fitness

Happy National Unicorn Day!, #NationalUnicornDay

Really!

A bright inflatable unicorn on a bright blue body of water. Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

How to observe National Unicorn Day? I know you’re wondering.

“There are several ways to celebrate this fun day. Try these fun ideas:

  • Make some brightly colored pancakes or cupcakes.  Decorate them with multicolored sprinkles or glitter.
  • Bake cookies in the shape of unicorns.
  • Watch a favorite movie including unicorns.
  • Draw a picture of a unicorn or write a story about one.
  • Read your favorite fantasy novel featuring unicorns.

We’ve also created a coloring page and a picture puzzle. Can you find the differences? Use the key to see if you find them all. Post photos on social media using #NationalUnicornDay”

Or, you can read old Fit is a Feminist Issue posts (below) with “unicorn” in the title!

Kayaking with Unicorns (and Children)

I’m no weightloss unicorn

When it comes to weight loss, aim to be an alpaca not a unicorn

What are the habits of weight loss unicorns?

fitness

Small steps, big gains

Last week I made a quilt. It wasn’t a quilt with a fitness theme, but I did get my fit on. I deliberately set up my cutting mat on a table quite far away from my sewing machine, and I positioned my ironing board equally far from both the mat and the machine.

The end result, I easily got my 10K steps in. I had previously noticed that when I spend time on housework, I get my 10K steps in be it going up and down stairs, carrying baskets or vacuum cleaners, cleaning, sweeping and the like. I tend to think of sewing as sedentary, but last weekend I realized the only sitting I did was when I bound the quilt.

The next day I felt in my shoulders the effort required to push three layers of a 70 inch by 50 inch lapquilt through the sewing machine. Upper body workout for the win!

I work as a writer so I am often at my laptop for long stretches. Generally though, I try to move around in between those stretches. I’m glad to find out that even without my regular workouts (suspended during this winter’s lock down), I’m reasonably active.

Now that the weather is better, I aim to get outside more frequently as a walk outside beats housework any day!

Luckily for us, lockdown has been lifted and I’ll be back training with my socially distant, but no less enthusiastic trainer this week.

fitness

Wear a mask, get a vax, part 2

This is part two of the FIFI blogger group’s current dialogue about anti-vaxxers/anti-maskers in the fitness community. Part 1 was Cate’s rant, published this morning.

So this happened: Quebec city gym linked to more than 400 cases of COVID-19, with one death possibly coming out of that cluster.

This comes just as we as a blog community are exploring anti-mask and anti-vax stances within the fitness community. I captured my own perspective about it this morning; here I’m sharing the voices of some of the rest of the FIFI bloggers.

Diane set the tone by reminding us that collective and communal action is a natural instinct, not confined to humans:

I listened to an interesting piece this weekend on gorillas caring for orphaned babies. If an 800 lb silverback male can care lovingly for a toddler gorilla, surely humans can do the same to ensure survival of the community. Because most individual humans don’t survive without their community.

Christine added to this:

There’s a great anecdote about anthropologist Margaret Mead that really reflects my feelings on how to be part of a community.

When asked about the first signs of civilization, Mead didn’t reference leaps in technology, she said that the first sign of civilization was a well-healed femur (thigh bone) because it was an indication that someone took care of an injured member of their group and helped them survive until they could take care of themselves. She went on to say that we are at our best when we help others.

I’m determined to be part of that kind of civilization, that kind of community. I’m not here to prove my individuality, I’m part of a team of people trying to make sure we’re all okay.

Being part of that community, for us, is about actually soldiering on through our own discomfort to protect both ourselves and others. Martha said:

I’m claustrophobic and do not like masks (can’t even bear facials) but I wear mine regardless because the science is there to support mask wearing along with social distancing, handwashing/sanitizing, and short interactions. I am tired of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers riding on the coattails of people like myself who assume the small risk vaccines may pose for small groups of the population but do it anyway to create herd immunity. It’s not a personal choice.

Christine added:

I understand that there are people with allergies or trauma that can’t wear masks or get vaccinated and I’m not trying to make them feel bad. I consider my mask and vaccination part of the overall plan to keep those people safe.

Nicole said the same thing: Short answer: I’ll wear a mask and I’ll get vaccinated because I think we are all in this together and I’m not willing to risk someone else’s life because something is slightly inconvenient for me.

That short answer for Nicole came from a longer, thoughtful analysis of the relationship between fitness, fitness communities, science and her recognition of her own role.

