia Tolentino puts it, social media is fueling the “emergence… of a single, cyborgian face,” one that is young, thin, and “distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic.” The more we invest in the beauty industry, the faster we approach a Gattaca-type society in which biological diversity is reviled and reduced. Note that in Gattaca, everyone is miserable – not only the genetically-unmodified “invalids,” but also the gene-edited “valids,” who feel that they can never live up to their genetic destinies or meet each other’s expectations. How much longer until scientists start using gene-editing technologies to create “beautiful” designer babies? This is the “brave new world” that Aldous Huxley warned us about, and it is already well underway with the current use of fillers, injections, surgeries, and other technologies used to erase disability. Gene-editing tools will allow parents to ensure their children’s genetic sameness at birth. 

Gattaca, movie cover

We need to intervene now if we want to prevent a slippery slope into an even more dystopian future. Scientific advances are already allowing people to use more invasive techniques to eliminate markers of disability and achieve a more homogeneous (boring and elitist) society. If we want to avoid Huxley’s prediction, we need to recognize beautyism as a produce of racial-patriarchal-capitalist eugenics, a system that abjures disability and demands bodily conformity.


Mich Ciurria is a queer, disabled philosopher who teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her/their research interests include moral psychology, Marxist feminism, and critical disability theory. She/they is the author of An Intersectional Feminist Theory of Moral Responsibility (Routledge) and a regular contributor to the blog BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.  

fitness · Guest Post · injury · mindfulness · racing · triathalon

Pause and Ponder (guest post)

This is a reblog of a newsletter post from the Rockvale Writers’ Colony by Sandy Coomer, its founder and director. Note: I’ll be there for a two-week writing residency in mid-October! She has things to say about what happened when she had to take a pause from life as usual. I’ll let her take it from here. -catherine

Anyone who knows me well knows I’m very active and busy. That’s my natural tendency. When I rest, I’m often thinking of and planning for the next burst of energy required for the next new project or idea. It’s hard for me to slow down. In fact, I rarely stop for long . . . unless I’m forced to. Funny how that works. When it’s necessary to pause, when I’m required to stop my busy enterprises, I’m pleasantly surprised at how refreshing it is to simply “Be.”

I had a triathlon race in Wisconsin this past weekend. I had a good swim and was at mile 15 of the bike when a pedestrian/spectator ran onto the bike course and we collided. The collision made me crash head-first into a parked pickup truck. The moments that followed were interesting. I was unable to say where I was or what my name was. I didn’t feel panic – just a sort of confused wonder at what I was doing on the road. I knew I was in a race, but I had no idea where. When someone told me I was in Wisconsin, I remember thinking, “How in the world did I get to Wisconsin?” Within a few more minutes, I remembered everything, and then I was whisked away to the emergency room.

I’m not badly hurt, but I will need a few weeks to heal from my injuries. It’s a forced pause, a slow-down to allow my body to heal and my concussion-addled brain to steady. Living in the still air of patience and acceptance is a lesson in a different sort of fortitude than the one I’m used to. It wasn’t in my plans to get hurt, but the hurt came anyway, and it’s my responsibility now to see what I can learn from it. Otherwise, the experience is wasted.

Here’s what I’m discovering from my forced “Pause.”

  1. People matter more than anything else. So many people have taken the time to check on me and see if I need anything. Am I attentive to others’ needs when I’m in “Busy” mode? Can I take a moment every day to tune into another person’s heart and say “I see you, you matter?” 
  2. Being still teaches a certain kind of balance which can lead to delight. I sat on my back porch yesterday and watched the afternoon fade into dusk. Two chipmunks were chasing each other from the porch to the grass and into the burrow under the shed. I felt like I was a crucial part of this scene. I belonged in an intricate way to the wonders of nature. I didn’t move or direct anything. I simply was there.
  3. Letting go of perfectionism is the key to being satisfied. I was sorely disappointed I didn’t finish the race. I kept replaying the details of the wreck in my head over and over. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? Sometimes, stuff happens that we can’t control. Sometimes, we simply have to accept the drama of the day and move on with gratitude.
  4. Beauty exists in every situation if you stay open to it. As I was being driven from the ER back to my hotel, I noticed the light glinting off the water of the lake, little cups of sparkle and glee. I thought, “how beautiful.” Back at home, I settled into my own comfortable bed with its floral comforter and sage green pillows and I thought, “how lovely.” Do I even notice this when I’m focused on all I need to get done?

