#ALB 58 – The PE teacher who climbed a mountain (or six...)
Who is Ben Knight?....
Ben Knight is the founder of High 5 Sports and Activity Camps. There's a saying: all who wander are not lost. This would probably be a good way to describe Ben's life so far. Wanderlust means a strong desire to travel. And this is certainly something that Ben can relate to. The planning, challenges, new experiences, that feeling of stepping out of the comfort zone is and has always been something which both excites and scares him in equal measure. Be it through travel, extreme sports or more recently, endurance sports challenges.
Ben is one of our One percenters and has several businesses, including sports camps, bubble football and tennis coaching. He's also a qualified Bodyboarding instructor, Ultimate Frisbee leader, Beach Lifeguard and is mountain medicine trained. He has run two half-marathons and a full one too, in aid of charity, an alternative triathlon, doing stand-up paddleboard, bike and run. Ben has won several tennis double tournaments and represented his county, Devon as a Junior and a Veteran. He's been bodyboarding and snowboarding all over the planet for the last 25 years. And most recently climbed the six highest peaks in six different countries, raising money for a local charity.
One Life, Live it…..
Ben has always had a real lust for life. A passion to sort of see and do many things, there's so much he wants to see and visit and places he wants to go.
There are also many things that Ben wants to accomplish. And he sometimes feels there's not enough time to a certain extent. And every year that ticks by and every time he has to waste time on things that he doesn’t want to be doing, he thinks to himself there is so much other stuff that he wants to be doing. So, Ben makes changes in his work to try to help to facilitate that and tick off as many things on his bucket list as possible.
Ben has launched Ultimate Frisbee in his holiday camps which is proving to be a big hit. It is a game aimed at older kids as you need to be slightly more competent in throwing the frisbee. Ben tells us the secrets and tactics to throwing the ultimate frisbee, he says getting the frisbee to go where you want it to go, get it to go straight. If you don't hold the disc flat, it curves, good players use that angle to make it curve around people, to teammates. But if you can't get it flat and get it to go straight then that tends to be where people come unstuck.
Ben the traveller
Travel is a BIG thing for Ben, which stemmed from his childhood, his father was a PE teacher and every year would organise the school skiing trip, as soon as Ben could pretty much walk he was on a ski slope two to three months of the year. Ben would then spend the week skiing in the Alps. Ben grew up to be a confident skier, and by his own admission took it for granted that not everybody skied for three months of the year, on the dry slope and then went somewhere snowy.
It was only when Ben got older and met people who couldn't ski that he suddenly realised that actually his dad's job and the free places he got on the ski trip was really a kind of lucky thing to be able to do. Ben fell in love with the mountains from those experiences.
The travel probably was linked to his love of the beach and the sea. And the fact that the best waves, in this country, are in the coldest conditions. The colder and stormier it is, the better the surf is, but he think’s of the West Sea. Ben also has a love for surfing and has surfed the waves in Belize.
Ben has developed a tolerance of the cold, more than a love, and tells us that some of the products out now are amazing for example, dry rayon towels, they're really thick, they're not cheap, but it makes a huge difference getting changed, because a lot of it's wind chill. Given the choice even with his towel, cold or Belize, Ben say’s it would be Belize, any day.
What's Ben’s main business normally about?
Ben is slowly moving away from tennis coaching, which has always been his profession. Ben runs multi-sport holiday camps for children, called High 5 Sports Camps. And they run out of three sites now, in Devon. Ben would like to see that grow and really develop. It’s the key thing he spends a lot of his time on. Ben also acquired, Bubble Football, which if anybody doesn't know what Bubble Football is, they're giant inflatable balls that you get inside, your legs poke out the bottom, you have a harness and some hand straps. Then you run into other people and bash each other with a high chance of landing upside down! A real laugh out loud game.
Ben has moved away from being the face of the business or being the business certainly with the tennis coaching side of things, he’s done it for twenty years, so it has been a big part of his life. But as the business grew, it become all about him and his business partner.They were the faces and the ones that everybody wanted, but there are so many hours in one day, so they decided to bring on new people but those people wouldn't be as passionate or they wouldn't be as trained. There's quite a few hoops to jump through to be a qualified tennis coach, so, finding staff, training staff, keeping staff, was a challenge as well.
When did it all change?
For Ben, it all changed when he had children. When Ben’s first child was born, his hours on the tennis programme were 7:15 to 8:45, four mornings a week, before school and some adult stuff during the day, admin in the afternoon and then coach 4:00 'til 7:00pm after school, coach all Saturday morning 'til 2:00 in the afternoon. And he suddenly realised that he had a son that didn't really know him ,and his wife was single person parenting and that wasn't sustainable long term.
Ben’s mind set started to change and he started to think that perhaps, he needed to find a different way. Ben feels it doesn't matter how much money you've got, your time is more valuable to kids than any amount of money or any five-star holiday. “I think for me, it took me a little while to suddenly realise that my presence was more important. And as I started to realise that, that was the big thing for me.”
So what does an Ambitious Lifestyle Business look like to Ben?
For Ben, it's the freedom of time and that doesn't mean all his time because everybody has to do something otherwise you would be retired. It's the freedom of time to be able to make choices about when he works and that doesn't mean that he doesn’t ever want to work. Ben is happy to be put into situations where, at certain times of the year, he has to work. This includes working long hours at some points, but actually, for periods of the year, he is able to step back and say “okay I'm going to do the school run every day” or ”I'm going to spend the weekends with my family” or “We're going to book those holidays and we're going to spend some time at the beach or we can spend some time in the mountains”.
“I'm happy to work hard as long as I can play hard”.
Time to climb a mountain…
Ben has recently completed six peaks in six different countries over a 2-month period. Ben wanted to do something BIG for his 40thand has spent many evenings, looking up at Mont Blanc and talking about the fact that it's a pretty impressive mountain, he has talked many times about climbing it. Initially it was only going to be the one mountain, that was until Ben met Ruth from a charity called Families for Children and it all changed!! To find out what Ben did click play……..
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