The daffodils are now a-bobbing in the breeze and 2020 is in full swing. So, how are those New Year’s resolutions working out? Like an annual pilgrimage, we have all visited the House of Good Intent; starting the year off, hollering “Go Me”, no booze, knocking back green tea by the gallon, joining the expensive gym (again) and then the excuses, insidiously, start to creep in: too tired, too busy, too easy to say when your heart’s not in it. The definition of insanity is surely to keep doing the same thing every year and expecting different results but, hey, we still do it anyway. The Holy Grail? finding activities that you actually enjoy; activities that suit you and fit seamlessly into your lifestyle are key to keeping the endorphins at a peak and adherence more than merely a dream – be honest, if you are a fair-weather friend, cross country trail running is probably not optimal, if you’ve inadvertently become the gym owner’s dream by paying but never setting foot inside, it’s time to change tack. Wellness is a front runner for Word of the Year 2019/20, as we hear it all the gosh darned time but, in essence, that’s what we should be striving for. Being active is a vital cog in the wheel of wellness. But it works alongside finding happiness at home and achieving some sort of work-life balance, so that they all work in yummy harmony.
With a 30 – 83% lower risk of being affected by everything from Dementia to Osteoporosis, exercise is so much more than being a certain size or how you look in the suit that Mother Nature blessed you with. If you didn’t make
it to the gym today (for the third year in a row) or if your main concern when joining the local health club is the cancellation policy, then its time for an intervention…
Indoor Climbing & Bouldering
Climbing is the mother ship of physical activities: improving fitness, strength, flexibility and mental fortitude too, additionally, once you get the hang of it (hang…get it?) you will look, let’s face it, pretty damn cool. Climbing is a real “you vs you” activity; overcoming your doubts and fears while taking on board the perplexity of your chosen climbing route. Which hand goes where and where to place your feet is considerably easier when you are sitting as a spectator, watching with a flat white and double choc chip muffin in your hand.
Boasting an impressive 2000 square metres, White Spider is one of the largest climbing centres in the UK and, brace yourself, it’s in Tolworth. There are over 360 climbing routes, wall to ceiling (yes, really) as well as over 200 bouldering problems (short low routes without using the ropes) including a massive comp wall, “big cave” and dedicated bouldering training area. There is training for individuals and groups, plus, if you want to try it as a family, you can do that too. There is an awesome soft play/climbing castle with lessons for kids aged 3+ and, on the walls, lessons start at 5years so there is something for everyone including expert, free climbers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your belay from your carabiner, maybe it’s time to grab your chalk balls and give it a go.
Who is signing up: All ages from 3+, beginners to professionals
Find it: 225 Hook Rise S, Surbiton, KT6 7LD. Tel: 020 8397 0390,
Perhaps the ultimate HIIT workout, fencing is not the sport you might have thought. If you have visions of some sixth form Etonians parrying in their white onsies before heading off to their debating society, think again. Now accessible to all, fencing is a sport that involves concentration, flexibility and balance as well as using explosive skill with periods of lower intensity work whilst analysing your opponent; figuring out what your strategy will be. An ancient sport dating back to the mid 18th century, fencing is combative so you have to focus solely on your opponent, unconsciously letting go of your daily dilemmas and stresses as you strategize your movement to score points. Like a chess game… but with knives. Luckily, the swords are not actually sharp and any impact is absorbed by your Kevlar jacket.
Epsom Fencing Club was founded by former British no.1 and England Captain, Nick Payne, who, luckily, is also an international referee so there will be no skullduggery on his watch. Nick and his team run classes for children and adults alike and, in addition to fencing, they also teach LED Sabre so you can try your hand at being a Jedi Knight without the fear of losing an arm. Fencing is one of only four sports that have been in every Olympics competition since 1896 and with the 2020 Olympics rapidly approaching perhaps now is the time to jump on board. En Garde!
Who is signing up: Anyone 10 years upwards, beginners welcome.
Find it: epsomfencingclub.org
Sport For All
Keeping active can be difficult but even more so if you have a disability to contend with. Sport provides immediate and far reaching benefits to people with disabilities who can be plagued with health issues, poor social skills and, thus, a lack of confidence. In addition to the health benefits, sport opens up opportunities to develop crucial life skills; learning about teamwork, goals and cooperation as well as handling those inevitable defeats and disappointments. If it’s a team sport people can develop leadership and organisational skills.
