fitness · illness

Sam’s 7 part social distancing fitness plan

You’ve all heard the case for social distancing and the need to #FlattenTheCurve. Like many people I’ve said goodbye to the gym for now. I’m not going to group yoga classes either. Which is sad because I’ve come to love our local studio’s restorative yoga with live music class. But you don’t have to read too many articles like this to think maybe working out at home is a better idea.

So for the foreseeable future I’m either working out outside or at home. Here are my options:

1. Yoga with Adriene: I like doing yoga at home even though Cheddar likes to take part and often gets in the way. Usually I do Yoga with Adriene so it’s Cheddar and Benji, the yoga dogs. I’ve also downloaded the DownDog yoga app on the advice of a colleague and friend.

2. Indoor cycling: I love Zwift and the Bike Shed is my one concession to exercise not at home. I’m riding my own bike there though and there’s lots of space between the people riding. Mostly it’s just me and Sarah there. This month I’m going to do some more Swarm rides.

3. TRX at home: I love the TRX classes at the university but in lieu of that Sarah is moving her TRX to Guelph and we’re installing an anchor in the ceiling so we can use it here. I’m not sure what app or routine I’ll use. Advice? I do my best work with people talking and telling me what to do. Here’s a list of 44 amazingly, effective TRX exercises.

4. Kettle bell: I used to love the kettle bell routines at CrossFit. I even bought my own but since I was doing classes I didn’t much use it. And then I lost it in the move. Two years later it still hasn’t turned up and so I bought I new one. (I know, now I’ll find the old one.) I’ve downloaded a few kettle bell apps.

5. Dog walking: I can’t walk much these days but I still love walking Cheddar in the woods. There will definitely be some walking in the woods with dogs.

Dogs in the woods: Cheddar and Emilie

6. Outdoor riding. The season is almost here. If I’m outdoors and not near other people, riding is definitely I thing I can do. There are some great tips here: Cycling during coronavirus. (If running is more your thing, here is the running version.)

7. Plank challenge: You can read about Sam and Cheddar and the plank challenge.

What are you doing? What are you not doing? How are you handling these strange and scary times?

cycling · fitness

Sam goes SWARM-ing!

This March, in a special collaboration with Machines for Freedom, women are taking Zwift by swarm. Find out about the ride schedule here.

Pink swarm jerseys

I’ve been riding in Zwift for awhile now but mostly it’s been with friends in the real world, riding side by side in the bike studio, while also riding together virtually. Hi Sarah and Susan and Ellen and Kim and David and Jeff!

That’s fun and for me it’s the closest thing to a real world weekend ride with friends, right down to the brunch afterwards. But on weeknights friends aren’t always free and Sarah’s workdays can end pretty late. So when I saw the social media campaigns around Machines For Freedom March women’s social group rides in honor of International Women’s Day I thought I’d give it a try.

Sam at the Bike Shed

How was it? Fun! The hour passed quickly which I like. I was there early because I was worried about missing the start due to a technical glitch. But I wasn’t sure once I joined the event if I’d get to warm up and how that would work. I didn’t want to ride away early in the virtual world of Watopia. Luckily though there were virtual trainers in addition to the real world trainer my bike was hooked up to.

There was some chatter and introductions by text that scrolled on the right side while we waited. There were about 50 women there early, more joined later, and I don’t know the total number. When you’re riding in Zwift you don’t much care about speed as watts, and about watts per kilo. This ride was advertised at 1.5 watts per kilo. Speed in cycling is all about power and weight but I like it that it shows your watts per kilo and your watts but people have to do some math to determine your weight.

I was nervous about getting dropped and so I took off far too fast (classic problem, rookie mistake, I’ve done this in the real world too) and I was at the front with a bunch of speedsters. I slowed down and tried to wait up for the main group and that didn’t work. Or I wasn’t patient enough. You guess. Anyway, I sped back up and met up with the front group. We slowed down to the advertised watts per kilo and rode together for most of the ride. Sarah joined us at the 2/3 done point (traffic on her way home from work in Toronto) but she couldn’t join in an the official event. That made communication tricky as she could see virtual me but I could only see event participants.

There was a ride leader with a yellow cone floating above her head and a ride sweep with an orange cone. You could see them in the list of riders on the right.

Zwift photos. Me on my virtual blue trainer. Above me and my gang of fellow cyclists all wearing the spiffy pink kit.

The ride hosts were excellent and answered lots of beginner Zwift questions.

Like, why do people have blue things stuffed in their back pockets? (Answer: They are “ride-ons” or the Zwift equivalent of “likes.” They appear as floating thumbs up over your ride and land in your jersey pocket.)

There were lots of Canadians on this ride. The time of day made sense for East coast folks. It was 8 pm EDT. But there were also people from warm places and that surprised me. Turned out there were a bunch of the riders who were quarantined for covid-19 reasons and this was the only kind of group riding they could do.

The way things are going Zwift could be a busy place over the summer. Road cyclists sometime joke that in the summer Zwift is a ghost town but for triathletes doing laps around Watopia. (I would never say that. Some of my best friends are triathletes.) That might change this year.

