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TMCNet:  Portrait: Sam Taylor, adventure-seeker ; Who Is Sam Taylor [Western Morning News (England)]

[July 13, 2014]

Portrait: Sam Taylor, adventure-seeker ; Who Is Sam Taylor [Western Morning News (England)]

(Western Morning News (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Cornishwoman Sam Taylor has taken on the challenge of trying 100 sports in a year.

The outdoorsy mum-of-three is an internet entrepreneur and runs her own business selling digital camera equipment.

She set up sofaofadodger.co.uk which aims to provide a complete resource of sports and activities so that people can enter their postcode and be given a listing of activities in their area.

She particularly wants to help women to overcome that initial nervousness of attempting a new form of exercise on their own. Of her 100 sports in a year challenge she says: "I'm getting used to just turning up to things. It isn't always easy to turn up to a club or a class and not know anyone and not know what your supposed to be doing or where you're supposed to be going. It can take people a lot of courage to come along to try out a sport but people tend to forget that if they have belonged to a club for a long time. I still feel nervous sometimes, specifically with gyms.


"I'"I'll be waiting at gym class wit everyone and no one talks. There's a study which says that two-thirds of women are more likely to do exercise if they go with a friend so if people don't have that friend to go with then clubs have to be that friend, that person will make you feel at ease.

"Eighty per cent of women aren't doing enough exercise to be healthy so it's the women we really need to work on specifically so that they have that kind of welcome. Every club I've been to, without fail, they have been so welcoming. "There is always someone there to take the time to coach you and to talk about technique. That's something I want to get across. If you're apprehensive about it, don't be, because you will be warmly welcome. Everyone feels nervous at first so take a friend or phone in advance and speak to someone to be reassured. Everything you do is habit and sometimes you have to push yourself." How many times do you hear about an activity and think to yourself 'one day I'll try that'? Nine times out of ten such thoughts remain just that as the pace of 21st century life with its competing demands of work and family see leisure time in short supply.

But Sam Taylor is on a mission to make the thought a reality with her challenge of trying 100 new sports in a year.

"It's about two a week I'm doing, ending hopefully without injury or illness or being carted off to an institution next May," said Sam, who lives just outside Bodmin with husband Paul and their three children. Her unusual quest began on May 1 and she is, so far, 20 sports in with plenty of stories to tell from bowling with 80-year- olds through to sparring with 20-year-olds in the boxing ring and bursting into tears after a particularly cathartic yoga session. The 80 activities still to come will see her take part in a range of mainstream sports as well more unusual activities such as powerhooping and korf ball.

In all, 90 of the challenges will take place in Cornwall with a few, such as baseball in Devon, and others, such as cycling, taking place in other parts of the UK after social media put Sam in touch with other people who are taking part in similar experiences and they decided to team up for some activities. The idea for the challenge came about after Sam was contacted by a number of different sports clubs which wanted to register on her website sofadodger.co.uk The site aims to provide a complete resource of sports and activities so that people can enter their postcode and be given a listing of activities in their area. When an octopush club contacted the site to register on it, Sam didn't have a clue what it was - underwater hockey as it turns out - and thought that a lot of site users may not know either so she set about finding out more about some of the unusual sports that were listed.

This soon morphed into "a wineinduced decision'' to take on the 100 sports in a year challenge that Sam is now getting stuck into.

To document the challenge, Sam is blogging about each activity with an extra blog every time she completes 10 to reflect on what she's learned.

It's something she's combining with running an ecommerce business which sells digital camera equipment and the sofadodger website itself - as well as being mum to Lauren, 11, Izzy, seven and Oli, six. She's also a keen hockey player, having played competitively since the age of 13 as well as running the junior section and being secretary of Bodmin Hockey Club.

The obvious question is where she finds the time for it all ... let alone taking on more. But Sam believes the physical, and perhaps more importantly, the mental and social benefits of sport mean that it's a case of making the time.

"I think it's really important," she said. "It's not only good for you, it's good for everyone in the family. I've liked seeing my kids asking me what I'm doing, I want them to know that it's good to try different sports. I think you just have to fit it in. I'm not the poster girl for making sure you do that but I do think it's important to get out of the house and try something different." Although she grew up in Bodmin, Sam went to work in London when she left school, establishing a successful career in marketing. But after she married Paul and they had their first daughter, the couple decided to move back to Cornwall so that she could have the same quality of life that Sam had enjoyed.

When they first moved down, Sam started selling camera and camcorder supplies on ebay, starting a fully-fledged ecommerce site in 2003 before going on to launch sofadodger earlier this year.

The idea for the website came about because she found there was no single site which listed activities in a particular area.

The site has grown to cover most of the UK with more than 3,000 clubs listed so people can find out about what's going on in their area.

Having discovered first-hand exactly how much is going on in communities across the country, Sam is convinced there really is something for everyone.

Although she insists that she doesn't want to nag anyone about taking more exercise, she is passionate about the benefits it can bring. "My message would be to see what's out there - to get the information and go for it. If you're apprehensive about it, don't be because you will be warmly welcomed," she said.

"I've used sport in my own life to meet people. When I moved to London I didn't know anyone and the first thing I did was join a hockey club and it gave me a social life. There is so much out there. I found it shocking to read a study about how lonely a lot of people feel but there are clubs for all abilities and the cost is not huge." As well as being documented via the sofadodger blog, word about Sam's challenge is also spreading on social media, with several people contacting her to say that they have tried new activities as a result. She admits that such feedback has been a nice surprise - but is keen that she's not held up as some sort of poster child for taking up sport.

"It's hard for me to be the face of this. I have had quite an anonymous job running an ecommerce site and being a mum. I haven't put myself out there but I knew with this that people needed to see a face." I found it shocking to read a study about how lonely a lot of people feel but there are clubs for all abilitiesSAM TAYLOR (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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