When I think about my writing, I realize that if I get too focused on the achievement aspect and forget the beauty of each moment, I can miss the whole point of writing entirely. I write because I have something valuable to say. My writing comes from my soul, not my ambition. Remembering that is what will keep me at the page. 

A “Pause,” forced or chosen, can be a time of pondering and eventually, great insight. If we believe every situation has a purpose and a lesson, we’re more apt to let experiences teach us and take the lessons to heart. Yes, we learn a lot from work, but we learn equally from not working, from pausing our “Go” button, and simply allowing the universe to share its infinite wisdom. I would not have chosen to wreck in the race, but I AM choosing to ponder the Pause, the Moment, the Wonder of Being Here Right Now. 

It’s something I’m glad I didn’t miss.


fitness · Guest Post · season transitions

Late summer magic (Guest post)

by Judy Steers

It’s THAT time of day. You know the one. Where the sun is slicing through the trees at a sharp angle. It’s warm while it’s on you and losing that hot edge like it had back in July. Wrapped in a damp towel, your hair wild and wind-blown, you’re gingerly walking barefoot on the soft moss and hard stones back to shelter – whether that’s the tent, the camper, or the cottage.

You’re a bit wet still from an afternoon of playing in the waves and paddling down the wind and lying in the sun. You’ve body surfed and got rolled over and come up laughing. You’ve had a cold beer or soda or juicy apple or a bag of salty chips on the dock and now, it’s time to shift to the Later Things.

But right now? Now is that beautiful in-between time where you look for the mossy patch stepping stones to take your feet back to warm clothes and lunch dishes still on the table (because you were just so keen to get out on the afternoon adventure).

You wrap up in flannel and someone lights the barbeque or the fire. The water and the wind still roar and the towels dance in the line. You’re warm and happy and surrounded by people you love. Good food awaits. The promise of campfire, s’mores and the wind in the trees to lull you to sleep.

You’re 10 years old at Girl Guide camp, you’re 20-something on a short weekend with friends, you’re 40-something wrapping shivering children in big fluffy towels, you’re staring down 60 and feel like all of them.

5:00 pm on a late summer afternoon is pure magic. It’s the transition between splashing, shivering fun and warm well-fed contentment. The tentative barefoot steps on the moss tell you you’ve been here before, and your heart is grateful you get to do it again.

Judy is a school chaplain in her work life and a kayaker and board game geek in her play life. She lives in Guelph and regularly waves as Sam bikes past her house on her cool Brompton. She is now past 60 and still loves playing in the waves and campfire.

fitness · Guest Post · triathalon

It’s just a hill, get over it

by Alison Conway

For Jennifer

I consider myself a recreational triathlete. Which is to say: I wouldn’t buy a magazine related to the sport and I don’t have a tri-bike. Sprint triathlons were what I did, in before-Covid times, to take a break from running. A recent injury, however, threw me into the pool, where I met people who are serious about their sport. Very serious. Since competitive folks are my jam, I looked forward to going to triathlons with them this summer–and also to proving to my swim coach that I had learned from his excellent instruction.

Triathlon attracts type-A people, it seems to me. So much gear to organize! Such complicated training schedules! It’s a long way from running, which requires only a pair of sneakers and a will of steel. The paradox, though, is that the triathlon event is built to thwart the same dream of mastery that motivates its participants to sign up. Every race, something goes wrong. A bike tire explodes. The water turns out to be too rough and the swim is cancelled. Etc. And so the perfectionist finds herself defeated by forces beyond her control, after months of training. At least, this is how it looks to me, from the outside.

