I am the ‘queen of novelty’ – the joy of finding something new has always been a driving force. Where I have come unstuck is persisting with things and this feeling to find ‘my thing’ that I would want to stick to. This feeling of needing to find something and stick to it has led to often beating myself up for not persisting or just giving up what I was doing instead of celebrating that I keep trying activities and giving things ‘a go’!
I felt ‘enough was enough’ and it was time to create a challenge that played to my strengths but also would push me….. so in my quest to stick to something and also to discover and clarify what I enjoy, my project was born: Lets try 52!
This was a year long commitment to try a different form of exercise every week for a year. The challenge was the length of a year but it had the vital ingredient… novelty.
Inspired by my idea, I was keen to start… indoor trampoline with my nephews! What was magical about this first week was not only had my project begun and with some of my favourite little people but it transpires my oldest nephew loved it so much he went on to have a trampoline birthday party for the new two years!
As the weeks ticked on, I had no trouble finding things to try. With the help of google and my thirst for finding the new and at the times the quirky, it was amazing what there is out there for free or a small fee. A few of the cheap and cheerful activities included a two hour fencing class for £5, a women’s self defence class, rowing class, swimming in the Serpentine, using an outdoor gym in the a park and clubbercise (an hour long dance class in a night club).
There were the classes that stretched me in my fitness, and also lack of balance and coordination like Floatfit, which was an exercise class on a board (like a surfboard) at the Olympic swimming pool! Just getting on the board was an adventure for me let alone trying to balance! I don’t know if it was all the laughter or the core strength work involved that caused my stomach muscles to ache for three days after!
There was the inflatable assault course that contorts your body into positions the Kama sutra would applaud and a yoga class on an ice rink before work by Liverpool Street station. I giggled for the rest of the day after this yoga class, recalling standing in tree pose as commuters passed by on their way to work with rather quizzical expressions on their faces!
There were weekend long challenges including a mindfulness walking weekend in the Peak District and a sea kayak weekend around the coast in Devon (popping my bivvy cherry too on a beautiful summer’s evening). And these immersed me in the experiences and clarified my enjoyment for the outdoors and the magic of feeling the elements on your skin.
An added layer of my project was fitting in with travel plans I had over the year; I attended the most provocative and eye opening Zumba class taught by a lady in her sixties from the Bible Belt of America whilst I was volunteering in Germany on a ‘talking holiday’, my friends took me sledging through a ski resort in Austria and I took my first dive whilst away in Bali….oh as well as swimming 50 lengths in any swimming pool we came across!
There were some weeks that it would have been easy for life to get in the way but that is where my commitment for the year kicked in. For me, this was of as much importance as the activities themselves. It is that declaring doing something and sticking to it!
It soon became clear that what I already thought about myself was true. Anything in, on and under water I loved even when my sense of balance didn’t. I also discovered scooting which led to my most epic adventure to date but I also learnt an even bigger skill and that was belief in myself.
Belief that I don’t have to adventure / exercise what can be seen as the conventional way. I do not need to feel constrained by doing the same things all the time and there are some things for me that are a no…cycling, hoolahooping and burlesque class are a no! Funnily enough, even on those weeks when I tried something I didn’t like, I knew the experience was short lived so it made them all the more bearable and I could just smile and enjoy them.
By trying different things, I met an amazing array of people and some have become good friends and adventure buddies… it also supported me to grow in confidence of walking into environments with people I didn’t know.
And finally, it proved that adventure can fit in with daily life. Sometimes adventures and exercise can be seen as something that can dominate your life and you need lots of time to do it. This project proved it does not have to and could be as small or as vast as I chose it to be. Having this project in my life every day added a layer of richness and wonderment that was priceless.
So what now,… well I learnt I do well with a year challenge with novelty so I am currently nearly three months into my ‘365 for 365 challenge’. For 365 seconds a day, I choose a way to nurture myself whether that be meditation, music, a walk, writing a letter, watching a sunset or ringing instead of texting an old friend. For everyday I complete it, I am putting a pound in a pot and after 365 days there will be post of pennies for an adventure to nurture me (two other AQ who have chosen to engage in this project too!).
Clare Henshaw is an AQ Facebook social media guardian and Chief Queen of the Hertfordshire group. She’s full of energy and ideas, always up for giving things ago and is world-famous for her baking (if you came to our January 2018 campout, you would have experienced the talent!).