Liu Batchelor is an ‘inspiration excavator’, she is obsessed with the feeling of excitement and inspiration she sees in people when she helps them discover something new. In 2016, she started 8 sports in 8 weeks, a fun and social way to try lots of different sports in the local area – in a supportive environment of like-minded adults.
Work background? In 2016 I decided to leave my job as a producer as a animation advertising studio. Even though I loved my job, I always knew i wanted to do more. I wanted to use the skills I’d learn in media, marketing, and event to inspire people to get more active, and knew that I could also use my expertise to help sports clubs, organisations and professions to make sport and fitness easier and more accessible for the public.
Sport background? When I was at university, by chance I decided to give wakeboarding a try. First session and I was hooked!! (despite it being end of October and freezing!!). For the next 4 years this was my passion – and I competed up to European level. At the time there were very few women competing, so it was really exciting at that time to be part of a small group of friends/fellow competitors really pushing the boundaries of the sport. However this drive to keep improving and pushing the boundaries took its toll – as I suffered two major knee injuries during my time competing. Although these injuries lead me to decide to retire from competition, there was a silver lining. Although my rehabilitation was very long and hard (full leg cast, followed by 6months in a knee brace….after i broke my knee cap…twice!!!) – It gave me the chance to learn so much about both myself and my body, and I can truly say its one of the things in my life that i’m most proud of myself for overcoming.
After the injury? As a result of my injury, I got into weight training – and decided to set up myself the goal of stepping on stage in a bodybuilding/physique competition (Just to clarify….in the womens’ categories the aim is to look defined and ‘athletic’….not like ‘the hulk’ which some people might imagine!!). I ended up competing for 3 years – winning 3 regional competitions and competing at the nationals, before deciding I’d achieved what I wanted to and stepping back from it (for now at least!!)
100 days / 100 sports? So after being so focused on first my wakeboarding and then the bodybuilding, I felt a little lost for a while without a big goal or strong passion for any one sport. I tried a few things, which I enjoyed but which didnt really ‘hook’ me. I thought a lot about what it is that I enjoyed most about my various experience of sport, and realised that, for me, one of the best times is actually at the very beginning when you are first getting into any sport. Its this very early stage that is the most exciting, good-scary and rewarding – as you’re learning curve is so steep, and you dont have any expectation of what you ‘should’ or ‘shouldnt’ be achieving – and its ok to be bad at something or to get it wrong!! It was this realisation that lead me to have the idea of doing 100 different sports in 100 consecutive days!! I’d learn from experience that, until you try, you just dont know what sport you might really enjoy, and be really good at – and i wanted to inspire and share that belief with others. As part of the 100 Sports challenge I decided to make a video of every sport I did – to help share a taste with others – as well as fundraising for Sport Relief charity 2016. All of the 100+ videos (showing what each sport is all about) I made you can see on my YouTube page.
8 sports in 8 weeks? So when I competed the 100 sports in 100 days challenge, I had lots of people tell me how inspired they were by it. However when I asked which sport they liked the best and if they were going to try it themselves, they were often hesitant; saying either they didnt know where to do the sport, or were nervous about going on their own and being the only beginner and looking silly. It was this that made me realise the need for a more supportive way to encourage people to try new sports – and hence the 8 Sports in 8 Weeks program was born!
8 sports in 8 weeks is a fun and social way to try lots of different sports in the local area – in a supportive environment of like-minded adults. Each week the group go together to a different club to try a new sport – and as well as being an opportunity to explore which sports you like best, its an opportunity to overcome old barriers and learn just how much you are capable of it you are willing to challenge yourself and try new things. The best thing about the program is that, because everyone is a beginner together, you dont have to worry about looking silly or not being very good at some things – as everyone is in the same boat and is really supportive. Each week there is a new sport to try, and so everyone can support each other for those session that they are more or less confident at.
What’s next? I’ve got lots of plans to grow the 8 sports in 8 weeks program; adding more sports and more locations – so that more people can get involved and more clubs have the opportunity to showcase their sports. I also have ideas for a fitness festival, in which over one weekend all the fitness and sports clubs and professionals in the local area can come together to showcase what they do, offer taster sessions, and generally make it easier for more people to get active while having fun doing something they love! I’m also planning to set up a social enterprise which supports people (both physically and emotionally) during sports injury, rehab and return to sport – by linking them up with local healthcare and fitness professionals.