These hikers of all shapes and sizes want to make exercising in public inclusive
Posted on 13.05.2021
Justine Streager knows well the feeling of being judged while exercising.
“I went swimming on my own once and I was really proud of myself for getting out, because I was postpartum about six months,” she recalls.
“I was swimming in a lane with a man next to me. And he said, ‘Wow, what did you eat for your arms to get that big?'”
Ms Streager says she didn’t feel like going swimming again after that.
She’s not alone. According to VicHealth, 52 per cent of Victorian women worry about being judged when they exercise.
If you don’t fit the physical ideal of how someone who exercises “should” look, the outdoors, much like gyms and pools, can feel like a space ripe for judgement.
It can turn somewhere serene into a place to be avoided.
‘Nobody looks like me’
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in the You Yangs, a mountain range about half an hour from Geelong in regional Victoria, there’s a very different – and judgement-free – scene.
Around 20 people have gathered in their activewear and sneakers for a sunset walk.
This crew calls itself Escaping Your Comfort Zone – an inclusive hiking and adventure group for women and non-binary people with a body-positive ethos.
Richelle Olsen started Escaping Your Comfort Zone in 2016 to support women and non-binary people to take on the outdoors, no matter their size, age, or fitness level.
“When you go to a gym, quite often people feel scrutinised. They feel judged. They feel like they don’t fit in because they don’t have a certain body type,” Ms Olsen says.
But, she argues, “the outdoors belongs to everyone”.
“It doesn’t matter how fit you are, how much you huff and puff… because you’re out here in it.”
Learn more ...
Body positive hiking and adventures for women & non-binary people.
The outdoors don’t care about your size, your pace or your fitness.
And neither do we!
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