When I booked my kitesurfing course back in 2014, I never expected that this would have such a big impact on my life. I thought: “Nice, let’s try a new kind of sport.” As the time went by I found out that kitesurfing is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.
What that real kitesurf lifestyle exactly is? That’s probably different for everyone, one person experiences it more than the other, but we all agree that it’s the most addictive sport ever.
This is my personal story about how kitesurfing has inspired me, how I started looking at life differently and how it has changed me as a person.
Kitesurfing is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle
To better understand when a sport is seen as a lifestyle sport, we consult the book ‘Understanding Lifestyle Sport’ written by Belinda Wheaton (Professor in Sports and Leisure Studies). Wheaton has written down 9 characteristics from which I highlight the 5 most important ones.
Characteristics of lifestyle sports:
- Including commitment in time and money, and a style of life and forms of collective expression, attitudes and social identity;
- Promoting a participatory ideology of fun, hedonism, involvement and living for the moment;
- Mainly practised by male, Western, w hite and middle-class participants;
- Known as non-aggressive;
- Consumed in new or appropriated outdoor ‘liminal’ zones, often non-urban environments like mountains or the sea.
Kitesurfing meets all these characteristics / criteria.
From the ultimate planner to an empty agenda
In an interview with Sport.nl (2016) I already said that kitesurfing made me a much more relaxed person. I was always quite a control freak, especially when it came to my agenda. I was someone who planned everything. If I had not scheduled anything for the Saturday evening on Thursday, then I became slightly nervous. I didn’t want to end up alone on the couch on a Saturday evening.
Due to kitesurfing this has changed completely, I don’t plan anything upfront anymore (except kitesurfing holidays). Everything goes last minute cause imagine that there’s wind. I let it come as it comes…
New friends and broken friendships
The (new) life as a kitesurf-addict has caused for many new friends but also a number of broken friendships. The main reason: it is a lifestyle that is hard to understand for outsiders. Making appointments has become more difficult, especially during the weekends. Because yes, if the wind is blowing somewhere… Imagine if I sit on a birthday on a Saturday afternoon while the trees are raging, then I am really not a nice companion.
I know … it may not be very social, but I can’t help it. The need to go on the water is so big, it’s an addiction. And it’s not surprising that someone who is not addicted to kiting can’t understand that kitesurfers can talk about their passion for hours.
It is a feeling you need to experience in order to understand it.
Taking a day off when the wind blows
Speaking about ‘not understanding’… My colleagues think I’m crazy when I take a day off because the wind is blowing (and it’s raining). The kind of weather where they prefer to stay at home or at the office with. Is it 30 degrees and there’s no wind? Then it’s quiet in the office. My colleagues took a day off to enjoy the warm and sunny weather while I keep on working.
Different view on the Netherlands ánd nature
In 2011 I lived abroad for 7 months and when I came back in the Netherlands I stuggled a lot with myself. I didn’t had much with the Netherlands, I couldn’t see the beauty of it. Bad weather, plain landsape, no palm trees…
Since I started kitesurfing, my view on the Netherlands and nature in general has changed completely. What a beautiful country we have! Over 500 kilometers of coastline, the North Sea, the dunes, a lot of streched nature such as the Veluwe and sunsets that are truly magical!
Holidays to kitesurf destinations
I go on holiday to destinations where there’s a lot of wind. Twice in a year to El Gouna? Sure! I often get the question if I don’t want to see more of the world. My reaction: “If I can kitesuf there… well, yes!”
City trips are a thing of the past, a waste of my days off to spend 5 days in a city. I prefer to spend my days off on kitesurfing holidays (and winter sports).
I don’t regret anything. Kitesurfing has brought me so many beautiful things. It is a lifestyle where you are connected to the elements of mother nature, you care about the environment, you go to special destinations, you meet new people, overcome your fears and enjoy the small things in life.
What impact did kitesurfing have on your life or personality?