An interview with Annie
Give us a bit of background into why you, Annie, took on 52 challenges in 52 weeks, the challenge that led to Exerk?
At a troubled time in my life - not knowing my next career steps, doubled up with my Dad battling the leukaemia that took his life - I found myself deciding that the best idea I had had in a while would be for me to complete 52 sporting challenges in 52 weeks...only 51 more than I managed the year before!
I had been frustrated that everything else took priority over and above exercise and I found any excuse to duck out of fitness commitments. I really wanted to prove to myself I could set goals and achieve them, and as you can see I don’t do things by halves!
If you had to sum Exerk up in one sentence:
Exerk is here to help busy people lead more active and healthy lives.
What motivated you to start Exerk?
My motivation to start Exerk stemmed from a heightened awareness of how crazy it is that we, modern human civilisation, spend so much time sitting. It can’t be good for us but it’s not going away. Fitting exercise into our ever more busy lives is tough and our good intentions fall away at the smallest obstacle.
I have launched Exerk to minimise the barriers to us getting up and exploring, experiencing and energising through outdoor fitness. Through Exerk, I guess I’m trying to show that we can and should set aside time for our health - it’s one aspect that’s sure to positively impact the rest of the juggling act of life..
What did you enjoy most about the 52in52?
Connecting with people and learning so much from those connections…about psychology, business, creativity, ambitions..to name a few. There is so much energy out there. It’s just trapped under desks, in lifts and on escalators.
What do you hope to achieve with Exerk?
Through Exerk, I aim to share the joy of being active and help make movement more accessible. Organising events that show a different side of getting active - making it much more collaborative and light-hearted is my main channel. Writing, speaking and coaching are complementary channels that allow me to connect with more people, share and grow together.
What tips can you give our readers that want to have a better life-work-exercise balance?
Step one is recognising the benefits of the balance itself, and in particular of exercise. Step two is making it a sustainable reality.
I’m afraid I’m bad at the balance; I fit work and play in but at the sacrifice of sleep. It’s not good for my health and my biggest fears are injury and burn out – I need to get used to early nights.
A tip I do have though is to organise activities with colleagues. By doing sport as a team, you all feel ok about setting time aside for sport even if it does encroach on the working day, plus you get the benefit of having some fun away from the desk together. The trick is to find an activity that includes everyone. Try a hike, volley ball, even ping pong.
Exerk has a range of ideas for challenges to hopefully make choosing your goals easier. We also want to help you stick to your guns. Feel free to send through your chosen challenges to me.
What about for the couch potatoes that need the inspiration to get started?
Step by step. Nothing brash and crazy. Just getting used to setting aside time in your day, week and month is an important process. If it helps, one hour is only 4% of your day so an hour every few days shouldn’t, theoretically, be too tough.
Find the fun in it. Some people like gentle activity, others like to go intense and cram. Some choose to go solo, others prefer a team around them.
Identify your inspiration and make it positive; my drivers have always been fresh air and exploring. Avoid goals that induce guilt and that you end up resenting.
What are your three favourite spots in and around London to exercise?
Hampstead Heath – hilly, woody, with bathing ponds and great views. It’s as near to countryside as you get in central London.
Thames Bridge run – a route along the river, zigzaging across the bridges. As an early morning or evening run, the sights are pretty momentous.
Mystery destinations – I will often pick somewhere completely new to run/ cycle/ walk to, the adventure adds to the fun.
What’s in the pipeline for Exerk from now?
More of the same high energy, real life challenges hopefully. This year I’m going for the little and often, I am listening to you, seeing what you all think and figuring out what Exerk can design to help you be more active. Perhaps I’ll take on 12 massive challenges in 12 months? Ideas welcome
Annie in the media
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