This week, I went chi running in Bali, free-diving in South Africa and mountaineering in Wales. Not literally, obviously – I was stuck at home like everyone else. But I decided to use my ample spare time to seek out some virtual thrills, or at least try to learn some new skills.
I was inspired by Plas Y Brenin, the National Outdoor Centre in Snowdonia. While the centre is closed, it is posting videos and other content to help people brush up their outdoors skills from inside their homes, so we can all make the most of our liberty when the crisis is over (see instagram.com/plasybreninofficial). I had a go at the knots and ropework demonstrated in a mountaineering video. I certainly wouldn’t trust myself to get anyone safely down a mountain just yet, but it was a start.
Plas Y Brenin is just one of 35 outdoors organisations, including the National Trust, the Ramblers and Forestry England, that are sharing ideas about how to stay active in and near your home. Many of them are on the Get Outside Inside hub on the Ordnance Survey website. As someone who is lost without Google Maps, I found the beginner’s guide to “proper” map-reading particularly useful.
After the stress of orienteering, albeit just around my garden, I chilled out with a free 45-minute Breathe Calm class hosted by Adventures in Movement, a chi running company. The teacher, Gray Caws, should have been gearing up for his next running retreat in Bali. Instead, he is holding virtual workshops (free and paid) on running technique and efficient breathing, with tips that I am now putting into practice during my daily walk/jog. Now would also be a good time to commit to the free 20-day chi running course, with daily drills.
With swimming off the agenda, I settled for a free breath hold workshop with Finisterre, a surfing company (next workshop 25 April, instagram.com/finisterreuk). Hanli Prinsloo, a record-breaking South African freediver and ocean conservationist, talked us through something called “CO2 tables”, a way of improving the body’s tolerance of carbon dioxide through successive breath holds. Practising my tables a few times a week during won’t make me a champion freediver – but at least I might be able to swim an underwater length of my local lido when it finally reopens.
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