I believe in fitness. I believe it makes me significantly more mentally and physically healthy in important ways.

I also believe that I improve my overall well-being by being conscious of the food I eat.

I believe in the community I’ve been part of over the years, working out in small gyms. We may have different backgrounds, different sizes, different political beliefs. But, we generally see the best in each other through shared movement combined with sweat.

I really feel for the small business owners who have been most affected by the pandemic. Gyms have been especially hard hit. It hurts to see people I care about struggling and filled with anxiety about their passion and livelihoods.

But, seeing some of these people fall prey to the conspiracy theorists and “wellness truthers” is more upsetting. I can’t feel anything but anger when I see some people share memes about taking Zinc over vaccines, or suggesting that the pandemic has been made up, when I can also see 47 year old teachers dying from Covid-19. When health professionals are crying out of exhaustion and frustration at the reactionary tactics used by our government.

I believe in good science. I believe in supporting health professionals working their asses off to get us to the other side of the pandemic. I don’t support suggestions that fitness is a substitution for vaccines or that closing a business is as bad as losing your loved one to this virus.

An immunologist friend of mine emphasized this point even further today:

There’s a commercial machine linked to fitness that promulgates a slew of untrue beliefs about the immune system, how it works, and how best to help it along. As an immunologist, this specific kind of nonsense particularly irks me. Not long ago I read the medical literature on the topic of yoga and the immune system; I found only a handful of papers that had measured immunity in any meaningful way after people had devoted time to yoga, the outcomes were contradictory, and the measures employed easy to do but only tangentially linked to real immunity. So when a newly qualified yoga teacher boldly asserted that yoga “boosts the immune system”, and when I raised a question was told that “studies have shown”, I actually read the studies. Studies have not, in fact, shown.

Sam reminded us that this kind of faux science has a huge price on the most vulnerable people in our communities:

I’m getting super frustrated by a line of argument that I keep hearing during the pandemic, sometimes in the context of masks, sometimes in the context of vaccination, and sometimes in the context of opposition to closing gyms. It’s that fitness is more protective than any of the other measures–masks, vaccination, closures–and that fit healthy people shouldn’t pay the price that the old, the obese, and those with underlying health commissions are imposing on society.

First it’s just false! Lots of healthy fit people end up in hospital sometimes with long lasting post covid effects. Second, disability and age aren’t matters of personal responsibility. We’ll all age no matter how many push ups we can do. But third, it doesn’t matter. This is a matter of collective responsibility. Even if you’re not at risk, others are and you ought to care about that!

How are you navigating this tension in the fitness world?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is also very tired of lockdown, but is doing her part.

fitness

Where does anti-vax/anti-mask rhetoric fit into the fitness community?

(This is part one of a discussion about vaccines and masks and personal choice and the fitness community; part two, voices from all of the FIFI bloggers, will be published this afternoon).

I got my first covid vaccine jab last weekend. It came on top of a week — a month? a year? — of massive fatigue. That fatigue hasn’t gone away — as my colleague said, “rest, and give your body a chance to adjust to its fancy new medicine.”

I don’t know if my fatigue is vaccine-related, or seasonal allergies or just the culmination of the crush of the pandemic, increasingly burnt out clients, another full provincial lockdown just announced today. But what I do know is that my vaccine wasn’t “a personal choice” – and neither was it some moral failing because I haven’t worked out enough.

Catherine wrote a post last week that alluded to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ridiculous assertion that crossfit will protect her from covid. There is persistent, rising buzz of moralistic discourse within the fitness and wellness community that if we “eat clean,” take supplements, work out and otherwise “keep our immune systems functioning,” we don’t need vaccines.

This perspective is everywhere, nudging its way to the surface. My chiropractor told my friend, who is also her client, that she’s not planning to get vaccinated “unless they require it for me to travel somewhere.” People I like regularly post comments about vaccines being “a personal choice.” This perspective — which I’ve heard in many places — piggybacks on the notion that masks are a “personal choice” — and which then falls into the incendiary rhetoric that anyone who follows a mask mandate is a “sheeple.” (Which people flew onto our facebook page to post after Catherine’s post last week).

The anti-mask/anti-vax discourse tends to fall into four interconnected categories:

  1. “I’m not scared, YOU are, I shouldn’t have to adjust my life based on your fear”
  2. “I take care of my body, if you don’t that’s not my problem”
  3. “You’re not the boss of me”
  4. “Science is just one of many belief systems, and I trust a different belief system more.”