Communities have a vital role in increasing the rate of participation of the disabled in sports by making wheelchair-friendly modifications at local sporting venues and seeking sponsorships of sporting equipment as the greatest investment a country can make is surely in its people. As rights activist Jesse Jackson once stated “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.”
The Puffins is a local sports and social club that has been set up especially with disabilities in mind. Meeting every Monday evening at the Rainbow Centre, they do a variety of different activities such as swimming, Boccia, badminton, carpet bowls and table tennis.
Additionally, The Puffins organise their own outings throughout the year so it’s a wonderful place to not only get moving, but to make friends too.
Who is signing up: Over 18’s with any form of disability
Find it: Contact M Slatford 01737357465, email@example.com
Also try: Epsom and Ewell Wheels for All: cycling.org.uk/locations/epsom-ewell-wheels-for-all
The term Kung Fu (also called gung fu) is widely used to describe a significant portion of the Chinese martial arts in the contemporary world. Northern long fist Kung Fu is a very old and therefore traditional style that is known for its powerful kicks, punches and fluid movements. The focus is on hard body conditioning and realistic self-defence scenarios so one will learn to survive a physical confrontation rather than score points in a competition. Originally, this style was developed by one of the lesser known ethnic tribes of northern China, The Hakka, and is around 2000 years old. The basic goals of Kung Fu are to protect against opponents and disable them quickly but there is also a very philosophical side to the art, as it is strongly tied, depending on the style, to Buddhism. Improvements in fitness, flexibility and mental wellbeing are guaranteed but learning self defence also brings increased self confidence and discipline.
The Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy in Epsom take junior students on from age 4 or 5 all the way through to, let’s say, more mature members in their late 60’s and early 70’s. Those with restricted movement can also participate depending on their limitations. The academy was set up by Neil Webster, who was the first person outside of China to reach master status in northern long fist Kung Fu. Neil was also the first person ever in the history of Chan Dao MAA to reach the level of Full Instructor outside mainland China and is now a “Master of Kung Fu” i.e. not to be messed with.
Who is signing up: Adults and children from 5+
Find it: kungfutaichi.co.uk, Blenheim House, 1 Blenheim Road, Epsom, KT19 9AP
You’re Welcome: Neil is offering 2 free trial classes
Back in 1932 a football team from Crewe and a team from Derby came together for a game of football but, with an average age of 700, this was not your everyday match; from there though, the game of Walking Football was born. Fast forward 80 years and there are now over 1000 clubs in the UK and this is growing year on year.
Weekly sessions run in The Rainbow Centre and have now become so popular that the session time has increased from 1 to 2 hours and numbers have gone from around 5, when first introduced 6 years ago, to 24 today. Age groups are split into the over 50’s, over 60’s and then there are the big players, the head honchos, The Veterans, who are all still kicking it at over 68. The rules are pretty much the same as traditional football apart from no contact, no pesky offside rule and most importantly, the small detail in that the merest thought of breaking into a jog will earn you a walk of shame to the sin bin. Granted, the WAGS might all be on HRT and there are no chilled bottles of Cristal in the club room, but the physical and mental benefits are undeniable.
As with any exercise, the health boons range from reducing blood pressure and cholesterol to increasing bone density and endorphins but, more importantly, the camaraderie and social aspects are the real game changers. The club try to go out together once a quarter for a team lunch and even if your schedule won’t allow, there is the after-session coffee meet up to discuss the goals that got away. You will be in safe hands too; Coach, Mary Manion was part of the ladies England Ladies Walking Football team in November 2019 so, who could guide you better?
Who is signing up: Men and women, 50yrs+, people with mobility limitations or injury rehab needs
Find it: Rainbow Leisure Centre, Epsom, KT17 1BN
Also try: Walking Netball
Still lamenting the final of Strictly? Anton Du Beke your screen saver of choice? Adult dance classes are becoming ever more popular and with around 8.5 million people tuning in to see who will lift that glitterball each year, its hardly a surprise that people are signing up in ever increasing numbers. We, evolutionarily speaking, are born to dance; even from the age of 5 months, our babies will bob to the beat and, although some people, let’s face it, are a bit rubbish at it, everyone likes to dance (even if you know its not something anyone should witness). Depending on the type of dance you are doing, the benefits can vary; you won’t get the calorie burn of a Charleston doing a Waltz but, if you are more “ballet” than “street”, it’s important to find your style. Whatever you choose, dance is a joyous skill to learn as well as a being a wonderful form of exercise and a real serotonin booster.
