World record stability ball class (Guest post)

by Samantha Walsh

Today I tried a stability ball exercise class, at the YMCA. The reason for the class was an attempt to break the world record for most folks to ever participate in a stability ball class at once!

My friend Sarah invited me! She works at the Y and teaches a dance fitness class called arriba. I am so grateful for her friendship and the invitation. The class itself had a surprising amount of standing. I think that if I got more comfortable with the class, I could probably adapt it.

As it is I thought it was a good core and quad workout. I was pleased to see the YMCA operates from an inclusive design perspective. It was assumed people of all abilities would be participating. This was apparent in the attitude of the staff and how accessible everything was. It was so nice to show up in a space and know that you were expected. No looking for elevator key, no bizarre interactions. Nicely done YMCA.

P.S. I was on time for a 6am class.

#ymca #sweatforgood #stabilityball #friends #adaptivesport #adaptedfitness #accessible

Samantha Walsh is a disability scholar, activist and has experience within the professional service sector. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Toronto-OISE In the department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Social Justice Education (HSSSJE), formerly Sociology and Equity Studies. Samantha completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of Guelph. She also holds a Master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University.


Our community comments on turning kids off physical education

Recently Aimee Morrison posted about growing up as an unathletic kid, scarred by the Canada Fitness Test. That prompted me to share my memories of failing it every year. And I loved tests. Just not that one.

Later I discovered to my great surprise that I loved physical activity, just not the team sports on offer at my high school. (Later I even came to change my mind about team sports.)

I do wish though that I could have had a chance to play rugby. That wasn’t even a thing for girls when I was growing up.

There was also a culture of dividing us up, the jocks versus the book worms, and I was clearly in the latter so I couldn’t also be the former.

Apparently many of you have had childhoods like Aimee and me. We hit a nerve.

Lots of readers commented on our Facebook page about their experiences growing up, hating gym, and thinking they weren’t made for physical activity.

I love the community that’s gathered around our Facebook page, even though I can’t always live up to their high standards, and I asked permission to share their comments with you on the blog.

Karen Keely

Thanks for this. I always refuse to push myself athletically (I’ll exercise, but always keeping a significant reserve of energy unused) and had never quite articulated why, and you’ve given me food for thought.

Jodi Quinn

I was an unathletic weedy kid too who became an artist freak. As were all my friends. As we got into our late 30s & 40s we got active and have universally discovered that although we are not natural athletes, none of us are as hopeless or clumsy as we were told as children.

Conclusion: our society has a *massive* problem with how activity is taught to children, and the experts wonder why the western world is dying of inactivity.

When you’re a kid & suck at sports or dance or running, adults & kids alike abuse you. When you’re a middle aged sucky runner, everyone’s like “go you!” What is wrong with this picture?

Alyssa Edwards

I love this and I found it so inspiring and reassuring. I’m 28 and JUST starting to come into my own in terms of exploring my own athleticism and fitness goals. Hated gym class, had/have social anxiety, could never do team sports or anything with balls. But I’ve been seeing a personal trainer, doing yoga, and just bought a pair of snowshoes. Discovering “sports” or “fitness” or whatever you want to call it as a new way of finding adventures in the world has been key for me.
I LOVE this blog and it has been huge in helping me on this journey. Thanks so much for this piece and for all your writing!

Sarah VS

Love this! So much of it rang true for me. Those fitness challenges in school were the worst! It has only been in the last few years that I’ve started to enjoy movement and not see it as humiliating or punishing or just to lose weight.

I always tell the story about my Grade 6 fitness test-I was a strong student who always got her work done, but I was in the minority in my class that year. My teacher was frustrated by the general lack of productivity, and threatened that if we did not complete a writing assignment by the following day, we would be kept from the doing the fitness test. I pitched my long ago completed assignment and started over, just to avoid my most hated day of school!

Angela Wilson

I HATED the Participaction humiliation. Never once received more than a participation badge. Now skiing, climbing, running and yoga’ing at 42. Never too late to figure out what your body is capable of.


These Four Healthy Habits Matter More Than Your BMI

I love a good, simple message.

Here’s my favourite in recent months. See Can you disease proof yourself? Why appearances can be misleading

Short version: Regardless of weight the people with these four healthy habits had the lowest risk of early death.

Take away: If it’s health that’s your goal work on these habits not your weight.

The four? Eat your vegetables. Don’t smoke. Drink in moderation only.  And exercise.

It’s not rocket science.  And pretty much everyone lots of people can manage these habits. (Corrected: See RK’s comment below. I tend to think that since I quit smoking and can’t lose weight, it’s true that one is easier than the other. Not necessarily true. Context and social circumstances matter.)

