Breathe Out

Photo courtesy BigStock/smuki
Two men and a woman walking by hiking trail, blurred motion

Get back into the swing of things with the help of local sports organizations

It was a different kind of coming out.  Whether you’re gay or straight, you went through it, and just recently, too.  It began behind your ears, the first time you felt the skin there go soft even as a thin band of skin on each index finger went taut.  The permanent-seeming weight that had pressed against your nose and mouth for a year was gone, and all around you, you saw people–most of them wonder-eyed, smiling mimics of yourself–also holding just-removed surgical masks in front of their chests.  As if learning how, you inhaled through your nostrils, and what entered your arid lungs wasn’t air—well, not just air–it was something you hadn’t breathed in fourteen months.

It was the sweet, sweet scent of normalcy.

When you squinted into a mirror at the unmasked marvel blinking back at you, you might have noticed that the You of Spring 2021 was three tads heavier than the You of 2020, and if you did, you weren’t alone.  According to a recent Harris Poll conducted by the American Psychological Association, most Americans reported some unwanted weight gain while enduring lockdown, with 42% of those adding thirty pounds or more.  If your wish now is to burn calories while re-acquainting yourself with your fellow ex-troglodytes, Lavender Magazine’s shmoozy fitness team can provide some friendly recommendations.

Outwoods offers a forum “to publicize quality, enjoyable, non-competitive, outdoor recreational activities.”  What makes Outwoods distinctive from other recreational groups is its lack of organization.  That doesn’t mean Outwoods doesn’t make its bed or iron its clothes in the morning; that means that individual members post Vitamin-D-friendly events, and whichever other members are interested show up at the established time.  Structurally, Outwoods is anarchy without the chaos.  Affirms the its website, “The one principle underlying all Outwoods activities is volunteerism:  the success of the club depends on the willingness of people to organize activities.”

Minneapolis-Saint Paul Frontrunners is the Minnesota chapter of a International Frontrunners which describes itself as “an all-inclusive running and walking club for persons who identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies in the Twin Cities metro area.”  Anyone whose mobility level ranges from Cheetah to Glacier can be accommodated.  MSP Frontrunners provides routes, while individual members provide bodycentric oomph.  A period of socializing follows each excursion, and if that’s the real purpose of these events, Frontrunners isn’t telling (and we’re not asking).

Photo courtesy of BigStock/Maridav

Finally, for the social outworker looking to switch elements, we present Minnesota Ice Swim Club (as in ‘M-Nice,’ like ‘Minnesota Nice,’ as opposed to swimming through really-cold, solid water—sometimes known as ‘Minnesota Not-Nice’–which all experts recommend strongly against).  This aqua-club identifies its primary mission as developing “Minnesota Ice into one of the premier LGBTQ+ swim clubs in the US and abroad.  We welcome all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or ability level.  It is our hope that all can develop and foster a life-long passion for swimming.”  For practice sessions, lanes are divided according to skill level, and most workouts include a warm-up, a pre-set, a main set, and a cool down.  Presumably, cool downs are taken particularly seriously by a club with the word “Ice” in its name.

As it billows across the Land of 10,000 Lakes like an anti-pandemic, adjusting to normalcy might feel weird—like coming out, like re-learning to breathe–but these leagues are there to remind you that whether you’re adjusting to the old normal or a new, better normal, you needn’t do so alone.
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