Women wore what?!

I would like to thank my good friend Jennifer Fabulous of I know, right? for contributing this wonderful post!

Love Zumba?

Imagine doing it in a corset! You might as well wear a straight jacket.

When physical exercise first became popular in the 1800s, however, women didn’t have a choice.

While calisthenics performed to music (an early form of aerobics) and other fitness programs were introduced during this time period, they weren’t very popular in the US. People were more interested in getting physical exercise via competitive sports.

But in the Victorian era, it was not socially acceptable for women to participate in competitive sports, so clothes were not designed to allow women to excel.

For example, women who played golf were forced to wear high-necked, long-sleeved blouses, bowler hats, full-length skirts, and button shoes. Unlike men’s golf clothes which boasted performance enhancements, the women’s attire was dreadfully uncomfortable and not user-friendly to the sport at all.

By 1910, however, golf allowed women to have expanding pleats down the sides of their tweed jackets to prevent clothes tearing when they did a golf swing. In 1917, the fashion magazine Vogue was urging women to nix their overskirts when mountain-climbing and ski in their horseback riding trousers.

The same restrictive clothing from the Victorian era also applied to female tennis players.

But in 1922 Suzanne Lenglen, one of the world’s first female sports stars, created a media frenzy when she dressed for tennis at Wimbledon wearing a short skirt and no hat. Her boldness shocked the world.

Because of her bravery, in 1930 a bare head was deemed acceptable for tennis playing.

In 1932, American tennis legend Alice Marble stunned the world even more by strutting onto court white shorts.

Both women greatly influenced the change of women’s sportswear forever.

By the 1930s, pants were slowly becoming acceptable everyday wear for women, particularly in the US.

By the end of the decade, women were participating in numerous competitive sports, such as golf, running, tennis, skiing, golf, and archery. With this change, sportswear adapted as well. Short dresses were acceptable for tennis. Slacks and light jackets were acceptable for golf.

After World War II, the invention of nylon, the first man made fiber, was introduced to the world. It prove revolutionary for sportswear, as it allowed for stretchability. For example, nylon running shorts were invented and elastic waists were added to pants.

By the 1970s, fitness wear was quickly making its mark on mainstream fashion. Huge advances in breathable fabrics were made. Color was incorporated into sports attire. Thermal underwear became a staple. The track suit was invented. By this time, exercise had become a regular part of people’s lives. They were jogging, pumping iron, and working out at gyms.

The momentum led to the explosion of the fitness craze of the 1980s. Aerobics classes, such as Jazzercise, took over the decade.

This decade also saw the leg warmers obsession amongst teenage girls and young women. Leg warmers were originally worn by dancers to keep muscles from cramping after stretching. However, films like Flashdance and Fame made them a fashion statement.

Leg warmers weren’t the only gym clothes to become a fashion staple in the 1980s. Brightly colored shell suits were all the rage with women. They not only wore them to dance class, but also to pick up their kids from school and run errands. The trend was so overwhelming, companies began producing more and more hideous looking ones. Fortunately, the shell suit phase died by the 1990s.

Today, the athletic and fitness clothing business is a billion dollar industry. Work out clothes are made by familiar brands such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas. Plus, popular high-end brands, such as Juicy Couture and Victoria’s Secret, also make work-out wear, such as track suits and yoga pants, fashionable for teenage girls and soccer moms. Sports bras are also a must-have for most women.

It’s strange to think we’ve come such a long way in a little over a century, isn’t it?

I just want to thank Julie for suggesting I do a guest post for her on such an interesting topic. I’ve been a fan of her awesome blog since the beginning. And I’ve been a fan of Julie since we were in high school together! 🙂

Thanks for reading!


Last night I had an amazing time doing the Easter Egg Hunt trail run with Crooked River Trail Runners…you may recall my Thursday night group of last year.

