We’ve had an amazing few weeks here in England, what with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the kickoff to the Olympics, and just yesterday, the Queen’s “Birthday parade” and the “Trouping of the Colour” – something akin to the Queen’s troop inspection, down there on the Mall. As I was catching some of the procession yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of a song by the boys Great Big Sea, called “If I Were King”. It got me wondering: what would I do, given the opportunity, to set the world afire as Queen?
Oh sure, I’d have to start with ditching the metric system. I mean, I’m sure it’s great and all, but I’m just about done with screwed up cakes and cookies. What? That’s too self-indulgent? Hm.
Okay, well, then let me speak for my people. My gorgeous, smart, sexy, stunning, dedicated, overworked, exhausted, want-to-exercise, sometimes-hate-our-selves, kick ass people. What could I do for MY people, to make the world better, for the Plus athletes in all of us?
1. Everyone works 8 hours a day. But only 8 hours. This includes moms and managers, bus boys and grandmas. We “work” in some form – but only for 8 hours a day and when it’s done, we gots time for healthy dinners and walks in the park and maybe even flirting with some hot dude in the Quickmart. I believe that this place exists, and it’s called France, or Italy, depending on your assessment. It’s a good place.
2. There are bike lanes in every city. And none of this “painted” stuff – real bike lanes which prevent my people from getting hit by lorries or buses or doors from Trixies texting in one hand and checking lipstick with another. They make it safe for all of us to ride where we want. My people, the people of occasional knee problems and a preference for non-weight-bearing exercise, they love the bike lanes. They thrive.
3. We spend as much to develop effective Sports Bras as the lady did who designed Spanx. The result is a wicking, separating, flattering, no-bounce dream of a sports bra which is far more comfortable and has an equal impact on the waistline as Spanx. My people become more toned – because they are running now without threat of pain/bounce/chafe-o-rama- and get there without the aid of 10% lycra and at a cost that could (and should) be spent on LBDs and killer heels.
4. Every person who wants to become a runner gets a “runner starter kit” desgined specifically for plus-size athletes, and comes complete with a support group and coach to run their first 5k. The starter kit has the right shoes (and of course comes with a free fitting!), shorts or capris which prevent chafing; a sports bra which neither dislocates your shoulder to put on nor leaves angry red welts to remove; and a shirt which neither clings to the boobage, the belly, or the butt, but rather skims appropriately in all locations while covering chicken wings aplenty. It also includes a watch with run/walk intervals that you can actually USE and a water bottle pack which fits your waist – not the waist of Mary Kate Olsen (sorry, MK).
5. Running stores, retailers, apparel makers, etc. all offer at least one item from every collection up to a size 3X. It is priced the same as the regular collection, in the same colors, and sold IN THE SAME STORES as the other parts of the collection – not online, but in a physical store. My people would get to try things on without the looming threat of yet another post office return.
6. Any store which claims to want to improve the health and wellbeing of the community around them, and which holds a license to sell sporting apparel shall hold, once per week, a workout course of some sort which caters to new athletes and only new athletes. It is free, and it does not require the participants to drive somewhere else to do it. It is also be realistic – no lunges, no scary shit. Simple, effective, easy stuff. Maybe (shock!) a walking group. Maybe an “introduction to running” group, where you run for one minute, and walk for five. EASY. NOT SCARY. FREE. Minimize barriers to entry and people will come. HOW HARD IS THIS?
7. All of my people learn how to swim as part of the elementary school education. Yep. All of them. Maybe I’d make it a requirement that you couldn’t get a license to drive if you didn’t pass a cycling test as well – because as many of us know, most of our journeys are under a mile – and why do them by car if you know how – and can physically do them – by bike?
8. Overweight athletes are on the cover of major running, cycling, and triathlon magazines as frequent as their percentage of the sample of athletes they represent would require. For example, runners, who comprise at least 40% of the running population (best guess, on a country-wide basis in the US) are on the cover of Runner’s World 40% of the year, reflecting the REAL look and feel of the running community. Same for Triathlete magazine, and Bicycling (on a % basis). Apparel stories for all magazines would include – for EVERY issue – recommendations on purchasing for Plus athletes to encourage more Plus athletes to be active. Again, part of the social contract. If Runner’s World, Triathlete, and Bicycling, just to name a few, can’t spare the column inches, we’d have a few suggestions for the stories they could trim down. Just a few.
9. Core strength for everyone! I’d enlist my former PT to run the nation’s course on “how to build a better core”.
10. Every workplace has showers and a place to change before or after a workout. This is good because in the Kingdom, at least once per week we commute on our own steam. We walk or run, or cycle. But we need a place to shower or change before or after, and so we have it. And no skanky showers, either.
Yep. I think those are good starters for the Kingdom of Plus Athletes. Wouldn’t it be grand?
For now, we’ll just have to take on all of those challenges on our own. And yes, we can do it. And yes, we can keep driving the bus. But gosh, sometimes, don’t you wish it was just a little easier? I know I do.