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Curvy Girls Hiking offers welcoming atmosphere for all

Katherine Fequet (left) and Nadine Hackney on the Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour. The pair, who recently founded Curvy Girls Hiking group, will lead a walk there on June 15.
Katherine Fequet (left) and Nadine Hackney on the Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour. The pair, who recently founded Curvy Girls Hiking group, will lead a walk there on June 15. - Pat Lee

Finding your fitness groove

Katherine Fequet knows what it feels like to be active as a smaller person and as someone who is heavier. And when you are active as a heavier person, it can be challenging to find your groove.

“When I first started doing yoga, I was in a smaller body,” the Eastern Passage woman said. “I noticed that after I had gained some weight that yoga felt differently on my body, as well as the things that I enjoy doing like hiking and biking.”

Fequet said it was also a different experience to join active groups as a larger person, as the pace of outings didn’t always accommodate her abilities. Not planning to give up her active lifestyle, Fequet instead decided to refocus her approach, learning to be more patient with herself and to seek out like-minded movers.

A trained yoga instructor, she first launched Curvy Yoga, aimed at providing inclusive and accessible classes. So, it’s not surprising that when she crossed paths with kindred spirit Nadine Hackney, an avid hiker and outdoor leader from Hubbards, the pair decided to form a hiking group that would cater to a wide range of fitness levels and abilities.

A new alternative

Curvy Girls Hiking launched last month with an inaugural outing at High Head Trail in Prospect, with five people taking part. On June 15, they will hit the Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour.

Hackney said when she met Fequet at a yoga facilitator workshop, it was clear they were on the same page about supporting people of all abilities to be active.

“I think it’s something we’ve both been dreaming about for a while,” said Hackney, who runs recreation programs for the municipalities of Halifax and Chester, including the activity-focussed program Go Girls Hubbards for girls in junior high.

“I do a lot of hiking. I love being outdoors. A lot of the programming I do for youth is around outdoors,” she said.

As active and as experienced as she is as a hiker, Hackney said she too has felt the sting of feeling like she didn’t fit in.

“I do a lot of hikes, but I’ve never found a hike that was 100 per cent enjoyable for me,” she said. “I would sometimes have people be surprised that I could do a hike, so I would become competitive and often hiking faster than I wanted to, in order to prove that I was strong and capable.”

Open to all

Both said their planned hikes will meet the needs of all who take part, regardless of fitness or skill level. They hope the group will evolve so that participants will even organize their own outings that can be promoted on the Curvy Girls Facebook page.

“On our first hike,” Fequet recalled, “we said, ‘this is not mine and Nadine’s hike. This is our hike.’ ”

The organizers said the monthly outings will primarily take place around Halifax, but they may organize a few further afield.
As part of promoting accessibility and inclusivity, the pair said they do not want “diet culture” to be part of the outings, discouraging talk of things like step counting or eating plans while taking part.

The one thing they are encouraging is participation by anyone who’s interested. And, despite the name, men are welcome too.

“You don’t have to be a girl and you don’t have to identify as curvy to join us,” Fequet said.
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