How to Get Involved in Sport – Join In and Give it a Tri!

10 Ideas to go from being a Spectator to a Participator!

If you would like to rise to an Olympic challenge then 2019 is the year to stop watching and start playing (or swimming, cycling, running, walking, kayaking, surfing…). Why don’t you switch off your television set and doing something more interesting instead! Thus went the snappily titled TV (ironically) show of my youth, today the YouTubers might equally ironically encourage us to put down our phone for 5 minutes and get active. So why don’t you give it a go? Try something new or something that you used to do, but whatever you do get off the couch and get moving!

The legacy of the London 2012 Olympics was to be a massive increase in participation in sport. However 7 years on, here in the UK, the flame has flickered and uptake has been negligible at best, one poll suggested that only a minority of people felt able to maintain a new rhythm of training and exercise.

And if you are already a keen sportsperson or athlete, the chances are you’ve recently assumed a Yoda-like profile amongst your friends, and have been approached by others seeking wisdom on how to take on a more active lifestyle.

So here are 10 ideas to help you take up the baton, keep the flame alive and turn from spectator to participator! Or to encourage your loved ones to do the same.

1. Do what you enjoy! Keep it fun so that you enjoy your activity. Obstacle racing and “Run or Dye” are such a hit because they’re both good for you and fun. If you like the countryside, mountain-bike riding could be more fun than dodging the traffic on a road bike. And Geocaching or Orienteering might make a family walk more fun.

2. Get some good advice from a specialist coach or club. There are many hard working, grass-roots, local sports clubs out there that are so much more worthy of our time, attention and ‘support’ than the premier league prima donnas (with apologies to fans of those clubs!). Seek out your local club and get stuck in, most sports will welcome you with open arms as a beginner and help you try out a new sport or revive an old interest.

3. Be consistent. It’s better to train 3 times a week, for half an hour, than to run for an hour one day, then not at all for a week.

4. Be ambitious but realistic. Set yourself a manageable goal and achieve it, not a huge goal that sets you up for failure.

5. Be positive. Adopt a positive mindset and talk to positive people about what you are doing!

6. Get out the door (just do it!). The first step is always the most hardest.

7. Schedule a time when you know you can go. Agree it with your family or work – and if you’re not an early bird, don’t make that into an extra hurdle to start with.

8. Share your goal with as many people as possible, and write it down.

9. Keep it social. Try to train with someone else; there’s more incentive to be there, and it’s easier to do! Parkrun is a brilliant way of sharing a “run” (not a race!) with lots of other like-minded people.

10. Value the process (over the product) – don’t focus on losing the ‘weight’ or hitting a particular time, but on enjoying and doing the things that will get you there, instead.

Sporting options for you to try

5-a-side football, netball (lots of clubs for adults are being set up!), Zumba / dance exercise, wake-boarding, climbing (there lots of great climbing walls), running, cycling, swimming, walking (brisk/power walking is as good for you as running) the list goes on. What is your favourite?

Helpful habits

Creating a positive exercise habit makes it much harder not to go! It takes 30 days to ingrain a habit. You could make this your initial goal if you are just getting started – and see how you feel after the 30 days.

Helping

London 2012 showed us all the great value of, and fulfilment to be gained from, helping out – and you can get involved locally by volunteering, refereeing matches or stewarding at races, coaching youngsters, managing teams (often you don’t need technical skills to be able to lend a hand!), administrating, supporting your local teams / clubs / athletes.

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