There is a fifth zone, more in the vaccine hesitancy realm, that I have a lot more patience with: “I’m not opposed on principle to vaccines, but I am uncertain about this one because of the speed /I have X condition and I’m not sure if this will make it worse.” That is a different animal, from my point of view. But the more overt anti-vax, anti-mask perspectives engender some serious impatience in me.

It’s true, I’m not the boss of you. And science IS imperfect. And I don’t like being bossed around either. But all of this comes down to the notion that something that has a profound collective impact — herd immunity, protecting people from random illness and maybe death — is an individual choice.

I wonder how all of those nose-dick maskers reconcile the fact that the covid test is LITERALLY A SWAB UP YOUR NOSE

My mother always said “my right to swing my arm stops where your face begins.” And I think we are in a space where many people literally don’t understand where each other’s face begins. We are literally in a place where we cannot control the swing of a potential virus flying out of our mouths (and noses, all you nose-dick maskers). If you aren’t managing that virus flying out of your face, it’s going to hit me in the face. And much as I WISH I could sheer will-away or hug-away or cross-fit away or vitamin-D and zinc-away the impact that virus is going to have on me, I cannot. I work out every day, I’m a fit person, I eat well, I take vitamin D and probiotics, I’m the person who insists on taking the stairs whenever I can — but I also have asthma, and every year for the past decade, except for this past year of isolation and harm reduction, I’ve had at least one virus that made me so ill I couldn’t function, and then lingered in the form of a cough for weeks and weeks.

I don’t think I have to talk about how ableist the notion is that if you’re just “fit enough” (i.e., moral enough, work hard enough), you don’t have to “choose” a vaccine. It’s ableist, it’s privileged, and it’s profoundly selfish. When I have to interact with the property manager of my building who refuses to wear a mask at all in his office, I don’t see a brave, independent man, I see a selfish, badly informed person I don’t trust to make decisions about the safety of our community. When I hear my chiropractor say she would only get vaccinated for her convenience of travel, I see someone I can’t trust to understand science. And who isn’t interested in protecting me as her client.

Basically, this is nonsense.

A fitness coach I used to take classes from posted this image about “the collective is not owed safety or protection at the expense of the individual” on her IG feed. I suspect the people who ascribe to this kind of nonsense don’t think their way through it. Do they believe that the individual desire to drive on any part of the road supercedes the collective decision that roads go in agreed-upon directions? To drive 200 km an hour on the city streets, regardless of how many little collectives of children there are trying to cross? To not expect the collective health and knowledge system to scrape them up and put them back together when they crash? Do they believe that the collective norms about defecating in the street are just individual choices, and it’s a matter of free will whether or not to just poop on the sidewalk in front of their houses?

Understanding anti-masking and anti-vaxxing is complex. The Lancet published an excellent piece recently suggesting that there is a lot to learn from cults about creating dialogue with anti-vaxxers. They encourage us to approach what feels like irrational faith with understanding. When I do that, what I hear is fear. Anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are afraid for their health, like everyone, and they’re afraid of the unknown. My perception is that if they frame masks or vaccines as a choice, they don’t have to acknowledge how little personal agency we truly have when faced with biology, with viruses. With death. And with our own mortality.

I’m old enough that my covid vaccine went into my arm just underneath the faint scar I still have from the smallpox jab I had when I was 3 or 4. I’m among the last cohort who had to get a smallpox vaccine. Because vaccination eradicated it, through individual recognition of collective responsibility and social accountability.

Where we are right now is a hard, fatiguing, tiring place. There are reasons why some people can’t wear masks, and why some people can’t get vaccines. This current round of vaccines is an evidence-based experiment that does carry some risk. I’m not denying that. But we are a community. A fitness community, a community of citizens, a community of fragile, vulnerable and brave humans. Wherever we can, we have to take on some risk for the benefit of the whole.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who had a lot to say on this topic. This is her vaccine selfie. Stayed tuned for more on this topic in many voices this afternoon.

fitness · health

Pushing for Equality on World Health Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated April 7 as World Health Day and calls for us all to reflect on health, the conditions need for good health, health care, and access to that care.

The theme for 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world – is about recognizing that good health and good health care is something that everyone deserves, not just some people in some places.

This is, obviously, a complex issue. We could (and do!) have a lot of discussions about what ‘health’ means and we could (and do!) discuss the myriad of ways that bias and prejudice affect access to health and health care, even in the wealthiest parts of the world. But the complexity of the issue doesn’t mean that we cannot begin to address it.