I’ll definitely try to ride with them again. I confess I’m even tempted to buy the kit. My avatar got the virtual version free for doing the ride and I can buy the IRL version from Machines for Freedom. Isn’t capitalism wonderful?

“This special jersey is part of the HIVE Collection, a collab from the badass bees at Machines. Bees are a symbol of light, power, celebration and community. They thrive with the hive and are led by a Queen. Busy and hardworking, they always find time to stop and smell the roses. Sounds just like the women we know, and love to ride with! All women will unlock the HIVE Collection limited edition kit after completing any event in the series. The kit, along with a cap and water bottle, are also available for your IRL rides here!”

Interested in trying Zwift? Here are some tips for beginning Zwifters.

fitness · illness

Sam decides to take a break from the gym

Waving orange cat!

Goodbye gym. I’ll be back but in this time of the novel coronavirus, I’ve decided to take a break.

We all make our own risk decisions and I get it that others will decide differently. That’s fine. This is my call given that I live with a vulnerable person and I work out at a university gym with young people who may be sick and not notice. I’ve read lots about gyms and safety and I know this is a conservative decision.

If you’re trying to make your call, this is helpful: Gyms and Coronavirus: What Are the Risks?

Just remember, it’s not just about you. Jeff makes that point about the larger social good pretty well in the context of conference travel in this blog post over at Boating Adventures.

In the meantime, I’ll be riding my bike (inside and out), planking with Cheddar, using our home TRX, doing Yoga with Adriene, and maybe doing a home kettlebell routine. I’ve never been a great home exerciser but all the knee physio I’ve been doing might have turned that around.

I’ll stay in touch. Wish me luck!

Share your decisions about changes you’ve made to your life, the what and the why, in the comments below, but let’s also respect each others’ choices. These aren’t easy calls to make. We’re all getting by, doing our best. And washing our hands lots.

fitness · illness · weight lifting

Fitness in the time of pandemics: Working out alone or together, at home or at the gym?

It feels selfish to be writing about fitness from the perspective of staring down a possible pandemic, but I confess when I think about home quarantine from my self-interested point of view, exercise is one of things I think about. It’s not just keeping my fitness I’m worried about, though there is that. Working out and movement feel like they’re central to my emotional health and mental well-being.

That’s not all I think about of course when it comes to the possible coronavirus pandemic.

Over on Twitter, I think about covid-19 from the perspective of an academic administrator.

I worry about it a lot as a humanitarian crisis.

I worry about it as a problem for society when I have friends tweeting about cheap airfares. I think there’s an obligation to do all that we can do to slow down transmission of the virus. Likely that means staying home.

As a feminist philosopher, and as a human being, I worry about how quickly people move to say that covid-19 isn’t that dangerous because it’s only really a threat to the elderly and those with underlying conditions. What does that say about which lives we value?

I like this reframing.

I worry about political systems, especially south of the border, and the need for affordable health care, paid sick leave, and testing.

Lots to worry about but I like it that’s there’s some practical things we can all do to prepare.

Again, I like the framing this piece on preparing for pandemics as a pro-social action offers us.

“Be ready? But how? It seems to me that some people may be holding back from preparing because of their understandable dislike of associating such preparation with doomsday or “prepper” subcultures. Another possibility is that people may have learned that for many people the disease is mild, which is certainly true, so they don’t think it’s a big risk to them. Also, many doomsday scenarios advise extensive preparation for increasingly outlandish scenarios, and this may seem daunting and pointless (and it is). Others may not feel like contributing to a panic or appearing to be selfish.

Forget all that. Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.”

But back to fitness. And back to just thinking about why I might do if I had to spend stretches of time isolated from others.

I take it there’s no reason not to ride my bike out alone in the world. I can carry my own snacks. While big races are being cancelled, there is no reason not to ride outside of big crowds, assuming I’m not actually quarantined.

There’s also Yoga with Adriene and walks in the woods with Cheddar. Both will be just fine even if I’m staying at home more to avoid public gatherings.

I’m not sure what I think about working out at the gym, especially the student gym though. And I’m not sure what I think about yoga in the close quarters of the studio.

Lots of photos of walking in the snow with Cheddar and a bonus friend’s dog. Hi Emilie!

I also belong to a 24 hour discount fitness club. Maybe I could go there and take disinfectant wet wipes, wash my hands often, and work out there in the wee hours? I’m not sure. I’m considering buying a set of dumbbells for home use.

A gym, Photo by Mark Bertulfo on Unsplash

Certainly we’ll set up our home TRX.

Here’s the fitness routine of quarantined racing cyclists!

What are your thoughts about the gym in times of avoiding crowds and germ-y surfaces? I’m still thinking this through. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

If you’re still thinking about what all of this means for you, I recommend following Helen Branswell on Twitter and following STAT news on coronovirus. Normally that’s behind a paywall but it’s free now for that topic only. Also give The Coronavirus isn’t going away a listen.