I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist, but I’m probably somewhere within shooting distance. I’ve done my best to learn the basics of the triathlon challenge. Last weekend I carefully reviewed “Summary of TriBC Rules” the night before race day, including this one: “It is mandatory that the bib number be worn on the back of your body for the entire bike course.” At dinner, I described the brutal hill that began the bike and run routes. One dinner guest described running a half marathon in San Francisco a while back. Half way up a steep hill was a man holding a sign, she said, that read: “It’s just a hill, get over it.” We laughed and I strategized how to break down that hill.

The next morning was windy—very windy. I carefully placed my race belt with my bib under my running shoes so that it wouldn’t fly away. I came out of the water after a great swim–(thanks, Coach!)–and reminded myself: wetsuit off, shoes on, helmet on, glasses on, grab the bike. I ran down the shoot onto the road, swung my leg over the bar—and saw the racer ahead of me with his race belt on. “Good god, the bib number!” I ran back into transition and put my belt on, cursing my idiot self.

So much negative chatter in my head as I headed out onto the bike course! Until I met the hill. There, I remembered the race sign described the night before: “It’s just a hill, get over it.” And I decided, as I toiled up that hill, to make it my mantra for the race. Get over the disappointment of a ruined bike time, get over the desire to beat myself up, get over everything except the beauty of the race course I was on and the thrill of being there, at all, after two years of pandemic. It was a beautiful morning to swim, bike, and run, and to watch my new pals from the pool race their hearts out.

The take-homes for me are these: listen carefully to women you meet at dinner parties–they may have wisdom to impart. And race day is yours to shape, whatever which way it plays out.

Race bib, number 312, Alison

Alison Conway lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples. 

fitness · Guest Post · strength training · weight lifting

Do not disturb, or on not having ‘hungry eyes’ for men at the gym (Guest Post)

By Brett

This past month has presented me with plenty of inspiration for a blog post. It was, as per usual, incredibly difficult for me to narrow down what to share. However, despite the volume of vulnerable, queer, fitness-related experiences I’ve found myself in there is one moment that feels heavier than the rest. As most of my uncomfortable gym situations begin, this moment was initiated by a male person approaching me mid-workout.

Allow me to paint this picture more clearly. By ‘mid-workout’, I mean a headphones-on-full-blast-sweating-through-my-tank-top-unaware-of-the-rest-of-the-world state of mind.

Now, I have very few objections to interacting with others at the gym. Developing an open, positive community within the gym environment can remove social barriers that hinder the enthusiastic participation of everyone wishing to pursue an active lifestyle. However, this was not one of those interactions. I retrieved my dumbbells from the ground, stood upright, and proceeded to perform my bicep curls.

Simultaneously, this male person positioned himself about 4 feet behind me, and continued to dance his eyes between the back of my legs and making direct eye contact with me via the mirror that stood in-front of both of us. I have a horrible tendency to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, regardless of how clearly their behavior should be reprimanded. Therefore, using said mirror, I quizzically raised my eyebrows at the male person, hoping he may just be looking for someone to spot him on a lift, or perhaps was wondering which direction the washrooms may be. It must be at this point that you are wondering if I moonlight as a comedian…because, yes, these innocent wishes about his intentions were dead wrong.

His response to my quizzical eyebrow raise was to begin speaking, despite the music blasting from my headphones. I set my weights back down, turned to face him, and slid a headphone back.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

“Uh, I was just like wondering if you like compete, or like yeah.”


“Yeah, in like physique stuff.”

“No, I do not. I’m just a gym rat.”

It was at this point that he began this disturbing soliloquy:

“That’s cool. You should do physique competitions; you have great definition. I was like worried to ask you because so many girls get so offended when I try to chat with them. But, I could just like tell from your form that you know how to work out, and like I knew your vibe was different. Honestly, you’re just so focused, most girls like look at me with like ‘hungry eyes’, but you just are doing your thing. It’s cool, you know?”