Lili-Mae’s School of Dance runs a variety of classes each week but she has one particular diamond in her crown; one of the classes is just for the big kids. Open to all, this class is not a fixed style and changes every couple of months ensuring that every genre is tried and tested. Each class includes a fitness circuit followed by technique and then finish with practising a routine that is worked on for 4/6 weeks. Lili-Mae’s army of followers are a testament to the fact that you will love every minute; keeping fit, learning a new skill and getting together with like minded people; you don’t have to be a dancer, merely to want to learn how to be one.
Who is signing up: Anyone 18+, from 2 left footed to Shirley Ballas herself
Find it: Imschoolperformingarts.co.uk or contact David Lloyd, Horton Lane (class open to non members)
You’re Welcome: First class is free
Parent N Child
You don’t have to have a babe in arms to sign up but if you have one, or several, then they are more than welcome to join you on your quest for fitness/sanity. New parent classes are a fantastic way to get back into fitness when, if truth be told, you might feel more like staying home with a packet of custard creams, watching Lorraine. Having children, even as they get older, can severely hamper any chances of getting some “me time” and so having the encouragement and support of others is a key component to this style of class and Lauren Hyett runs several in the area.
Happy Fit Mums is a company dedicated to getting people back to fitness after the little ankle biters arrive, no matter what stage of parenthood they are in. Additionally if you are a stay at home dad, you are equally as welcome. All the classes are outside in parks as exposure to daylight improves sleep quality and increases those vital mood-enhancing neurotransmitters (just two hours a week spent outside with the birds and the bees has been proven to increase health and wellness) – and all this on top of the benefits of regular exercise. No need to cash in any babysitting chips with the grandparents as you can bring the little ones with you and the Saturday class gives women of all ages and abilities the opportunity to focus on themselves for one hour a week. Running in Epsom and Worcester Park as well as the Saturday women’s boot camp class. Lauren is a qualified PT with post natal speciality so all workouts are tailor made, safe and effective.
Who is signing up: Post natal mums and dads too (its 2020 people) – whether you have babies, toddlers or teens
Find it: happyfitmums.co.uk or buggyfit.co.uk
You’re Welcome: Lauren is offering OUT readers a free trial class and if you sign up for a block of 10 sessions, then you get a complimentary class
Badminton is a classic. Derived directly from the game “poona”, which was played by British army officers stationed in India in the 1860s, badminton is now a globally recognised sport and renowned as the fastest racquet sport in the universe. Competitive Badminton has, of course, got rules but, in reality, anyone can play as long as there is space… and no wind! A full body workout is totally achievable: if you are good then you will be leaping, lunging, running and twisting with your co-ordination, balance and agility constantly being challenged. If you are rubbish at it then you will spend the whole time running and bending to pick up the shuttlecock so, still a cracking workout even then! Most of all, you will have great fun all whilst whittling the waistline and getting off the sofa.
Ebbisham Sports Centre has, since 2009, been the designated Badminton Performance Centre for Surrey. There is a dedicated badminton hall with 3 courts and sprung timber flooring, which is available for both members and non members, competitive players and those just wanting to have a few larks. There are match nights as well as private coaching sessions available to all ages and stages: “Busy Badminton” sessions are for the 5 and overs and the the club is proud to have members in their 80’s still in attendance.
Who is signing up: Anyone from 5 years +
Find it: ebbisham.com/badminton/badminton-at-ebbisham, call 01372720647
No, not the maniacal mumbling type but walking. Easily one of the most accessible activities available and, best of all, apart from some comfy shoes, not a penny needs to be parted with. Without stating the obvious, walking is quite literally one foot in front of the other, and often overlooked as a form of exercise. Getting your steps up on a day-to-day basis is a great way to stay active but, if you get a wiggle on, brisk walking will help you build stamina, burn calories, and makes your heart healthier. If you throw in a few hills, you are onto a winner and you only have to go as far as the outskirts of Epsom town to find some gut busting inclines.
The Epsom and Ewell Ramblers are part of the 110,000 strong Ramblers organisation, who don their walking boots 3/4 times a week to traverse the byways of the local areas. The walks vary in length from a conservative, 4-6 miles to a, once weekly, whopper of 10-12+ miles, all led by local experts. It’s simple, you meet up, zip up and take off plus, although not a guarantee, thirsts might be quenched at a café or pub if one is chanced upon. Additionally, Ramblers are a charity so your subs go towards the protection of Britain’s footpaths and further promotion of walking for health.
Words by Kim Hawley
Illustration by Tom Hubmann