As a child growing up in South Africa I spent many school holidays hiking with my family through the majestic mountains in the Drakensberg range which were situated only a few hours from our home in Durban. We took very little technical gear with us, had basic footwear or “tekkies” as we called them, and would spend hours hiking the trails, swimming in the crisp, clear river pools and waterfalls and admiring the ancient bushman paintings perfectly preserved in the caves.
At the time I am sure I did not realise how very fortunate I was to be introduced to hiking by my parents. They steeped us in nature and life in the outdoors, in holidays far away from life in the city, with nature to entertain and invigorate us. Thankfully in those days, there weren’t yet mobile mobile phones or ipads to distract us or tempt us in to saying we would be “bored” hiking. In fact the word “bored” was not allowed to be mentioned in our home.
I completed my tertiary education at the local university and as a young adult, left home to go abroad and work in the great city of London, where my lifestyle changed dramatically and I spent too much time indoors eating and drinking to keep warm and travelling to and from work in the underground transport system, often leaving home in the dark and returning after a day’s work, also in the dark.
After a few years of this truly sedentary lifestyle, I finally realised that I could not live that life any longer. I often felt sluggish, overweight, downhearted and frustrated all at the same time! I yearned to do regular outdoor activity, for more sunshine and a return to the mountains and a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t yet know how to turn my passion in to a business.
So I left the corporate world to go travelling abroad for a year and during that time of my life I qualified as a Master Trainer and began my journey in search of a healthy lifestyle and fitness through adventure. I made the difficult but important choice to not return to the workplace but to find a way to merge business with passion. Over 12 years I partnered with a great business woman and fellow adventurer to build a successful outdoor business in Sydney and then moved to the Sunshine Coast to establish my new business, Trek Coach. My personal and business life both encompass my passion for walking in nature and taking on adventure goals that encourage my clients and I to keep healthy and fit.
In the last 13 years I have climbed mountains and walked trails all over the world and coached thousands of enthusiastic adventurers to do the same, including my mother Delia, who at 69, took the opportunity to accompany me to climb her first big mountain, the highest peak in Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro.
Delia had always hiked with us as a family when we were young, but she had never slept on a mountain in a tent nor climbed above 2500m. Family and friends thought I had gone mad, but Mum was the perfect student. She trained diligently and listened carefully to every tip I gave her and she walked up Kilimanjaro and danced with me in the snowfields at just under 6000m, a memory we will never forget and the perfect opportunity to thank her for having given me the gift of adventures in the great outdoors.
I never dreamt as a child that my love for hiking would last and grow and become the one thing I am passionate about sharing with all generations of people. It has become my pathway to health. I get excited every time I find a new trail in my local National Park or a secret set of stairs that lead to a viewpoint. I want to grow old being fit and strong and to be able to continue to enjoy hiking trails all over the world. My passion for making “health” my number one priority for myself and my family is driven by my desire to live a life defined by adventure and wellbeing in mind, body and spirit. Every time I venture into the wilderness, I learn lessons about resilience, mental grit, team work and “letting go”. The lessons one learns out in the wild, filter in to our personal and business lives and influence our own personal growth and decision making, much more than we expect, and way more than sitting behind a computer or at our desk.
We desperately need to get ourselves and our children outdoors, so that we spend much less time on electronic devices and more time in nature, to give us every opportunity to experience the wellbeing that comes from being steeped in the wilderness, and the joy of discovering new places and beautiful, quiet spaces in nature.
As most us know, children do what you do and not what you say. So you need to get out there! You are not too old, it’s never too late to start!
We don’t need to go far to have an adventure in nature. We just need to get out the door and make health our number one priority – just add adventure to your life and you will be amazed at how good you feel and how your business will flourish!
Lisa Marshall is the creator and business owner of Trek Coach, an Adventure Fitness Coach with over 13 years in the industry, a writer, speaker and Mum to two.