When I tell you that I have heard this well-rehearsed chaos on hundreds of occasions, I say so with little exaggeration. Now, a piece of unsolicited advice, if you redirect the topic of conversation onto them, you quickly fade into the background of a wonderfully self-centered dialogue regarding their macro-intake or something equally as unimportant. Which is exactly what I did, and exactly what he did. Fortunately, this led to a perfect opportunity for a swift ending to the conversation, and my ability to slip my headphones back on (my gym version of a “Do Not Disturb” sign).

It is not my intention that this post comes across as scathing, rant-ish, or a generalization of male people in fitness. Rather, I’m hoping that we can let out a big collective chuckle at the absurdity of this moment.

First, the mental image of me participating in the hyper-feminine culture of physique modelling is absolutely comical for anyone who knows me well.

Second, the fact that this person had the audacity to paint himself as a victim when approaching women at the gym and them being “offended” shows so little self-awareness it made me question how this individual managed to think so highly of himself… while clearly having no idea of who he truly is.

Third, and my personal favourite part of all of this, my lack of “hungry eyes” played no role in him recognizing that I truly, sincerely have little to no interest in gazing at men.

Finally, bold of him to refer to me as a ‘girl’.

Regardless of all the technical issues of his little plan, the most curious part was that he could not recognize the hypocritical nature of his actions. My feminist training began running wild. The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy, suffering under a male gaze, r*pe culture and the idealization of ‘the chase’, etc. Luckily, I snapped out of my trance just in time to realize that “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor was playing through my headphones. I picked up my dumbbells, mentally wished all non-conformists a ‘Happy Pride Month’, and purposefully moved those weights with horrible form.

30 lb dumbbells

Bio: Hi! I’m Bret and I hail from Guelph, ON, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I am currently working towards an MA in Philosophy at Western University, and enjoy engaging in feminist theory, ethics, as well as gender and sexuality studies. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be taught by both Sam and Tracy, and I am excited to join the Fit is a Feminist Issue community! When my nose isn’t in a book, I can be found in coffee shops, at the gym, or taking on car repairs that are far beyond my capabilities.

camping · cycling · disability · fitness · Guest Post · inclusiveness

One Way Bike Camping

The past twelve months of my life have been overflowing with adventures and exciting changes. In May 2021, I began to realize that my beloved London, Ontario community would not be my home forever. But I wasn’t sure what my next steps would look like.

In late August, I hopped on my trusty pedelec (pedal electric assist cycle) loaded with camping supplies and headed north along Lake Huron. At that time I assumed I’d be back in London by November or December, but had no plans set in stone.

In mid-October, I was biking from Wikwemikong to Manitowaning when I snapped a milestone photo showing 1200km on my trip odometer. Although I continued on to Kagawong & Ice Lakes afterwards via a bus-bike combo, in many ways it marked the end (or at least nearly the end) of my first bike camping adventure.

A week later I was supposed to catch the last ferry of the season back to Tobermory… but I didn’t want to leave. In the short time I’d been on Manitoulin, I had already begun to feel a sense of belonging. Community care, breathtaking beauty, and changing scenery around every corner make Manitoulin a place unlike any other that I came across in my travels.

Several weeks of stealth bike camping increased my comfort with making decisions based on rapidly changing contexts, rather than trying to plan everything in advance. Manitoulin feels like where I need to be during this season of my life. So I took a leap and unexpectedly moved to Northern Ontario via bike camping!

This December sunset bay photo feels like a warm winter hug! To the left, a few trees are silhouetted against a pastel pink sky. A couple islands can be seen on the horizon line. A thin row of rocks poke through ice which reflects the sky near the horizon, but is covered with snow closer to the shore line. The shore has patches of snow interspersed with sand and tufts of grass. On the left side of the foreground is the corner of a weather worn wooden fence, with tall dried grass spilling out to the right and gradually thinning out. Despite the busyness of this photo, it somehow feels inviting.