Mom joined me for this outting and she can affirm it was a challenge!  Right off the bat we climbed a red brick road of death hill! Once we hit the trail it was mud and roots for miles. The few times it wasn’t mud and roots it was MORE giant hills, one where we climbed over a HUGE fallen tree/log. Eventually we came to a clearing near the highway where we grabbed a plastic egg filled with candy (eew outside candy!) and a raffle #. Then down past the trucks “honking” and onto the mostly flat Towpath for a few easy miles to the finish. I felt strong and I’m not as nervous about the 10-miler tomorrow (Sat). I certainly earned the food afterward! Here is our picture in the parking lot after we finished the 4.4 mile journey.

Wednesday night (after going to Water aerobics and Zumba) I went out with a girl from class LINE DANCING. I had NO idea what I was doing, but everyone seemed so nice and I had a blast!
So in honor of all the great things I get to do with my new and old friends…a post about friendship!
~*~ FRIENDS ~*~
Honestly, the best thing anyone who is getting into fitness can do for success is make a friend, or two, or more. I do not necessarily mean a fitness partner or a fitness sponsor. Not someone who will hold you accountable AKA make you feel guilty or obligated. I mean someone who will make you smile in the process, or after, or leading up to it. A person to share joys and sorrows with, and provide an ear for when the time comes.
During my first few encounters with running, I noticed how everyone seemed to be a member of this huge family. Never did I think running was a community, it always seemed to be an extended family. People didn’t ask each other for finish times or latest achievements; children were told this was “wrong” and “rude”. Instead talk was focused on the enjoyment of the race, the feelings before and after, and the pleasure at seeing the other person. Sure, techniques were discussed, but always in a helpful and curious way. If it had not been for my first running “club” message board, leading to my meeting Frank and Gale, I do not think I’d be a racer. Noticed I did not say I wouldn’t be running…but I am not sure if I would have kept going to different groups and trying to make that connection.
And that is something I often forget now in my fourth year of running. I have my “family” and I have my “extended” family, but I so often forget to include new members. At times I painfully forget how some running clubs seemed elite and snobby, when I was so shaken and unsure. As a member of a half dozen…ok let’s be honest…probably a dozen various running groups, I have my pick when it comes to which serves what purpose. Not everyone lives in an area or has the knowledge I do to work the system. Unfortunately, many people’s first impressions are lasting and final.
For example, the meeting I attended about the perfect race? I didn’t know anyone there, so I decided to sit by myself and wait it out. A woman began talking to me, and I slowly responded back here and there to be polite. We got to talking about a few past races and not to sound arrogant, I single handedly changed her mind about a race and convinced her to give its sister race in the fall a chance. At the end of the night, she took the time to thank me. She said she did not know anyone, this was her first meeting, and she was glad someone took the time to include her. I was blown away as I walked to my car. Had I really forgotten what was at the heart of this all?
Looking back at my many races, I see a pattern in quite a few. Many of my favorite races are those where I took time to talk to someone outside of my own circle. Races, when I helped someone smile and see the good in what was going on around them. Or when someone took the time to remind me it was more than just one foot in front of the other. My first marathon was a horrible experience. My main complaint? Not the pain I felt, the physical illness or the embarrassing finish time. What I hated was being so alone and the hurtful comments by fellow runners in the same position. Barely a year later, I found myself on a 50K course, having one of the greatest days of my life. Guess what? I had pain, physical illness and a not too impressive finishing time. What was different? The people! My friends on the course with me, the aid workers, and every single smile I saw or felt along the way. We are in this together and it is time more people saw it.
Even for those who do not race or attend club meetings, friends can make a difference. Using Twitter to update the accomplishment of a strong work out or doing the same on Facebook. Using statuses to commit to a diet or exercise plan for the day or reaching out for unexpected company. Social media sites are all around for help with finding something to do or someone to partake in it. Afterward you can relive the moments through pictures, stories or videos.
This past semester was the first time I consistently went to the school recreation center to work out. What was my secret? Not the time crunch of graduating, but the joy in having friends to take the classes with me. Familiar faces to welcome me each week and who will bounce ideas back and forth.
Now, I hear you asking…what if I don’t know anyone? This is the tricky part, but it is totally doable! Make new friends. Not friends at the bar you will bribe to go to the gym with you…friends already at the gym. How do you go about doing this? Well, that is going to be your job to find your style and build your confidence. Personally, I would start with that guy or gal you always see on the machine next to you, or out on the track, or if you are already going to classes…within those walls. Perhaps causally asking them one day “Did you find the combo this week a little harder than normal?” Or on the way up the steps “Hey, you’re going to Zumba, right?”
When people work out the happy making hormones and junk are released. So, hopefully strangers will be more open to talking. One word of advice…locker room talk can be troublesome. I would suggest you leave that to a last resort or for the ultimate challenge. Most people do not like to be chatted up while half naked. IMHO. Also, trying to pressure your siblings, housemates or significant other is going to blow up in your face. Even if they give in, their heart won’t match yours. Eventually you will find yourself asking, do they resent me for this? What will I have to do to make up for it? Is this really as terrible as they think? Is something wrong with me for doing this? Or you may just get frustrated with the hoops and walls they create for you and the little spark you felt for fitness won’t develop into a healthy ongoing flame and fire.

