I practically did no exercise up to the age of 26 (other than horse riding and, to be honest, I was a lazy horse rider), when I started kickboxing lessons at my gym. Through the years, exercise has been something that I’ve enjoyed, but I’ve never been very good at it, compared to those elites at least. I mean, I’ve run a marathon, but not at a particularly fast pace. I’ve entered kickboxing competitions but never come close to winning anything. And now, at triathlon, I still remain around average (counting only the people who actually entered, and finished, of course).
But I don’t really care how good I am at it (though I’m always striving for improvement). It makes me feel great, and I talk about it passionately to anyone who will listen (and anyone who won’t for that matter). Apparently this passion is contagious, because some of my non-exercising friends have started believing that they, too, can enjoy this exercising malarkey. And they’ve also started talking about it passionately to their friends, who have started too.
When I decided to take on the year record, the obvious choice was to raise money for charity, and I searched high and low for a charity that helped adults get into exercise. I couldn't find any - most were either for adults with learning difficulties, or for children. Not that these are not great causes, but I believe that if every adult made time to exercise, others would do the same. After all, if it was the norm for every adult to go running 3-4 times a week, or cycle to work every day, wouldn’t it also become the norm for their children to grow up to do the same?
As I couldn't find any charities, I figured why not just cut out the middle-man? Why get people to donate money to charities that encourage them to exercise? Why not just get them to exercise?!
I would like to make it perfectly clear that I’m not against raising money for charity, nor that we shouldn’t spend time and money educating children on the benefits of exercise and healthy eating, but aren’t we hypocrites if we don’t practice what we preach?
My mission is to get adults active and to feel good about themselves, in order to set a good example for the next generation.
So instead of asking people to donate money to a worthwhile cause, I asked for donations of SWEAT – a pledge to make a lifestyle change in 2016. The idea is that people make a pledge - an activity goal - and that is followed by their donations of minutes of sweat while training.
There is no greater motivator for me than knowing that others are going out and making a difference to their lives even if it's only partly because of what I’m doing. Although it shouldn’t be for me – it should be for each individual, and the inspiration that they can be to their children and their friends, relatives and acquaintances. I would say it’s a spider’s web with me in the middle, or a tree with me as the trunk but I’d be foolish and naïve to think this has started with me; my inspirations are many! But what keeps me going the most, is knowing that I have made a difference to other people’s lives, and they have in turn done the same for others. All I’m doing is spinning my part of web or, if you prefer the other metaphor, growing my own branch in the tree. I’m just hoping that my web will catch a hell of a lot of flies or that my branch will grow to shade some huge picnics!!