Snorkelling with Decathlon

DSC00174.jpg

And we're back! It's been a really full on couple of weeks what with a change in job and training ramping up it's taken me awhile to adjust to a new schedule in, well, everything. But we're back, and I'm finally able to share one of our favourite adventures in the Andaman Islands - snorkelling! 

DSC00182.jpg

The Andaman Islands have some of the best dive sites in the world. The water is clear and warm. There are beautiful reefs to explore and amazing tropical fish that swim right up to you, if you stay still enough. It's something else! Nothing is more special than getting in the water and exploring the other world under the sea!

Mike and I knew when we were planning to head to Andaman that we'd want to snorkel, but neither of us particularly liked the idea of hiring gear, I mean who knows whose mouth that snorkel has been in! Thankfully we were lucky enough to be hooked up with amazing Easybreath Masks by the guys at Decathlon, cool full face masks that let you breath normally.

DSC00186.jpg

I won't lie, we'd been eyeing up these masks for awhile, and were really excited to finally put them to the test. It's a good thing they didn't disappoint. In the past I've used normal masks and snorkels, but they've not always been comfortable. There's the issue of having something in your mouth, and having to regulate your breathing to deal with that, and fogging when you accidentally breath out through your nose (an issue for someone like me who practices nasal only breathing!), something which you totally avoid with the Easybreath. The big thing I was worried about was leaking, I didn't want to miss anything during my underwater adventure, and thankfully the seal held up perfectly! It was absolutely amazing being able to see everything clearly, especially when the fish swam right up to me, I can't begin to explain how beautiful they were! 

I really love the Easybreath, it really made our experience in the Andaman Islands, and I can't wait to get it out again in Menorca this summer! 

*Decathlon kindly gifted me the Easybreath Mask, my rash guard and board shorts, but all opinions are very much my own!

Inactive Equals Lazy?

IMG_0002.JPG

Yesterday I ended up in a conversation with another blogger about use of the word lazy when it comes to physical activity. Stephen had highlighted how media outlets and even UK Active (a non-profit committed to improving the health of the nation through promoting active lifestyles) uses the term lazy when talking about engagement in physical activity - the active become the 'fittest' and the less active become the 'laziest' - but are people who are less active really lazy? Or are people falling back on a cliched stereotype of lazy because it is easy? 

There are a myriad of reasons why people don't participate in physical activity - they're embarrassed, they've had bad experiences in the past, they're busy, they don't know how to access activities, they're intimidated, they don't believe physical activity is 'for' them, they don't have the resources to access it. The list goes on and on, and all these reasons are underpinned by some pretty hefty social issues as well. I am forever saying that participation is complex, and that's because it it. It is not as simple for many people as lacing up their trainers and going for a run, and to say people are lazy for not doing so is ignorant of the impact of privilege - parents who encouraged an active lifestyle, resources to access facilities, confidence to walk into a gym or a class, time and freedom from other commitments. However, until there's a move away from reductionist perceptions around participation we aren't really going to make true progress, and I'd urge everyone to consider the language they use, lets facilitate rather than shame.

if you want to know more Stephen had written an excellent article, which you can find here.

Women's Sport Week

14433015_1115914108463330_4502172270825001124_n.jpg

Women's Sport Week is upon us, a week dedicated to celebrating the amazing achievements of women in sport and inspiring more women to get active. It's about raising awareness of opportunities for women in sport, encouraging more people to watch women's sport and triggering debate to help more women reach their potential through sport.

In the UK fewer women than men participate in sport (Active Lives Survey, 2017), and there has been a plethora of research and campaigns in this area, not least Sport England's flagship This Girl Can campaign. However, while gains have been made, and the gap between men and women in terms of participation is narrowing, progress is still slow. So what's going wrong?

Having spent the last couple of years obsessively reading about this issue the best I can say is that there are no easy answers. The relationship between women and sport participation is complex, underpinned by deeply embedded ideologies and still something of a hot potato when it comes to sexism and gender roles. Sport isn't always an easy choice for women, particularly not in a society obsessed with body image, and it is not enough to tell women that sport is an option for them - you are still telling people to cross a pretty major threshold in terms of gendered behavioural norms. 

Exploring the rhetoric of choice and inspiration which statutes campaigns such as This Girl Can and #WePlayStrong, Simone Fullager and Jessica Francombe-Webb challenge us around the idea that while on one level these campaigns are fantastic and inspiring, on another they detach personal choice and freedom from the gender norms that pervade our society. It's fine to say 'ignore the patriarchy', but ideas about what roles men and women fulfil are deeply embedded, and for many women they will affect how they see their capacity to participate in sport and the level of inclusiveness they experience. We need to go beyond inspiration. We need to change the story. 

One of the reasons I think running has been so successful in attracting women and helping them build active lifestyles is that it isn't a feminised version of a 'male' sport. More often than not men and women run alongside each other, 'women's running' isn't a watered down version of the 'male' sport, we all run the same miles, we all run for ourselves and at the level most people participate there isn't any competition. We're inspired by our mates who've run marathons, we find tribes in all sorts of places and we push forward together. Yes, many of us ran our first miles alone and in the dark (I know I did), but confidence comes quickly in running, before we know it we're pushing our limits and our bravery grows. I would argue that we need to look at the success in this area and see how we can make it grow more widely, that we need to drop the ideas that women want or need certain things to participate and think differently, to remove gender from the conversation and normalise movement for everyone. To reach out and support those who are being brave and cheer them on, and lead by example as people who are open, honest and love life. 

I make it sound easy. It isn't. There are deeply ingrained barriers in society that need to be overcome, and it's unlikely those are going to shift in our generation, but let's chip away, let's be pioneers. There isn’t a route map. Instead ‘we need to be guided by women’s voices, and analyse how their experiences are shaped by the many depends of contemporary society’ (Fullager and Francombe-Webb, 2014) paying close attention to how physical activity is gendered if we truly want to engage more women in sport.

*image courtesy of RunnersNeed*