Editor's Desk - October 2014
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The Right Fit

For Mother's Day this year, my husband fixed up a bicycle for me. He didn't even have to buy a new one. We had a nice older Trek sitting around that was too small for everyone but me, so he just got it cleaned up, put on new tires, tuned it up and made sure it was the right fit. It had been more than eight years since I'd been in the saddle, and I think he was hoping I'd rediscover my old love for the activity.

He was spurred to do this by his own love of biking, which has grown dramatically from nothing to everything over the past couple of years. Something he initially picked up just to get a little exercise, he now goes out for a 50-mile jaunt like it's a walk in the park, and by the time you're reading this, he'll have completed his first century ride.

Yesterday when I was out for my (much shorter) ride along the trails in the forest preserve near our home, a light rain started falling, and I felt so liberated. I surprised some deer on the path, and the wind kicked up, and I slipped into that wonderful mental place where you're on the move, and loving it. I started thinking about how cool it is when a 40-something person—or any person, for that matter—can find a new love for a great activity—the kind of exercise that's so much fun and so fulfilling, it doesn't really feel like exercise. And that got me thinking about all the people out there who have never found their Thing. All the people who maybe don't even know that it's possible that they could get up and get moving in a way that doesn't feel like work.

Obesity rates may be leveling off, but that doesn't mean it's time to forget about helping the American public find its way to a healthier lifestyle. Encouraging people to get active is part and parcel of what the recreation, sports and fitness industry is there for.

One of the most important things you do is to help people find their Thing. It might be biking, like it is for my husband. It could be yoga, as it is for me. It might be running or rock climbing, swimming or dancing or kayaking. The list of activities that get your heart pumping is long. But for most people, the list of activities that get your heart pumping without you realizing you're working at it is quite a bit shorter. And it seems like a tricky job—trying to prevent people from getting discouraged and giving up when they try out an activity and it doesn't work for them.

Many of us are lucky enough to be surrounded by infrastructure and opportunities that enable an easy transition from inactive to active. I consider myself so, with a vast network of trails that begins literally at the end of my street, perfect for biking, walking, running—and even groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter months. And that's not to mention the excellent park facilities just down the road, where I could get into line dancing, suspension training, weight lifting, yoga, karate, archery or any of a number of other activities. There are full-size fitness clubs complete with pools and climbing walls, as well as niche studios for Pilates and more. Not everyone has that kind of access to an active lifestyle.

Finding a way to bring such opportunities to everyone, no matter where they live, seems a laudable goal. In this constantly go-go-going world of technology and busy-ness, experiencing the exhilarating freedom that comes from being back on the bike makes me wish everyone could have a chance to get into that place. A place where judgment falls by the wayside, where the negative is left behind, and you're just what you are in the moment. I can't even imagine how rewarding it must be when you help someone get to that place.

So, tell me. How are you helping people find their Right Fit?


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management