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The Great Outdoors

Anna-Marie Watson in a Fenwicks plastic bag

Three months old…

On a glacier in Norway…

In a Fenwicks* plastic bag…

In the 21st century some might call it child cruelty, though with hindsight this was probably the moment the seed was sown that leads me to reflect so positively on Arctic warfare training with the marines in Norway, mad marathons starting at Everest Base Camp and extreme treks across the Sahara Desert. This adoption or “download” (Bargh & Morsella, 2008) of cultural norms through an unquestioned passive imitation from our parents results in our predisposition to prefer particular aspects of our environment over others. For me, it’s the call of the Great Outdoors…

Every photo reveals evidence of an active childhood under my parental influence with nature as the main backdrop. Endless school days were spent staring out of the window and watching the trees blowing in the wind; waiting for the final school bell to escape and explore with my contemporises. This habit remains entrenched as I habitually position myself at meetings, in conferences, or in the office with one eye glued to a glimpse of the outdoors looking forward to my daily training sessions. The innate sense of freedom, creativity and free will derived from this environment and conversely the feeling of being trapped, stifled and confined when indoors, remain strong drivers that have shaped my career choices and lifestyle and will continue to mould my future.

Since September 2015 I’ve attended seemingly endless networking events in various restaurants, theatres, bars and golf clubs across the southwest to establish and nurture valuable working relationships and friendships. The concept of combining the power of the Great Outdoors and kinaesthetic motion with networking was so blatantly obvious it clearly evaded me for a couple of months…walking + networking + the Great Outdoors = Netwalking.

The inaugural zero edition netwalk launches next Wednesday from the Tithe Barn in Bradford-on-Avon and there will be more events organised in various different locations over the year. It's the perfect opportunity to reflect on your business, bounce ideas about with others, generate new strategies, develop new opportunities, build connections and draw inspiration from nature one step at a time with the added bonus of gentle exercise.

The lifestyles we embrace in the 21st century have literally caused the human species to ground to a halt where “physical inactivity is killing us” (Coghlan, 2012). Our genetic physiological predisposition as hunter-gatherers is to walk up to 12 miles per day and this kinaesthetic action subsequently supports our neurological pathways to enhance creativity and innovation. These biochemical changes circulate more blood and oxygen to our brain, promote new connections between brain cells, increase hippocampus volume, stimulate new neuron growth and transmit messages (Jabar, 2014). The netwalk concept draws on these neurological, biological and genetic physiological factors to foster imagination, ingenuity and inventiveness within each netwalker, facilitate conversation and ultimately improve performance at a business, personal and lifestyle level.

Join us walking in the Great Outdoors for some “cognitive candy” (Medina, 2008) to walk, talk, network and stimulate your inner neurons. Keep an eye open for further events in the South West throughout the year. Finally there is always an option to design a bespoke netwalk or coaching Walking & Talking event to meet your business outcomes or personal goals.

Note *Fenwicks is an independent department store founded in 1882 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by John James Fenwick.

Photo 1: Introduction to the Great Outdoors “bivvying” in a plastic Fenwicks bag aged 3 months in Norway (1979).

Photo 2: First Pyrenean expedition with an overnight stay in a French mountain hut with my dad (1983).

Photo 3: Escaping the chaos of our day-to-day 21st century lifestyles to the French Alps with my brother (2014).

Photo 4: Venturing further afield to the Annapurna Circuit, Himalayas, Nepal to share the beauty of the mountains with students from the British International School Riyadh (2015).

Photo 5: Enjoying early morning sun along the Avon Valley Canal, Wiltshire (2015).


Bargh, J.A. & Morsella, E. (2008). The Unconscious Mind. [Online] Available at: Accessed 26 Jan 16.

Coghlan, A. (2012). The Workout Pill: Why Exercise is the Best Medicine. [Online]. Available at: Accessed 26 Jan 16.

Jabar, F. (2014). Why Walking Helps Us Think. [Online]. Available at: Access 9 Feb 16.

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