“Something funny happens when I take people off the path,” says Karen Liebenguth, founder of Green Space Life Coaching. “People slow down. I’ve noticed you’ve done the same.”
As you’ll have gathered from the name of her business, Liebenguth is a life coach, which is kind of like a therapist, except the focus is less on analysis and introspection, and more on setting up a blueprint to achieve one’s goals. Although she is not
a typical life coach. For starters, hers is a walking practice, and her ‘office’ spans London’s many public parks.
“When you’re sat in one place, your mind can go on a loop – it makes it hard to see new solutions to a problem,” she explains.
“When you get a change of scenery, and you go out in nature, something wonderful happens; you start to have epiphanies.”
For my session, we met up in Victoria Park on what thankfully turns out to be one of the few warm days of this year. I wonder what she and her clients do during the winter months, but she assures me that her practice continues as usual: “We just don’t stop as much.”
She gives me the option to choose my path, but I let her lead me, as she clearly knows the park better than I do. For my session, I decide to focus on an issue that’s plagued me incessantly for the last year; the fact I’ve yet to complete the book I’ve always dreamed of writing. I tell her that for a while I was diligent, but lately I tend to let life get in the way. We do a bit of gentle digging into my past and ultimately come to the conclusion that by not finishing projects, I get to curry the compliment from those nearest to me about how much potential I have. Finish the product, and I risk that perceived potential being unveiled as an untruth should the book bomb.
During our conversation, we never stop walking, and something about undergoing what is essentially ‘therapy on the go’ in such a (thankfully) tranquil setting makes the whole experience seem surreal, almost as if I’m traversing a dreamscape. Perhaps that’s why, when Liebenguth asks me how I’m going to find time in my days to write, and what I’ll do to make myself feel supported and rewarded when I’m doing it, the ideas start to flow.
“What will you say to yourself when you’ve written for so many hours a week?” she asks. I start off slow.
“Er … I’ll say, well done!”
“And what else will you do?”
“Er, give myself a treat. Like chocolate.”
“Good, and what else?” The ideas keep coming. I’ll make a bar graph to chart my progress. I’ll pay myself £25 for every hour
I work on it. I’ll give myself the same advice I’ve given friends in similar predicaments: “You’re not writing in blood. Just get down the words. If it’s shit, you can change it later; no one will know, no one’s reading over your shoulder while you write.”
“How do you feel?” she asks.
I must admit, I feel pretty good; optimistic for the first time in months, and also pleasantly drained – I’ve just got in an hour’s exercise to boot.
How much: Single sessions are £65.
A free 30-minute taster session is also available.
TOP TREATMENT: The Tailor Made
‘Tailor’ rhymes with ‘sailor’ – that might be why during this quickie custom massage the spa plays a seafaring soundtrack. We don’t really know, but Lush Spa treatments are always ‘inventive’. Though short (the massage only lasts 30 minutes), the masseuse will make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for. Point to a nigglesome knot or stiff neck, and she’ll do everything in her nimble-handed power to get it sorted in no time.
How much: £40 for 30 minutes.
Where: 123 Kings Road, SW3 4PL
Tube: Sloane Square
CLASS OF THE WEEK: Running club
Sweatshop, the sports shoe and gear retail chain, has outlets throughout the city, and each hosts weekly 5km running sessions with trained coaches. I was drawn to the club because … well, it’s free. Also because I’ve often heard that running is one of the best methods for losing weight fast.
But the truth is, I’m not a fan of running. It doesn’t take long for me to feel an unpleasant burn deep inside my lungs and, moreover, it’s boring. I thought perhaps running with a group would feel different. As I entered my local Sweatshop, I grew nervous at the stream of lean, sporty men that gathered around. I knew I’d never manage to keep up with them, and I feared slowing down the group as a whole.
Then I spotted the running club’s other contingent; decidedly non-sporty females with designs and anxieties similar to mine. For each run, one coach runs at the front and another at the rear. I can’t answer for the one who takes the lead, but the coach in back was gently encouraging.
He spurred us along and acted as a cheerleader for those flagging behind. By the end, I was red as a beet and drenched in sweat, but I ran my very first 5km, and it felt like a tremendous achievement. DC