Ballito runner, open water swimmer and businesswoman Sarah Swainson has used her passion for helping people get outdoors and active to create a community of supportive, uplifting and ‘ordinarily active’ humans.
Most people know that they should – and would really like to – live an active life. But, too often, there are little things (like the voices in our heads telling us we don’t know what we’re doing) that get in the way of us living the way we’d like to.
According to Sarah, living actively looks different for everyone. And it’s never been more important for our mental and physical wellness than it is right now. “Statistics show that the rates of illnesses like depression and anxiety are currently sky high. Physical activity is proven to be a useful way of coping with these issues.”
Having worked closely with women in her high-end lingerie business called Sarah Elizabeth, and as a runner and swimmer herself, Sarah says many women simply feel very intimidated by taking up a sport, joining a club or trying out a new activity.
“They are worried they don’t know what they are doing and are just not sure how to get active.” That’s where Sarah’s Ordinarily Active ‘tribe’ comes in.
“I’ve always been passionate about seeing and helping people get active and I wanted to work in a space that I felt passionate about”.
“Ordinarily Active (OA) is more than just a group of like-minded people. It’s a community of ordinary people whose goal is to live actively and inspire others to do the same. When you live actively it’s contagious and you can live better,” says Sarah. There are three main pillars to OA. The first is about inspiring and sharing stories, information and knowledge. “Every month we host members-only Zoom calls with special guests who share their expertise and knowledge. We recently hosted a below-the-knee amputee who shared his story with our members, and next month we’ll be chatting to someone from the Shark Life Conservation group about swimming in the ocean. It’s all about sharing information and connecting our members to experts who can inform and inspire.”
The second pillar is derived from Sarah’s previous business, where she specialised in high-end swimwear and sports bras. Members get special rates for programmes, OA gear and accessories.
The last element to OA is the actual experiences, events and programmes. From joining their swims or runs (or run/swims), to taking part in the eight-week JumpOn walk/run programme, there are a variety of events and activities that members can join and be a part of. “The biggest thing we encourage,” says Sarah, “is for people not to compare themselves to others. My ‘ordinarily active’ looks different to yours and we are all there to motivate and inspire each other. ‘Active’ doesn’t have to mean high level activity either, it could be lunging down the passage or doing calf raises while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.”
That being said, however, Sarah loves encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones and try something new! “It’s so wonderful to see everyone encouraging each other. It becomes less about you and more others. If you live more actively you also tend to be more aware of things like social change and putting your voice behind something important.”
OA hosted a ‘pubbing for pangolins’ charity pub run to raise funds for pangolin conservation earlier this year. “I believe that ‘strength protects’ and that it is the responsibility of those who are stronger in a community to protect the weaker. We are starting to have these important, open conversations and who knows what could happen?”
Annual membership to become a member of Ordinarily Active is R999 (or R99/month), which gives you access to all the runs and swims, inspirational Zoom chats and loads more.
Details: www.ordinarilyactive.co.za, @ordinarilyactive
Photo credit: Gary Henwood-Fox