So the other day I posted on Facebook about my plans for balance. I’ve spent months thinking about what I want to get out of the business and why I do what I do. Business success in the traditional sense doesn’t really motivate me, I don’t want a huge company with loads of employees, and earning lots of money certainly isn’t my main driver. What I want to be able to do when I’m old(er) is look back on life and say ‘that was worthwhile, that was cool, I’m really proud that we did that’. And the thing that will allow me to do that is the reason I got into the health and fitness industry 16 years ago and never left - helping people.
When all of you, and hundreds of other complete strangers, rallied around to help us raise the huge amount of money needed to fly Chris home in just a matter of days the Christmas before last, it was a wonderful thing in what was the most awful time. It highlighted to me the fundamental goodness in people and I knew I wanted to create something that could help to do something similar for others. I also knew that exercise was the perfect vehicle through which to achieve this. You can’t fail to be inspired when watching something like the London Marathon on TV, when long after the professional athletes have finished and gone home, ordinary people continue to pour over the finish line in their charity t-shirts and fancy dress, smiles and tears of joy at what they’ve achieved and so often the knowledge that they’ve helped others in the process.
With all of this in mind I decided we needed a challenging, audacious goal to inspire us into big action…how about raising £1 million for charity I thought? I imagined sitting there in my chair in 40 years’ time, listening to ‘old-fashioned’ musical classics such as 2 become 1 by the Spice Girls and Livin’ La Vida Loca by pop-God Ricky Martin, telling the grandchildren about what we achieved. They won’t be interested of course, they’ll be too busy moaning about the rubbish music, but I have no doubt in my mind that it’ll feel like it was worth all of the effort.
My aim is to use all of the products and services we offer through balance to help raise money towards our target. We’ll be giving away some online programmes and simply ask if you like them that you consider donating, and we’ll be putting a percentage of our proceeds from paid online programmes and books towards the target too.
We’re also significantly scaling up our events, or ‘balanced days out and weekends’ as I prefer to call them. We’ve been running events for a few years now and we’ve had some amazing times cycling and running through stunning countryside with wonderful people. It’s been a pleasure socialising with and helping those of you who’ve joined us so far and it makes us really excited about the plan for next year.
All of this will come together to help three fantastic charities in the south-west of England for 2019. We’re finalising the details with them at present and we’ll provide lots of information about who they are, what they do and how your money can help them to help others imminently.
Throughout next year, we’ll have a series of shorter walks and runs (generally ranging from 4-10 miles) and bike rides (mostly between 20 and 50 miles) on offer. These will be free of charge; all we’ll ask is that you consider donating £5, or more if you wish, towards our charities. They’ll be relaxed and sociable affairs and we’ll be sure to mix them in with trips to some great places to eat and drink too! We’ll announce these at least three months in advance, more where possible and we’ll plan them around our bigger events so that they make for perfect training days.
For the big events, we’ll have:
Three cycling weekends - one that’s challenging but not too long or hilly, one tougher option for those who really want to test their limits, and an off-road weekend that allows you to escape completely or build your confidence on a bike
Two long walks - there’ll be a half-marathon distance and also a 20-miler so you can really step up your fitness
One long run - well, it’s a marathon actually so I think we can definitely call that long.
Here are seven things all of our events have in common, designed to make them truly unique, unforgettable experiences for you:
They’re friendly - We decided to purposely keep our events small, no more than 30 people on each so that they can be truly sociable. There are some great events out there but often I’ve turned up, done my thing and gone home without really interacting with anyone . We’ve designed ours so that you can spend time getting to know people you’ll have lots in common with and make new friends
They’re relaxed - there’s no rush, they’re not races and they’re not timed (though you can time yourself if you wish of course). We live in a fast-paced, stressful world and I know many people feel that chasing times in events can simply add to the stress. There are plenty of races out there so we chose to do something different, events to help escape the rat race and the stress of daily life, just enjoy being in the moment and find some balance.
They’re challenging - although they’re relaxed, that doesn’t mean they’re easy, and we know you wouldn’t want that of course. We make them challenging so that you can increase your fitness, look good and feel good, especially when you get that wonderful feeling that happens when you make it to the finish and receive your shiny balance medal.
All of our events are coded with one of our four colours to describe the level of challenge, green being the easiest then blue, pink and the toughest being orange. Most of our mini-events are green and blue so you can practice, build your fitness and confidence, then challenge yourself on the bigger ones.
They’re supported - the balance crew will support you every step of the way. And what a crew they are! They’ll act as guides, motivators, mechanics and coaches, encouraging, helping and advising when you need it. They have huge amounts of experience with big challenges so you can trust them to help you reach the finish line.
They’re tasty - the food and drink on our events are equally as important as the challenges; it is about balance after all. At our feed stops, rather than endless gloopy sports gels, you’ll find a range of tasty homemade treats like Vicky’s infamous banana loaf as well as healthy options to fuel your journey. We’ll also organise lunch stops in tea rooms, cafes or pubs and post-event there’s a mix of buffets or sit-down meals, and we’ll ensure we cater for your nutritional requirements so there’s something for everyone.
They’re breathtaking - and not because of the level of challenge, but because we only plan routes through stunningly beautiful countryside. The south-west of England is our home and we love it, so the vast majority of our events are run here or very nearby. We aim to take you to places that you may not have found, sometimes right out in the countryside but at others literally on your doorstep. I never fail to get a buzz as I watch the faces of those taking part in our events as they see the jaw-dropping views that I’ve planned into the route. There’s plenty of evidence that getting out into nature is good for your health too, so you’re improving your physical and mental health in the process.
They’re doing good - all of our events support the charities in some way. By joining us for a mini-event, all of your donations go straight to the charities to help them with their work, and we put a small amount from each big event towards the causes too. We also encourage you to raise money in the form of sponsorship for your challenge, but there’s no pressure to do so as we know how stressful it can be to hit fundraising targets and the charities we work with don’t have to pay in any way for the help we’re trying to provide. If you’d like to support our charities, we’d be extremely grateful.
The schedule for the 2019 events will be launched this month, along with information about all of the charities we’re supporting. Everything will be launched through the blog and newsletter, so if you want to make sure you’re first to receive it and you’ve not done so already, you can sign up to the newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/c5xSj1
Hopefully you can join us for some wonderfully balanced days out.