5 Steps (and Inspirational Adventurers) to Get you to Brave the Great Outdoors

Landscape illustration of blue mountains and pine trees with a rive running through it

Engaging with nature and being outdoors is widely believed to improve both mental health and physical wellbeing, especially relevant in times such as these. 

It can feel hard to know where to start, so here are a few steps you can take towards a more active, outdoor lifestyle. From working out in your closest park to activities like rock-climbing, swimming and running... it can all start from your phone or laptop.

Here are influencers and groups improving representation, educating on inclusion and equity and helping make enjoying the outdoors accessible for all. 

1. Do your research & reading: Melanin Base Camp (Danielle Williams and Dr. Favia Dubyk)

Melanin Base Camp is a community that increases the visibility of 'outdoorsy Black, Indigenous, People of Colour', especially increasing representation and opportunities for people of colour and people with marginalised identities in outdoor adventure sports.

Founded by editor Danielle Williams, an African-American skydiver with a disability, Danielle also formed the Diversify Outdoors coalition “promoting diversity in outdoor spaces where people of colour, LGBTQIA+ and other diverse identities have historically been underrepresented,” she posts articles directly on the site and on their social pages.

Dr Favia Dubyk, or @felinefavia on instagram, is a regular contributor and a physician, outdoor adventurer and cancer survivor who is also on Season 10 of American Ninja Warrior! She writes for Melanin Base Camp about overcoming fear, staying resilient through outdoor adventure sports, and chronic pain, chemotherapy and recovery

Both write candidly, and are honestly just really strong, mentally and physically. Favia posts regularly about her training regime which is helpful for anyone wanting ways to stay strong at home who know a little about climbing already and Danielle’s writing is informative for anyone wanting to educate themselves on intersectionality outdoors. 

2. Mental preparation: Feel Better Live More podcast (Dr Rangan Chatterjee)

Medical doctor of 20 years, Star of BBC One Series, Doctor in the House, author and advocate of outdoor running, Rangan Chatterjee has navigated the adventure of life well, with his wife and two kids and a successful podcast that discusses topics such as healthy habit-forming and sleep hygiene

Listening to these is like taking a holistic approach to perceptions around lifestyle management, identity and motivation. His podcasts feature guests from Eastern and Western thought principles (from monks to entrepreneurs) on a non-judgmental platform that goes towards training the mental and emotional aspects of outdoors adventure and exercise routines.

3. Join a Crew: Swim Dem Crew, Black Girls Hike & Pride Sports LGBT+ Club Finder 

The social aspect of enjoying the outdoors should not be overlooked. From accountability to sharing experiences, if your existing network can’t offer it, there’s plenty of groups out there and on Spark & Co  offering a community that can. 

Watch this great 11-minute film about Swim Dem Crew and the work they do in London, sign up the Black Girls Hike newsletter to stay up to date on their meet-ups and use the Pride LGBTQIA+ Sports Club Finder for clubs and crews across the UK, many still offering digital sessions during lockdown for a dizzying array of activities.

4. Find Role Models: Noah Nkenda, Irene Yee, Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

2020 has been a lesson in making digital connections, and there are a lot of inspiring role models that can keep you on track about what is possible. Here are a few recommendations:

Scouted at a Paralympic Talent Day, Dutch adaptive runner Noah Nkenda crowdfunded a prosthetic leg and is training towards competing in the Paralympic games 2024.

Irene Yee or “Lady Lockoff” is an outdoors and action sports photographer that highlights “the accessible side of rock-climbing,” and "finding inspiration in those with passion over muscle" who contributes to Nat Geo, Backcountry, The North Face and other household names.

Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert and writer who is extremely active in climate policy and ocean conservation, spearheading many important environmental and green initiatives. 

5. Digitally ‘Exercise Anywhere’: Cassie Ho, Dominique Davis, Morgan Tyler, Piseth Sam

Weather, mood, energy and hormone-levels; it’s not always practical to physically ‘be’ outdoors, but you can train almost anywhere with digital exercise videos. Whether in a group, alone in a flat, indoors or outdoors, it’s great to have a “go-to” activity you can turn to when you feel like a boost or quick exercise endorphin-release! 

Incorporating just one or two online workouts into your week sets a great foundation for overall fitness and confidence outdoors.

Finding someone you can listen to AND sweat it out alongside can be a bit of an art. It can be about finding personalities you relate to, so here are a few options:  

  1. Asian-American Cassie Ho at Blogilates has an encyclopaedia of home workout videos, with over 5 million Youtube followers. Her joyful, quirky videos can be done anywhere and start at just five minutes long, with ‘no jumping’ and quiet workouts for those living in flats, and also injury-friendly, targeted ones. 

  2. If you prefer a more spiritual, intentional yoga-style workout, Brown and Bendy’s Dominique Davis has online manifestation yoga workouts, and posts daily positive affirmations.

  3. Morgan Tyler posts both paid and free yoga videos online, while Piseth Sam offers fitness-based workouts in small online sessions and as a licensed massage therapist and certified personal trainer, specialises in trauma-informed structural bodywork, functional movement, fitness nutrition, strength and metabolic training, corrective exercise techniques, and mobility coaching. Both are queer-friendly too!

There are also some great free options available out there with just a little research on our Nature and Adventure resources

If you would like to explore Outdoors Adventure Sports and exercise further: