It’s a new year and time to try something new. But just how daring will you be?
Bucket lists have an air of morbid finality, a list of ‘must-do’ ambitions before that date with destiny. However, a schedule of mind-expanding, physically demanding experiences might be the ideal psychological boost required as we try to shake off the lethargy and restrictions of a pretty miserable 2020.
Rock climbing? Go for it. Run a marathon? Why not? Bungee jumping… well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Although you know what they say, to dare is to do.
You can ease your way into 2021 by learning chess. The success of the compulsive TV mini-series The Queen’s Gambit has made this most unremarkable and nerdy game of strategy suddenly sexy, and there has been a surge in sales of boards and pieces as fans of the Netflix drama get to grips with the intricacies of the board game.
It could be one of the most mentally-challenging things you will do this year – aside from trying to assemble flat-pack furniture or fill in a tax return – and is oddly addictive.
Television is a rich source of ideas for broadening your horizons – the rise in home bakers since the Great British Bake Off launched is testament to that – and another small-screen favourite, Strictly Come Dancing, has long been responsible for injecting a little Latin into new year resolutions, particularly regarding the salsa which is both super sporty and extremely social. Classes and schools have been springing up everywhere from village halls to leisure centres and should be popular for those looking to keep fit, break into a bit of a sweat or shrug off the monotony of lockdown by mixing with real, not virtual, people.
And there are videos on YouTube just to let you know what you can expect.
If you fancy the idea of taking more faster steps, then see how you go with the Couch to 5k programme, an NHS-backed scheme described as a running plan for absolute beginners. Obviously, the intention is to get to 5k but once the running bug bites why not aim a little bit higher and book yourself in for a 10k, half or even a full marathon in 2022.
Much has been made of open-water swimming in recent years, probably sparked by the sight of highly-tuned athletes taking the plunge into a lake at the start of a triathlon. And there really is nothing better than being at one with nature at venues such as the Highgate and Kenwood Ponds in north London, which are open year-round while elsewhere in the capital the likes of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, Hampstead Pond, and Parliament Hill fields are only open during the summer.
Admittedly, it hasn’t got the appeal of a dip in a cenote in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula but, in these travel restricted times, it’s better than nothing.
Alternatively, if there’s nothing there to get your heart pumping, surf the internet.
Surf. Surfing. Now there’s a thought …