A journey to health, happiness, and higher mountains

First Lesson at Snozone Castleford – I Did It! Facing Fears, Learning New Things

Words cannot even begin to describe how happy I am right now to have successfully completed my first lesson. For somebody who more or less stayed indoors for six months with little human interaction and who has multiple mental and physical health conditions, to be be able to do this was a huge step forwards in my recovery and was one of the best and most fun experiences of my life.

That’s not to say it was the easiest thing for me to go and do. I was so simultaneously excited and terrified when the day arrived, but as it turned out, my nervousness beforehand was completely unnecessary and wasted energy – not that I would know that until I was doing it, or that I was able to help it, mind.

First though, I had to get there, and this was no easy task. I can’t drive so my only option was to take public transport, but I’m actually scared of both buses and trains for various reasons which are only made worse when I’m already in a state of heightened anxiety, as I was. But I was so determined that I was going to do this that somehow, after much googling and checking details with the staff at the bus station, I miraculously managed to find my way to the right bus, get on said bus, and even get off at the right place.

When I got into Xscape, I was shaking and panicky trying to navigate through the place. It felt full of people, though in hindsight it definitely wasn’t, and it was like a maze of shops that I was stuck in with no clue of the direction I was supposed to go in. When I finally found the reception desk at Snozone this had not fully worn off. However, the staff were so friendly and the woman who was there even commented on my anxious state and did her best to reassure me and help me relax while she checked me in and gave me my hired clothing.

Once I had my gear on, I was feeling a lot better. Still nervous, of course, but excited for what was ahead. I went to get my boots and my board and wait for the instructor and I was both happy and amazed to discover that my very first lesson would be taught by a woman. I’ve often been told that snowboarding was a “man’s sport”, and obviously I have some anxieties around men after what has happened to me in my life, so I feel that luck was on my side that day and everything was falling into place to make me feel the most comfortable I could have possibly felt. Shoutout to Charlotte for being a brilliant instructor, for having both a super cool and really lovely personality, and for making me feel really at ease.

The first half of the lesson covered the basics of the board, skating with one foot strapped in, and toe edge control/diagonal side slipping. Coming down backwards felt quite bizarre to start with, but I actually got the hang of it fairly quickly. Although, I was the first to fall. While just skating. Of course.

The second half of the lesson was a recap of toe edge control and learning the same on heel edge. This was a harder for me, and I sat hard on my tailbone a few times. At one point I was convinced that I was not getting it at all and maybe never would, but I was determined to persevere anyway and suddenly it clicked. Once I finally realised that no matter what, even and especially when I hit a bump, I needed to keep my toes up, I couldn’t understand why I’d found this so difficult.

I felt such a sense of accomplishment after passing my first two stages because I was so convinced that I would be completely hopeless, the only girl, and faceplanting or falling flat on my arse every three seconds. Of course, I’m sure I did look completely hopeless, the class was very male dominated and falling did happen, naturally. But honestly, I had the best time,¬†and I didn’t even fall half as much as I’d actually expected to.

Would I recommend learn to snowboard? Absolutely. Do I still think this is a good pursuit for me? Absolutely. In fact, I was so pumped and enjoyed it so much that I’ve already booked my next lesson.

I want to end this post by saying a huge thank you to the staff at Snozone Castleford for being so friendly, kind and generally excellent, and for helping me to remember what it feels like to have fun again.

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