So while your friends and my friends are busy debating (for health reasons) high fat low carb diets versus vegan diets or high intensity interval training versus strength training, just relax. Breath and smile and eat your veggies. That’s the thing that matters. Don’t stress the details.

Vegetables chopped and displayed in white bowls
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

“It’s January, which means health-improvement thoughts often turn to weight-loss diets. That’s unfortunate, not just because 95 percent of diets fail, but because research shows that what we do is more important than what we weigh for improving our odds of living longer and better. The good news is that what you need to improve your health odds is less than what you might think.

The four crucial habits are eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, exercising at least three times per week, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking. People who have all four habits have the lowest risk of dying before their time, and that risk is the same regardless of body weight. Similar research in the United Kingdom has found that having all four healthy habits may equal an extra 14 years of life.”


Compassion for aging, ailing bodies

Recently someone close to me (hi Sarah!) asked me a really hard question. Do you think that if your knee can’t be fixed you could make peace with your current level of ability? How would you feel about a new normal where your level of activity is set by the limitations of your knee?

It’s pretty clear I’d get back to riding so long distance cycling stays on the agenda. Everything else is short. With pain.

I didn’t know how to answer that question. I’d find other things to do. I’m a relentless optimist. Life would still be rich and rewarding.

I’d read more books.

Maybe I could learn to swim? I don’t know. I’m still thinking about this.

Today I met a new physio person at the University of Guelph clinic. She was lovely. She protested though when I called my left knee “the bad knee.”

We don’t say that here. We talk about the affected knee and the unaffected knee. They’re both good knees. It’s your body, she said. You should appreciate and take care of your knee. No name calling.

Our job here is to help you support the left knee.

Here’s the sign outside the physio clinic. Recovery, success, those are words I like.

Acceptance and compassion are not exactly my strong suit when it comes to me. But I’m thinking about it.


Walking again!

I’ve taken walking for granted over the years, assumed that whenever I want to I can walk as far and as long as I need to. No fuss, no muss.

Not anymore.

Today I went on my first walk that was long enough to register as a walk on my Garmin since my knee injury. But I’m not sure if it’s getting better or if my pain tolerance is going up. Still, the sun was shining and I need to get outside. There are emotional well-being issues here too.

The whole walk was actually closer to 4 km but I stopped and started a few times running errands on campus.

Tonight though I’m back to my ice and riding on the trainer routine. Tomorrow I meet a new Guelph physio person.

Slow, steady, walking not running….


Running for fun, running by feel (Guest post)

by Aimée Morrison

Here’s a story from yesterday. I went to the fun run with no idea what the route was, and then I forgot the adaptor that lets me plug my headphones into my iPhone. So I had no idea where I was going, how fast I was running, how far I had gone, nothing. So I ran by feel, reasoning that I could sense my own effort level, and having put in multiple 7.5 and 10k training runs, I was unlikely to poop out on a 5k. I just decided to follow the people in front of me, run a pace that felt sustainable, and trust my training.

It turns out I ran it faster than I planned but I had enough in me to do a big kick right at the end, just because. It turns out that when you know you are really well prepared for a given effort, even when things go hinky (no idea how fast, how far, the route, no music) it’s still pretty easy to get it done and have a good time.

Probably writing and sabbaticals are like that. Steady and regular low-stress training effort leads to race day strength, and a better capacity to absorb some unexpected changes. I surprised myself with that. I’m going to try to remember.

Aimée Morrison has been practicing yoga for 11 years, training in a 200 hour YTT in 2014, and Yoga for Round Bodies 2016. Erstwhile yoga teacher introductory to advanced at Queen Street Yoga in Kitchener. In her spare time, associate prof at UWaterloo, specializing in social media.


Walking Dogs and Rewards for Writing

Tracy blogged recently about her strategy of using workouts as rewards.

I love that idea and often do the same with bike rides.

Recently I’ve started using a writing productivity app, writeometer, which tracks minutes and words written per day and organizes writing projects.

It got me through my December working blitz which involved completing two papers and one report. Two left to go!?

Because I was heavily motivated by actual deadlines and genuine pressure I didn’t even look at the rewards section of the app.

But the other day I guess I was so far behind it started offering me cookies. If you write for just fifteen minutes, you may have a cookie.

However, it’s the holidays and I’m surrounded by cookies and by chocolate. That didn’t feel particularly motivational

But the next reward that popped up was a dog walk. Yay! Dog walks! Cheddar and I jumped on it. Fifteen minutes of writing and then a walk.

Now clearly there was nothing stopping me walking the dog without writing but the game playing aspect appeals to me.

I love rewards for mini chunks of intense focused work. There’s browse Facebook, my usual five minute writing break rewards.

Eat a cookie. Sure. Once that feels like a perk again and not just life.

But also go out for a short walk.

Cheddar will be happy for the company.

Snow dog #nofilter #dogsofinstagram

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