Thursday, December 13, 2012

How many challenges can you face?

So, I've decided to take up salsa dancing.

OK, let me explain: I'm not really comfortable on the dance floor. Everyone has this assumption that because I'm a musician, I should have a natural sense of rhythm when it comes to moving to music. On top of that, I've spent years (decades, really) accompanying dance classes on the piano. So I should be a great dancer, right?

Wrong. I have no idea if I'm a great dancer or not, because I don't really like to dance. Why? Simple. I'm a musician. I spent the formative years of dance "learning" actually on stage. So while people my age were dancing and getting their awkwardness about it out of the way, I was usually either playing the music they were dancing to or hanging out with the DJ who was. Or I was hanging out with my headbanger friends who were too cool for dancing.

Regardless, it's something I've missed out on for the most part. So when I saw a Groupon for salsa dance lessons in Markham, I thought, "what the hell...why not?" And the rest is history. Or, the future I guess, since it starts next month.

So the gang at The Man Sphere caught wind of this, and now there's a challenge on. This is how we're doing it:

We're calling it "12 Months of Groupon Out-of-the-Box Challenge." 
The prize: You get to do stuff you wouldn't normally do. 
The challenge:
1. Go here: and get an account (or use your account if you already have one. 
2. Find deals that offer EXPERIENCES more than just stuff. Your mission will be to get one deal a month (you're free to try more) that takes you out of your comfort zone.
- Spend no more than $50 on any given experience.
- Buy no more than one Groupon per month for the purpose of this challenge. You can buy as many as you want of course. But for this exercise one is enough (nobody wants you to go broke).
- If presented with a CHOICE, choose the two-person option.
- Try to strike a balance between activities and things like restaurants.
- Don't get stuff like car care packages or home decorating.
Keep a journal, and write about your experiences. We'd love to hear about them here, and we'll publish your stories at the end of 2013, and see how much fun you've had!
Just to give you some ideas, right now there are GTA deals for dozens of restaurants of all kinds, walking tours, wine tasting experiences (one includes snowshoeing!), dance classes, spa packages, teeth whitening...the list goes on and on. So check your local area, throw the "it costs too much" excuse out the window, and take a leap out of your comfort zone!

I'll be following and blogging along with this challenge all year, because it's FUN. I've already booked in for teeth whitening in Downtown Toronto, and have two tickets for Yuk Yuks in Ajax. I'm looking forward to finding more cool things to do come January.

Thing is, this isn't my only challenge for next year.

Remember, I have it in mind to tackle the Tough Mudder in 2014. To this end, I have sort of a strategy (sort of) in terms of my own workouts. I could use a few more on my team though...but one way or another, it's about me finishing. So, starting in January:

Mornings: TACFIT Commando. This is major endurance and mobility training in a confined space, but it will get the joints and muscles honed and moving through full ranges of motion.

Evenings: T30 (four weeks) to cover strength, testosterone, and some additional cardio.

To do the entire TACFIT program from beginning to end actually takes a year and a half, so there's no need to take breaks there. I also have RushFit, if I get bored (it's similar in structure and tactical or mobile fitness). There are other muscle building programs I plan to take on throughout the year though, notably those by Vince delMonte and John Romaniello. I'm hoping to do some trail shredding to help with the obstacle part of the Mudder as well.

Think that's enough?

Not for me. Not for what I want to be when I grow up. To improve cognitive function as well as general well-roundedness, I'm going to get on the language bandwagon. I have in my collection several language learning programs (details later), including French, German, Italian, Russian, Mandarin and Japanese. Each program is forty-five hours in length. At an hour a day (in two half-hour sessions), that's six weeks per course, so it's doable in less than a year. For sure I want to get a handle on French, Russian and Japanese though.

Is that the end of my challenge list for 2013? Not by a long shot. But it's a pretty good start, I think. And you may be thinking that's a lot to put on one plate for a guy who has a full-time job, two businesses to run, and a four-year-old (soon to be five...yikes!). But really, what's here represents an hour a day of exercise and an hour a day (usually while driving) of language practice. The Groupon stuff, that's just spare-time material.

These are challenges designed to improve myself or in some way break my usual routines. They're not my goals. My goals are very specific, and in some cases the challenges I've set for myself are part of the method of attaining those goals. But in other cases, they're just part of the overall goal of being more awesome.

What challenges are you taking on in 2013? Maybe...try that Groupon one! You'll be glad you did.


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