On a positive note, with a large and/or new network of friends you get to experience the world vicariously. Never been to Washington? Well, maybe your new on-line buddy lives there and can tell you all about the training conditions. First person in your group to give birth and now you’re a member of the “Mommy Club?” a quick Google search may ease your social sorrows and confusion. Looking for a hot new product? Give-a-ways and reviews might give you a sneak peak at what’s headed to a store near you.

There is a side to fitness other than what it can do to your own mind, spirit and body. It is the people out there searching and molding along with you. Step up to the plate and make a friend. Send a smile across the crowd at the starting line. Stay behind when you finish for a moment and cheer someone in. Hand a banana to the person next to you in line. Volunteer to hand out water at an aid station. Rent a Zumba video on a Friday night…and shake your booty while letting go of the week’s happenings, add wine if you need, just make sure the webcam is off!

Race Report: Spring Classic 2011

Saturday morning I went to the ever wonderful Spring Classic, held at Bonnie Park in Strongsville.

I have attended the spring and fall classics in various forms over the years. One of the biggest draws for me is also one of the biggest complaints I hear from others…the inclusion of children. Before I explain the pros and cons of featuring the youth groups, allow me to clarify I am not affiliated with either group…these are just my opinions.

In the fall the course is open to Girls with Sole. From what I have seen, this is a strong group of girls with very involved and supportive families. (Side note. I went to the website and it turns out this is a support group emphasizing fitness for girls who have been victims of abuse/neglect or who are at risk) Like most kids who are new(er) to running…and some adults…many will start out too fast. Many will stop suddenly to breath or tie a shoe. Some will run side by side or perhaps in little groupings. Part of me thinks they look like a school of fish, rushing around together…fast/slow…fast/slow. The fall kids I don’t think are training for anything major, just running, and seem to know common running “rules”, such as moving to the side, and not running in and out of the crowd.

In the spring …it is a different group. These kids are bussed in from Cleveland. I believe I heard they are training for the Rite Aid Cleveland 10K? Perhaps even the half for some of the older ones? I’m very pleased to hear this and love to see a passion growing for the sport. That being said…this group does NOT seem to know running etiquette. They perform many of the same actions as would be expected from their age…but they DON’T always move to the side. It’s a course of human speed bumps! Many scream/call to each other from large distances, some dart in and out of groups – running backward even. They run 3 to 4 across and some (not all) do not move when you say “passing”. What is one of the most noticeable differences for me? The starting line. In the fall, the children are asked to move to the back, so the faster runners can have the start…and they listen. This past weekend? I didn’t hear anyone ask them to move…so maybe they can’t be faulted…but the start was CHAOTIC. I could barely move with the sea of children/walkers/and FAMILY on the course! I was at a 17 to 18 minute pace until we took the corner onto the main road and Gale and I could break free. YIKES. Especially for a race which isn’t chip timed.