I like how the World Health Organization has structured this year’s campaign to both acknowledge the inequalities and to call on the world’s leaders to improve access to health care.

Their phrasing about the unequal access to the conditions for good health applies just as much to changes needed for health care in remote villages as it does those needed to assist a marginalized person seeking health care in a wealthy city:

This [inequality] is not only unfair: it is preventable. That’s why we are calling on leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.  At the same time we urge leaders to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people are able to access quality health services when and where they need them. from the World Health Day website

Image description: a poster with a light blue background featuring a  sketch of an exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads "hello world.  we agree that health is a right, not a privilege. it's time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere." The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image.
Image description: a poster with a light blue background featuring a sketch of an exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads “hello world. we agree that health is a right, not a privilege. it’s time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere.” The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image. Source: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2021

While their campaign extends to equity in health care of all kinds, there is also a special focus on access to resources and treatments to fight COVID-19.

From their website: “COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.

Image description: a black background featuring a  sketch of a blue exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads "hello world.  we must make covid-19 vaccines tests and treatments available to all. it's time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere." The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image.
Image description: a black background featuring a sketch of a blue exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads “hello world. we must make covid-19 vaccine tests and treatments available to all. it’s time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere.” The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image. Source: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2021

There are lots of groups and activists who have been raising awareness and taking action on these issues throughout the world. Still, the general perception is that health (and access to proper health care) is an individual issue/problem or accomplishment. In that system of thinking, individuals are blamed or judged for their health status.

I hope that this campaign and others like it helps more people to see the systemic issues and misguided policies that fuel the inequalities in health and health care around the world.

Since this issue is so complex, and since the call is to world leaders rather than to individuals, it seems difficult for one person (especially those of us with little political clout) to take any action to make a difference.

But, just like with any change, we have to start small.

If you know of a resource, a petition, or an organization that is seeking change in access to healthy living or working conditions for people anywhere in the world, or if you know of one that is working for change in health care access, please share it in the comments so others can find out about it and take whatever action they can.

feminism · fit at mid-life · fitness

Moving for Me, #podcast

It feels like months ago. Maybe it was. I’ve lost all sense of time in the pandemic. I was interviewed for a new podcast, Peace by Piece.

What’s Peace by Piece all about? “While we don’t always see it, gender-based violence is all around us. At Anova, we believe in a future without violence. But what does a future without violence look like? How do we get there? Peace by Piece is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Dr. AnnaLise Trudell. In this podcast, we have meaningful and educational conversations with experts and innovators about what makes a world without violence.

In each episode of Peace by Piece, we identify tools and approaches that breakdown gender-based violence, unpack the systems that perpetuate violence, and piece together how we can confront and stop gender-based violence all together.

Episodes range between 45 minutes and an hour and are available on all major podcast listening platforms.”

Here’s their blurb about the episode I’m in,” Tune in to our chat with @SamJaneB, co-founder of @FitFeminists about feminism & how fitness can & should be for everyone, no matter their age, size, gender, or ability! Subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or visit: http://anovafuture.org/podcast/

rest · self care

Why the 5-Minute Rides Count on Peloton

I never thought I’d get a Peloton. But the pandemic and … well, we all know how that story goes. Now I have one in my guest room and I’m on it almost every day.  First, you should know that, unlike Sam and Cate, I don’t race or join challenges to climb Everest or the like. I have never joined a live class. And I always hide the leaderboard away (that’s where you can see your ranking against everyone who has ever done the same class and “race” against them while you ride, even if the ride isn’t live).

Peloton bike in my guest room in front of windows and next to soft orange chair

Call me a dilettante, if you want. There’s worse to come.

I count every ride. I do not delete any rides from my tally. Peloton makes a big deal about counting rides. I just passed my 50th ride. I’m way new at this. During live classes, instructors give shout outs to riders who have hit milestones. I hear a lot of 500s and 1000s and even numbers over 2000. How is that even possible?

