The Final Rep, Issue 7: The Power of Women in Movement
Why I love teaming up with other women so much.
I will never forget the 5,000-meter women’s track and field event at the 2016 Olympic Games. With more than a mile to go, Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand tripped and fell, and the athlete right behind her, the United States’ Abbey D’Agostino, collided with her and tumbled to the track, too. D’Agostino quickly got up, helped Hamblin to her feet and they both started running again—or tried to do so. D’Agostino badly hurt her ankle (she’d get taken out on a wheelchair later) and fell to the ground again. This time, Hamblin returned the favor and helped her to her feet. Eventually, they both finished the race. (Watch the full clip here for some tears.)
I’ll also never forget how Des Linden waited for fellow American runner, Shalane Flanagan as she stopped to use the bathroom during the 2018 Boston Marathon. Despite the pause, Linden went on to win the race. She told ABC News she stuck around to help block the wind for Flanagan and so they could find their way back to the leaders pack together.
The most decorated track and field star, Allyson Felix, along with Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher, speaking up for female athletes and their career value before, during, and after becoming a mom also stands out in my mind, along with the 2019 U.S. Women’s World Cup team and their fight for equal pay.
All of these women demonstrate the power and pay-offs of lifting other women up while dominating their own sport. They show kindness, compassion, and just straight-up badassery that not only propels these athletes forward but the women around them too. And it illustrates just one of the countless reasons I try to cultivate strong female relationships, both in the wellness world and beyond it.
I’ve had the real pleasure of being surrounded by awesome women since birth, thanks to my sisters and mom. Over the years, I’ve also made life-long female friends and I’ve gotten to work with some incredible women in fitness, whether it’s trainers I’ve interviewed for stories, co-workers at studios, or fellow fitness editors.
Considering I worked at a women-only gym that took pride not in helping women sculpt a six-pack, but in empowering them to pick up a heavier set of weights and take up more space in the world, you can imagine why I loved taking classes there too. I couldn’t leave that studio without getting an uplifting compliment on my cool leggings, right along with my stellar deadlift form or impressive weight choice. I walked out of there almost every day feeling like I had a crew to listen to my struggles, coach me through them, then build me up to my best performance.
That’s something I seriously miss in 2020: hanging with fellow female athletes who push me in workouts while also giving me a boost of confidence. Thankfully, I got a virtual dose of this comradery a couple of weeks ago, when I ran the Asics World Ekiden marathon relay. With a group of five other fitness editors—who I used to see almost weekly at industry events in the city—we conquered 26.2 miles together, texting each other along the way. I even got to run half of my 10K leg of the race with a fellow Brooklynite (and Runner’s World/Bicycling editor), Molly, who turned my millionth lap of Prospect Park into one of my favorites of the year.
I so appreciated the amount of “you got this,” “way to go,” and “congrats” texts we shared in the weeks leading up to race day, during my hour-long run, and after we all stopped the clock. It was enough to make any runner feel like they just crushed a top-place finish, even if we didn’t quiiite make the leaderboard. Sharing heart emojis and selfies doesn’t exactly compare to the beer and brunch celebrations of a typical race day, but it definitely perked me up and brought more excitement and connection to the run. And I would definitely do a virtual, friend-fueled race again (hint, hint).
One meme I know I’ve shared on group chats with my BFFs states, “behind every successful woman is a group text hyping her up.” And yes, I have become that person who quotes memes now, but it’s also just true, especially of that Asics race week.
Sometimes I need a little pep talk from my GFs to get me out the door, whether it’s for a workout or otherwise. Those talks always seem to give me a little shot of adrenaline, getting me through tough times and helping me celebrate the good ones. I’m a firm believer that you can always count on strong women to get you to the finish of a hard race, even if they have to pick you up and carry you across the line. So this week I shout out not only my teammates for the Ekiden (aka The Em—Dashers) who lifted me up and kept me running, but all the women in the room whose success is bigger than themselves.
A few other people’s words about wellness I’ve read (and loved) recently:
1. Speaking of badass women, Keira D’Amato just broke the American record for a 10-mile race—one she put together herself—crossing the finish line in 51 minutes and 23 seconds. D’Amato had taken a decade off from running, but after she had her daughter in 2016, she got back out on the road for some stress relief. Elite athletes, they’re just like us… except exceptionally fast. Read more about it on Women’s Running.
2. For all the skiers and the snowboards out there, The New York Times featured some underdog mountains all across the country in “7 Places Where the Slopes Are Less Skied.” Sounds like Epic passes and early reserved tickets will be the way to go this year.
3. An oldie but a real goodie, I just had to include an article about all the powerful women changing the game in sports. Check out The New York Time’s “8 Times Women in Sports Fought for Equality” to see who has broken down athletic barriers. I also can’t talk about women in sports without mentioning the newsletter about this very topic, Power Plays, written by freelance sports reporter, Lindsay Gibbs.
4. For a list of inspiring, impressive change-makers in movement and the outdoors, Outside’s “Outsiders of the Year” is a must-read. From runners to surfers to bikers, these leaders show the impact sports have on culture, community, and politics.
The latest updates on the fitness industry:
· New York Road Runners—the biggest race organization in the city—announced that CEO, Michael Capiraso, will step down at the end of the year. The news came after complaints of racism, sexism, and financial mismanagement.
· Tracksmith, a running apparel brand, just released their list of 2020 fellowship winners, supporting projects like podcasts, documentaries, and photo essays, that support the sport of running.
Here’s one form cue that always resonates with clients…
These words tend to work for individuals I train as an ah-ha moment for feeling stronger in a move or activating the right muscles. I’ve had a few clients recently who, when stepping back into a reverse lunge, tend to settle into it by slightly leaning back. This can put pressure on the low back/spine. So in your reverse lunge, make sure shoulders stay right over hips, core engaged like you’re in a plank. If you do feel it in the low back, think about taking a slight lean forward from the hips.
One move to add to your exercise routine…
Thumbs up lateral raise. A great exercise for the delts/shoulders, it also protects the rotator cuff, or the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. To do it, hold a dumbbell in each hand, down by sides. Palms should face outward. With shoulders down away from ears, lift weights to shoulder height, thumbs facing up. Go slow. Then lower back down and repeat.
For a full workout, try…
Another Nike interval run for you! Because I can’t get enough and I want you to enjoy them too. This time, try “Speed Run with Ellie.” It’s a super quick interval run, spanning just 17 minutes. You’ll run a few different paces, with rest between. Plus, Australian soccer player Ellie Carpenter’s voice is just fun to listen to while you sprint.
The gear I’m loving to get me out the door…
When you need an extra layer for your runs, but not a full-on jacket, try the Lululemon Down For It All Vest—my favorite run accessory for the current weather. It has tons of pockets and keeps me super warm without feeling bulky or puffy. It’s also the perfect length, even on a shorty like me. Hint for when you wash it: put it in the dryer. It’ll clump up if you let it air dry (lesson learned over here, whoops!).
Thanks for reading! If you want this in your inbox every Wednesday at noon, subscribe. And tell your friends! I also love hearing from you, so let me know what you think of the newsletter and what movement means to you. I’m on Instagram and Twitter too.