Got any life obstacles you’d like to get rid of? Uh, duh Rach, it’s 2020… It’s been a tough year, and that’s why I’ve decided to take on a personal challenge to end the year on a high. If you’d like to, I’d love for you to join me and face some of the roadblocks in your life head on.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year, it’s that overcoming challenges will give you an incredible boost of self-esteem. It doesn’t help to ignore a challenge and hope that it will just go away. Yeah, it might. But it “might” take ages. You “might” miss out on life, and you “might” just look back and wish you hadn’t wasted time waiting for it to go away. Once tackled, challenges often dissolve and the bi-product is strength and experience – something that nobody can take away from you.

I’ve had a huge injection of strength from experience this year and I’m so grateful. ☺ I had to tackle some big challenges, but now they have gone, and in their wake I’ve gained resilience. I’m wiser now and all the better for them; the roadblocks have gone.

When I heard Keith Burnet, Global Markets CEO for Les Mills, announce to a room full of people that he was going to row across the Atlantic ocean with three other men, at first I thought my industrial hearing impairment had taken a turn for the worse and that what he’d actually said was something quite reasonable. Like, “I’m going to go across to that commotion with three other men”. Or “would you throw across that lotion with aloe vera to Ben?!” Nope, not at all. I had heard correctly (for once) and this guy was about to become THAT guy who does THAT thing that most people would consider as significant grounds for familial intervention! You know, the type where people who love and care for you sit you down and say you are not taking care of yourself and it’s time to put the Nutella down…

Well here we are, just a short time away from the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge on December 12th. Keith and his team will live in that teeny-tiny, sweaty, windy, soaking-wet rowing boat, spending between 30 to 40 days AT SEA, sitting practically on top of each other, rowing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, 3,000 miles to Antigua across the ATLANTIC OCEAN! Ummmmm anyone else feel like their moans and groans about being stuck at HOME in lockdown with family and flatmates, with access to a shower, a bed, a coffee machine, Netflix, Instagram… (you see where I’m going with this...) are a complete non-starter? Just me?

The boat is a she and she is called Valkyrie, a tiny 28-feet long and a whopping 1.5 tonnes in weight, which is around the same amount of Nutella I have eaten this year! (Please someone fact check that, and don’t underestimate how much of that stuff I can consume…☺)

Keith and his friends had been talking about this for five years and decided this would be the year to do it to raise money for UNICEF and Les Mills Workout For Water. He wanted to inspire his children with the notion that anything at any age is possible if you really commit and dedicate yourself (I like this a lot).

This got everyone thinking: how can we support Keith and crew and Workout For Water? After the year we’ve just had, we’re all are really receptive to that feeling of hope, right? Hope has the power to lift us up. It focuses us on achieving something big in the near future, and this provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, as well as a way to finish the year on a high. ☺

Les Mills national offices established 24-hour shifts to run or row or exercise over the weekends, getting a taste of what it feels like to physically push yourself beyond what are acceptable levels of exercise.

(Having just said that, I’m sure some of you have uttered these words and thoughts at certain presenters during your Les Mills workouts this year too! Ha ha ha ha).

I’m going to do a big row the week Valkyrie sets sail (can you say that about a boat without a sail?) and instead of asking for donations, I’m going to donate and suggest that anyone else who wants to join me rowing or otherwise can, and then pop their own donation in the pot and together we can push (or pull ha ha ha) each other. I’m definitely better at pushing than pulling, and this will help me balance that all out! ☺

If I said, “Would you like a heap of strength and experience delivered to your doorstep by the end of the year?”, what would you say? Probably, “Yeah I would, but what’s the cost?”

To which I’d reply, “Ahhhh so it’s gonna cost you several large life obstacles. Got any you’d like to get rid of?”

I know the answer would likely be: “I’ve got a few I wouldn’t mind getting rid of, yeah!”

Well the truth is, I can’t help you all individually to overcome those life obstacles by the end of the year. However, I do know that taking on a short-term goal, one that stretches you but you see it through, will deliver a sense of achievement that’s gonna feel like rocket fuel to your soul and self-esteem. Your sense of self and strength will be elevated to a greater level – and that’s something that can’t be bought.

It’s got to be big enough to make your palms sweaty at the thought of it. The sweatier the palms, the greater the buzz when all is said and done.

I can only begin to imagine how Keith and the crew will feel once they complete this journey that started a long time ago and has taken such a huge amount of effort and dedication. What a way to start 2021 team Valkyrie!!!

Why don’t you join us and wrap up this year with a challenge? Please don’t try and row the Atlantic (it’s a bit late for that) but I’m sure your creative juices have already started flowing and you are wondering what can be done from inside lockdown! I know one example of a couple of athletes who, stuck in quarantine hotels upon landing home, decided to run the Auckland Marathon a couple of weekends ago from INSIDE their hotel rooms! Ha ha ha ha ha.

Okay, ready , steady… ROW!!

Learn more about Keith’s Atlantic Challenge.