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of short rides. Other Pelotonites create stacks, to customize their longer rides. I love the shorter options, because the most common way I use Peloton is as the backup singer for another workout. I’ll shorten my run and do a 10 to 15-minute ride when I get home. That has the double bonus of reenforcing my running strength, but also easing out my legs, which get stiff from the pounding. I’m surprised by how much looser and freer my legs feel as a result of this small habit change. Also, this training technique was effective enough for me to get back to running on March 2nd (after 7 weeks of only cross-country skiing) and run a half marathon with a friend on March 27th. Or I ride for 15-20 minutes before a Pilates class. It’s only really once (max twice) a week that I ride for 45 minutes or longer. And, when I do, I’ve started doing the cool down rides on offer when I finish. Taking that option was a psychological hurdle for me.

For a long time (okay the first six weeks of owning the bike) I no-thanks’d the cool down rides Peloton suggested. Five more minutes? What a waste of time. If I wasn’t going hard-hard-hard, why was I on the bike? Then one day, I was so utterly maxed out when I finished my ride that I decided I had to cool down, or I might just get off the bike, tighten up into a tiny ball of lactic acid and then blow apart in a geyser of sweat.

Revelation. The cool down ride was fantastic. Just what I needed. Brought down my heartrate. Brought myself back into focus. Prepared to meet my day with an even energy. I know, that’s putting a lot on a 5-minute ride. But taking that extra time gives my body a real, physically tangible benefit and has a symbolic value that resonates beyond the workout. Some people don’t think the cool down rides count in the ride count. I agreed, until I started doing them. Like rest days, so critical to our body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate, the cool down honours our body’s need for a runway landing after an intense effort. I was so used to crashing into the finish and bump-bump-bumping off the bike and into my day, that the smooth-as-silk-pajamas transition from intensity to cool down to hello-rest-of-the-day came as a surprise. 

Yes, I am talking about that how we do one thing is how we do anything business. For me, scaling back is its own kind of effort. As much as I love naps and am reasonably diligent around taking a rest day once a week and don’t work myself to the bone, I also do have a tendency to overschedule and not leave enough transition time to reset my nervous system between commitments. Long ago, I used to get a thrill out of arriving almost late for a plane and sprinting through the airport. I think it was a reaction against my father, who liked to arrive hours in advance, stressing about whether he was early enough (and I take here a moment to acknowledge that a few days ago was six years since my father died and I like to include him in some way in my April posts; I miss a lot about him, but not his pre-travel hand wringing).

Cool down rides count. Because they flush toxins and seal in the benefits of our workout.

Cool down rides count. Because they are role models of how to be gentle with ourselves.

Cool down rides count. Because everything we do counts.

Not to get all earnest and mushy on you, I do mean everything. Take five to regroup and check in. Be kind to yourself. Then it will be easier to be kind to the people around you. Oh, and the planet, too.

camping · cycling · fitness

Planning our bike packing trip with the bob trailer

Bob trailer

Bike packing is all the rage these days. In part, because in pandemic times, it’s a completely independent outdoors thing we can do. It also follows on the heels of the gravel bike trend since those bikes are perfect for mixed surface roads, camping, and carrying stuff.

I’ve done it in the past on rail trails, camping along the way, but it’s been a few years.

This summer we’re trying it again. To help with back country camping trips with our canoe and my bad knees we bought some lightweight camping gear that will also work well for bike packing.

Come June Sarah and I are heading out on the Simcoe Loop Trail: “The Simcoe County Loop Trail is a 160-kilometer loop that travels through nine municipalities, reaches three major bodies of water, including Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Couchiching. And, it is primarily on off-road, multi-use rail-trails! The route is flat, scenic and available as a multi-day tour.”

The plan is to park in Barrie and bike 40 km to Mara Park where we have a camping reservation

On Day 2 we’ll ride from Mara Park to Midland, 60 km ish where we’ve booked a bunkie.

And then on Day 3 it’s back to Barrie, 60 km.

On our gravel bikes with stuff we’re not that speedy–covering about 15-20 km/hr.

Long time readers will remember an earlier appearance of the bob trailer. Jeff and I used it with our road bikes on our biking holiday on Manitoulin Island. That time we didn’t camp and it was just used for clothes etc. This time we’ll be taking tent and sleeping bags etc. I’ll carry clothes etc in my bike panniers.

Do you do any bike packing? Any hints for us? Tell us your bike packing stories in the comments below.

Simcoe Trail booklet
dogs · fitness · motivation · walking

On this glum day, Christine is grateful Khalee needs a walk.

You’re reading this on Tuesday but I’m writing it on Monday.

I’ve been stuck between metaphorical gears all day.

There’s nothing wrong and I’m not feeling down or anything, I’m just not…something.

