Updated: Dec 14, 2018
I wanted to write this blog because for me personally, becoming involved in extreme sports changed my life for the better and gave me back a zest and motivation for life which had been missing since I quit gymnastics at age 17.
Gymnastics taught me so many valuable life lessons. It was through gymnastics that I learnt the value of perseverance, that nothing ever comes easy, that you have to push your own limits to see what you are actually capable of. It also helped build my resilience, dealing with disappointment was a huge part of the sport, sometimes I would train hard for months only to fall in the middle of my routine during a competition, that feeling was tough to deal with as a kid. I lived and breathed gymnastics for over ten years, so naturally when I stopped doing it, I was very lost.
One particular day, after living a chaotic, unhealthy, lazy and unmotivated life for many years, I decided to go to the beach with my keen surfer boyfriend (now husband) and give surfing ago. My first few attempts were disastrous, the water dominated me and I couldn't even stay on the board lying down. I watched in awe as other surfers out there stood up so effortlessly. After many attempts, I eventually managed to stand up, I was so delighted and proud and the feeling of standing on water was just amazing. This day, I felt a fire in my belly, something that I hadn’t felt for a long time. This was the day that I wanted life to be different, I wanted new things to look forward to and a more exciting and healthier lifestyle, this is where it all began.
Not long after that I went on a trip to New Zealand and discovered snowboarding. The first few days learning to snowboard were brutal. I was bruised from head to toe, sore to the point of not being able to roll over in bed without waking up in agony and my spirit was broken as I convinced I would never be able to do it. Despite all this, I persisted, pushed through the pain and learnt how to ride. By the end of the trip, I was ecstatic and couldn't get enough, a serious passion was born and to this day snowboarding is my big love.
Living in a flat snowless city, I needed other things to keep me busy in between snow trips. Next I discovered wakeboarding and kiteboarding. My husband had been kite surfing for a while and encouraged me to get into it. I now love both of these sports a lot and have learnt a whole new skill set. It didn't take me long to realise that extreme sports are life and here are some of the reason why;
1. They take your mind off absolutely everything,
especially work related stress. As a social worker, work stress is a huge thing for me, the hours are long and I'm exposed to issues such as drug use, domestic violence, child abuse and homelessness every day. It’s not surprising that the world starts to look bleak. When I'm snowboarding, or out on the water wakeboarding or kite surfing, I’m not thinking about anything else other than what I’m doing. I’m completely switched off and in this adult life which requires us to be 'switched on' all the time, that is a godsend.
2. You get to play again.
Play isn't just for children, playtime for adults is important too. It's too easy to cut out the things we love to do because we just don't have time anymore. These days we are working more than ever, have more responsibility and less connection. It's important to prioritise doing what you love because when we make time for things we enjoy, we're more relaxed, content, patient and productive in other areas of our lives.
3. You are capable of more than you think.
I remember watching the kite surfers and thinking that it looked impossible. That was the same thought with snowboarding and wakeboarding. “I’ll never be able to do that” I told myself, “Those people are special and talented”. Ah the self sabotaging comments we tell ourselves daily. Let me tell you a secret, it's not impossible, with a bit of motivation and commitment, you are capable of absolutely anything and you’ll be super chuffed with yourself as you progress.
4. Get the extra fitness without even knowing.
Sometimes going to the gym becomes a chore, especially when trying to fit it in before or after work. Setting the alarm for 5am is nothing more than a rude awakening and the struggle to avoid pressing the snooze button is too real. When you're doing something you love whether that be surfing, wakeboarding, mountain biking etc, it’s a win win situation, burning calories while having genuine fun and not noticing as much how hard you're working. You might feel a bit tired and sore after but it's totally worth it because the stoke is real.
5. Make new friends.
This bit is so much fun, the people you meet while extreme sporting are some of the nicest, most supportive, encouraging people you’ll ever meet. Someone who shares the same enthusiasm and excitement for a sport as you do, is worth keeping around. I promise your social calendar will be busier that ever.
6. You will continually be inspired.
Once you start extreme sporting, even if you're not physically doing it, you'll be thinking about it, watching it, and reading about it. You'll quickly learn who the pro's are and you'll watch their videos and documentaries and be even more inspired. For the ladies out there who love to snowboard, take some time out and watch 'Full Moon Film" this film is the ultimate inspiration for females in extreme sport and it'll give you goosebumps.
7. You will never be bored.
Having a range of extreme sport hobbies means life will seldom be boring. If it's windy, go kite surfing, if it's not windy go wakeboarding, if there's swell, go surfing and if you're lucky enough to live in the mountains, go snowboarding or skiing. You may find that adulting goes out the window for a while, the chores pile up and the washing doesn't get done because lets face it, y'all to busy for that.
For anyone out there who has had a niggling desire to try something new, my advice is to GO FOR IT. Do it now, don't wait for later, You will not regret it. It will bring back that inner child, the big smile and cheeky giggle that so often gets lost or pushed to the bottom because of busy adult life. I honestly believe when we make time to do what we love, we become better people, which in turn makes other areas of our life easier to deal with.
"By doing what you love, you inspire & awaken the hearts of others" - Satsuki Shibuya