How sport helps us fulfil our potential

Achieving something in sport isn’t just about getting faster, stronger and better. The benefits stretch way beyond fitness; they can have a massive impact on your professional and personal life too.

The power of sport to help push you on to achieve the things you didn’t necessarily think were possible is at the heart of Virgin Sport’s ethos. Inspiring anyone and everyone to get moving through their Festivals of Fitness, they’re believers that the things you learn from participating in (and enjoying) sport are things you can apply to your whole life. Here three members of the Virgin Sport team discuss how sport has played a vital role in their own lives.

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It's about drive, determination and confidence - Harry Woodward (Customer Service Coordinator)

Running has always been a fun escape for me. I grew up in Cornwall so I always loved exploring the coast and being active - it’s always just been a part of my life. More recently kite surfing has taken me to some amazing places where the sun shines and the sea is warm, opening up opportunities (and fun) that I wouldn’t have ordinarily had. And crucially, my involvement in sports has led to me getting involved in events, a career path I hadn’t really considered before, but which I now love. I’m passionate about making sports events accessible to all.

It’s not just been about having fun though. Through sport I’ve increased my drive and determination, and I have more direction and confidence in my career path and future goals. I’ve also met loads of interesting people, and it’s been a way to bond with those who work in other areas of Virgin too. Many a bright idea comes from a group running session - it’s funny the way that taking a different and more physical approach can sometimes jog your brain (no pun intended).

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Building sports into my routine helps me work more effectively on a daily basis too, so I can get the most out of my time. For example, I’m not very good at sitting still and concentrating for long periods, so going for a run or swim at lunch helps me to really focus in the afternoon and stops me distracting my colleagues. The best part is that there’s usually always someone up for joining me, and then they get to reap the benefits too. An active team is a happy team, and I really think our love and focus for sports helps us do the best work we can.

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You quickly understand the importance of goals - Christian Miller (People Business Partner)

I’ve learnt over the years that in sport, as in life, you only get out what you put in. To achieve success you have to be prepared to sacrifice and put in the hard effort training and practising.

It’s also taught me that failure is inevitable at times and how you cope with that is important - the ability to bounce back without letting it play on your mind. Whether it’s a bad run or not achieving something you wanted, some days things don’t go your way. Whereas other days it feels like you can do no wrong and you often struggle to find a correlating factor as to why! Another valuable lesson I’ve learnt from sports is that individual efforts can help contribute to a victory, but it’s the greater team effort more often than not that determines the outcome.

Growing up, rugby and cricket were my life. My childhood is filled with memories of playing with friends in the park until it became too dark and our parents were yelling at us to come home. Nowadays golf has become the sport I’m most passionate about. It helps me to de-stress (unless I’m playing particularly badly), and it’s a great way to socialise with friends.

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I think sport can make you feel better about yourself, be it physically or mentally, which in turn increases your own confidence and self-esteem. Depending on what I’m doing, it helps me personally to unwind, destress, or provides an outlet for some pent-up anger! It reminds me that goals are important to have both in sport and in life. Incremental goals help to keep you motivated, and after a while it’s satisfying to look back and reflect on what you’ve achieved.

It brings down barriers and connects you with others - Sam Jacobs (Experience Manager)

Sport has always been important to me - over the years I’ve gotten involved with gymnastics, judo, football, cricket, squash and badminton, as well as running and cycling. I also spent too much of my youth attached to a skateboard! I used to obsess over tricks, writing down lists of what I wanted to learn the next day, visualising landing them in my head, then getting up early to maximise the daylight.

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It was just fun at the time, but I realise now that it was teaching me to set goals, teaching me about persistence and determination, and helping me work towards a tangible outcome - all things that are incredibly valuable in my work now.

Although I never would have thought it at the time it helped me a lot with discipline, setting goals and achieving them, and a lot about resilience. There were plenty of falls along the way but - as in life - what else are you going to do except get back up and try again?

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Football has also been incredibly important for me. It truly is a global form of communication - it’s taken me to countries I’ve never been before, where I’ve played for hours with people that I don’t share a language with, but it didn’t matter. Sport connected us, and we had an amazing time, playing for hours. It truly brings down barriers and gets people connecting like nothing else.

On a day-to-day level, sports keep me motivated and engaged. It's amazing the difference in output on the days where you don’t get to break a sweat - I think it’s so important to break up your days with exercise. It’s so easy not to, but if you do you feel so much better, and it shows in your output. Sport mean that you can achieve something manageable every day, and means that you can improve a little every day too, even if it’s running for ten extra seconds. And those little bits add up, in every part of your life.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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