It might be because I had a lot of administrative dreams last night. (You know, the kind where you spend the whole night putting things in order?*) So I woke up tired.

Or maybe it’s because the weather looks like this here today.

A paved path with trees on the side on an overcast,  foggy day.
It’s just so inspiring and uplifting, isn’t it? (Does sarcasm work when you can’t hear me say it?) Image Description: a paved path with sparse trees on either side. It’s overcast and foggy.

Whatever the reason, I’ve spent the day feeling glum and kind of vaguely dissatisfied with the work I was doing.

I know how to shake this feeling, of course.

*All* I have to do is to get moving.

But when you are feeling meh, it’s hard to motivate yourself.

And when you are feeling meh and you have ADHD, motivation is even harder to come by.

That’s where our heroine, Khalee, comes to the rescue.

Because she needs a walk, it’s an automatic part of my day.

A light haired  dog in    a red and white shirt sniffs the air on a paved path.
I love how Khalee sniffs the air like this when we are on a walk. I think it helps her decide which path to take each time. (We follow her nose.) Image description: a light-haired dog in a red shirt covered in white hearts is standing on a paved path. She is facing away from the camera and her nose is lifted as she sniffs the air.

So, despite the fog, despite the chill, despite my lack of motivation, late this afternoon, I bundled up and took Khalee for a stroll.

As we walked along, looking around and taking deep breaths, I started to feel a lot better.

I started smiling at Khalee, sniffing her way along, wearing the dog shirt that I refer to as her ‘pyjamas.’

And I was filled with gratitude for this good pup whose simple need for exercise helped drag me out of today’s doldrums.

A light haired   dog looking directly into the camera.
Here’s Khalee Pup (a.k.a. KP) after I called out ‘Hey, Good Girl!‘ so she would turn around. She knows how good she is. Image description: a light haired dog, wearing a red shirt with white hearts on it, looks directly at the camera.

I was still tired but I didn’t feel meh at all anymore.

Thanks for taking your Christine out for a walk, KP, she really needed it.

*Last night, in separate dreams, I was searching for a piece of paper that doesn’t exist in real life, I was trying to remind my husband of things that aren’t happening in real life, and I was trying to teach a sewing class over Zoom (also not happening in real life- which is best for all concerned.)

fitness · inclusiveness · Zwift

In favour of April Fools’ Day Trikes and Inclusive Representation

First, the joke.

On April Fools Day Zwift swapped out their regular virtual bikes for virtual trikes. I laughed and laughed. My twenty something son said that I had a low bar for amusement. That might be true. Maybe it’s even part of the joy of aging. But I did enjoy zooming around on big wheel bike, especially in the peleton (see below). They disappeared for our team time trial that day. When we entered the event we were on our regular bikes. Frankly I was just relieved that Zwift didn’t swap our planned route Watopia Waistband for the Alpe on the occasion of April 1.

Top: A group of riders on trikes. Bottom: Sam on her Zwift trike.

Second, the trikes got people thinking.

Rebecca Dobiesz posted this comment in a Zwift women’s group I’m in, “So yes, the April Fool’s joke is funny, entertaining, and a nice surprise. But I wish they spent that graphic design time (or any other time) developing more skin tones, more body types, non-binary avatars, more body feature colors and sizes, non-able bodied avatars, prosthetics, women with more muscle tone, etc. Has this crossed anyone else’s mind today? I hope with all the other initiatives they have started, these avatar designs are already in the works and have been for some time.
(I shouldn’t have to say this but please don’t bash this with negativity. If anything I hope this allows us all to reflect on diversity and the importance of representation.) Ride on!”

Other people suggested that if Zwift could manage virtual rain in London (why, Zwift, why?) that they could also give people the choice to have their avatar bike match the bike they were actually riding. For example, some Zwifters ride handcycles but in the virtual world they’re on road bikes/mtbs like everyone else. It would be great to have other more adaptive cycling options represented in the game. See here for a discussion of this point.

There are lots of discussions of avatar hair options too. Me, I just want an avatar closer to my actual size. In Zwift women only come in small and medium, while men come in small, medium, and large. It’s part of my push for better representation of large and strong women’s bodies.

So to be clear, I loved the joke. Like Rebecca, I just want more options–more inclusion of all types of riders–in my virtual world.

How about you? What would you add if you could to better represent the kind of riding you do and the kind of rider you are?

Left: Sam riding solo on her Zwift trike. Right: Sam riding in a Zwift peloton of trikes.