Please don’t think I’m being too sour, I’ve learned to love this aspect of the course. It is one of my favorite things to see the kids and hear them and join in their energy. I do also recognize how it may hinder performance. My group of people race just about every weekend, if it wasn’t for a few races here and there that we do for the FEEL and not the RESULT…we wouldn’t be the runners we are today. Still, some people train and work toward a goal…honestly my advice to them is simply picking a different 5K…there are plenty.

Now the race itself:

Skipping past the general “I woke up, drove to the site and picked up my bag” details. I do want to note I was able to park in my favorite spot, across the street from the main sidewalk instead of literally half a mile away at the bus stop.

Gale and I chatted to a woman named Cathy as we waited for the start of the race. This was Cathy’s first race in a while, and we tried to make her feel relaxed and welcome. Whenever I can I try to reach out to new runners, remembering how overwhelming it was to me to be alone and see all the tight group and family-esque love. We started to run and as I said, it was VERY slow moving at first. We chatted as we approached the main road and as we turned the corner and broke free of the mob, we managed to match each other’s pace rather comfortably. Honestly I was feeling strong as we moved down the road, and I joked about how the last time I was at this race my underwear was falling off and I had bronchitis!

As we neared the first sign, I checked my Garmin…I was liking what I saw, especially after the troubled start. BEEP. Average for mile one? 9:49! Not long after mile one we enter a lollipop type loop. This are is actually a parking section and is where the tables are set up for the water stop. In order to enter you move up and across a small bridge, I love pretending this is some grand accomplishment and as I push myself over the hump I glide down into the parking spots. Because of the lollipop shape the faster runners are on my left. I do my best to keep my form and my smile. Not going to lie, I also gauge how far away I am from the main grouping…and as I make it to the other side I gaze at how many are behind me…and smile.

By this point I’m usually feeling something of discomfort. My toes may be a little numb or my soles a little cramped. Given I was pushing my speed one of my major concerns was a side stitch. The best I could I controlled my breathing and kept my pace. Focusing in on my breath or my turn over or the scenery and ignoring the pinch in my right side.

I’m without Gale before mile 2 (I slowed for water back in the loop). If I wanted to I could catch her, but I didn’t need to overexert myself so I stay where I am. With a wave to the mile 2 sign I look down at my Garmin as another happy BEEP is heard. Average for mile two? 9:53. OK OK I slowed down a bit, but I’m still keeping under 10 and if I try, honestly try, I bet I could bring it in under 30 minutes?

The pain keeps tugging at my side and I’m not liking how my toes feel either. I keep listening to music, watching the smiling faces and telling myself I’m almost done and it’s FLAT and FAST. Strong and steady, strong and steady. Down the main road, around the corner, and I see the crowd standing in the intersection. The 10 mile runners are passing on the other side of the road, and I briefly feel silly for the 2+ miles I have endured compared to the 6 they have already accomplished. Keep smiling, keep the arms relaxed and before I know it I’m greeting the intersection cops and entering the bike path that will wrap me around the pond, through the park and up to the finish shoot.

I yell at Gale to keep going as I see her slow down a tad. Joy fills my head when I hear “5K runners, to your right and into the shoot”…yet disappointment fills my heart when I see a “3” starting the finish time.

According to Garmin my average for mile 3 was 9:55. My average for the last kick was 8:58 though! Overall Garmin time 30:55 with an average of 9:50 for 3.14 miles. Looking back at the start of this review…you will be reminded this was not chip timed and I was behind a sea of kids. Per the race my overall time was 31 something. A minute off from my goal doesn’t seem too daunting. 20 seconds per mile? Still, after the disaster of Towpath…I was pleased to do so well!

In fact…it was “good” enough to get me FIRST PLACE for my age group! Gale also won her age, Pati her age and our friend Matt (remember from the Tri?) won his age as well. We were all more than tickled.

Overall it’s a wonderful race and a wonderful day and I seriously suggest everyone give it a try at least once.