Monday, June 25, 2012

Outdoor Reservations: Women Outside

Young women with good outdoor experiences often have them carry over to other aspects of  life. 
One of the things we try to do here at XTreme XTraining is to encourage women to get outdoors and play.  In fact, the amount of time all children play outdoors has dramatically dropped since the 1970's.  It was estimated that roughly 75% of all American children played outdoors regularly in 1972.  Today that figure has dropped to a dismal 27%.  Those are sad figures.

An Outdoor Trip Down Memory Lane
I can remember being about 13 years old and riding my 10 ton Royce Union 3 Speed all over the city.  I'd take it to the next town because their park had a lake so I could sit down and imagine I was in the country. What I learned was a sort of confidence and independence that comes with striking out on your own. It was also quite liberating to pick up and go when and where I wanted to.  Sometimes I'd go and play tennis, other times I'd walk around the running track at the park.  I'd visit friends or make new ones.

A Taste of Independence
I could stop and get something to eat or bring my own picnic lunch.  I remember getting together with my friend Patrice for a bike ride or walk around the lake. That was our Saturday excursion.  We were fearless!  No drivers license but despite riding and walking in an urban setting, we didn't worry too much.

College Life
Moving into a college dorm at age 17 didn't take the edge off of my desire for adventure.  Now I had to use the campus bus system to transverse several miles each day to get to class.  This worked for my first two years as a Pharmacy student but when I moved off campus, I wanted to go where the buses didn't.  Places like the local parks and camping areas.  When I met my husband to be, our main activities were canoeing, fishing and camping.  Those were the best dates!  He gave me a bicycle and I was once again able to do all those things I loved, exploring the great outdoors on my own terms.

Life in the Fast Lane
When our children were little, we got a Blue Sky Cycle Cart bicycle trailer and I would take them to the  park, shopping at the market, camping to visit playmates... just about everywhere.  They loved riding in that thing, (they called it the Conestoga Wagon)!  We were even featured on a local television station with them riding off into the sunset, which was actually just the end of the street.  All of them grew up, (girls included), to ride their own bicycles and have their own adventures.  

So what has happened to us spirited women?  Marriage, children, a career, etc.  Still my question is how have those things turned us into timid, agoraphobics who are suddenly afraid to go running or ride a bicycle in traffic?  It's true.  Women are NOT entering activities such as running and cycling in the same numbers as men.  In fact there are less women doing outdoor sports than men even though we are pretty much equally represented in the workplace.

Fear Not
We have access to so much information these days that it can be paralyzing.  Before the Internet, we watched television for the news and that usually came at the end of the day.  Now we get up to the minute news breaks throughout the day.

All the same look at the vintage photo below.  This is from the early 18th century and these young women could not vote, worn long skirts with bone corsets and were expected to marry before the age of 25.  On top of all that the streets of New York were filled with horse poop and garbage.  Guess what?  They are still more engaged in their self determination than many women today.  They did this by taking advantage of the freedoms of exploration, exercise and fresh air.  They said "yes" to healthy, fit bodies.  Why should these women who were so oppressed be doing better than liberated women today?  We have to ask ourselves that as we see U.S.obesity rates rising to astronomical levels along with Type II Diabetes and heart disease. Women, sisters, this is not the time to be afraid and simply sit home.  Wear bright clothing and lights if you must but DO get out there.  Walk, run, hike, bike, skate, jump.  We cover and test a lot of gear to help you do just that so fear can do this!

Girls on their vintage bicycles


  1. I really like the pics! The vintage one is my favorite! Thank God that woman could always ride a bike!

  2. Hi Charlie,

    I like the vintage photo too as it tells a lot. We have it so much better now. Technical cycle wear, comfortable bicycle more corsets! No excuse for women to sit at home. Thanks for your comment.

    Dr. M