Claude and Dr. Kim Walker know what it feels like to look for new ways to stick to an active lifestyle. The two began a healthier lifestyle in 2017 and lost a combined 140 lbs, but as health professionals they knew they needed an active lifestyle that was sustainable, and that’s where the outdoors came in. Outdoor recreation offered fun, variety, and an important connection to our world, but the community was lacking for people of color. So the two created Abundant Life Adventure Club, which offers a safe and inclusive community for people of color looking to live an active lifestyle while embracing all that outdoors has to offer. We sat down with Claude and Dr. Kim to learn more about the Abundant Life Adventure Club, the benefits of the outdoors, and more.
Getting active outdoors and adding adventure to our lifestyle does good things for our health and wellness. We all deserve access to that. However, many Black people find it challenging to try outdoor activities. We know these challenges first-hand, so we created Abundant Life Adventure Club to help Black people live an active lifestyle through positive exposure to outdoor recreation with ease. We are on a mission to move wellness to outdoor spaces in authentic ways that provide exposure, access and support.
We provide our members with curated adventures led by certified guides for a variety of weekly outdoor experiences. We hike, bike, kayak, and more, primarily in Tennessee. Our members say that we’re a dope crew to be adventurous with that would make anyone’s active lifestyle better.
We haven’t always been “outdoor people.” Our exposure to outdoor recreation was once limited to only traditional sports in urban parks. That changed in 2017 when we were looking for new ways to stick with an active lifestyle. As health professionals, we knew in order to make our active lifestyles sustainable we needed to get active outside of the gym, find our tribe, and add some fun variety. Outdoor recreation was our solution and it transformed our lives. As a result of our lifestyle changes, we lost a combined 140 lbs.
We decided that we were not going to let inexperience stop us from trying new things any longer. Our first hike was a guided group hike offered by nearby state parks. We were quickly hooked. We hiked to connect deeper with each other and our teenage son. We hiked to cope with stressful times, demanding jobs, and personal losses. And of, course to help strengthen our bodies.
After spending some time at various parks, we noticed a lack of diversity amongst park visitors. We saw the need to create a diverse community that connected people of color to the outdoors in meaningful ways. In 2018, we started inviting friends out for hikes and different outdoor adventures. Because we knew the challenges of trying new outdoor activities, we understood how to introduce other Black people to the outdoors in a way that would make them feel comfortable.
We had no idea that this would grow into a company that has led over 350 Black people on outdoor experiences in Tennessee and inspired thousands of others. We’re excited about our growing community and all the places we will go. We want outdoor adventure to be a new normal for our culture. We are now working for a cause that is so much bigger than ourselves.
Our mission is to help Black people live healthy and active lifestyles through participating in positive outdoor experiences. We love teaching others the therapeutic benefits of nature and helping members gain new perspectives. It makes our hearts smile when we help our members accomplish activities, they never thought would be possible.
Our members tell us that these experiences change their lives. It helps them disconnect from life’s demands in order to recharge. We’ve been able to help people find a community that they instantly connect with. We can unplug, have fun, and just be our authentic selves. We create a safe space to talk about our challenges, experiences, and unique perspectives that allow us to connect on a deeper level. We get to celebrate, inspire, and support one another. It’s refreshing to really feel seen, heard, and understood.
We also incorporate mindfulness and meditation in many of our adventures to create a complete mind, body, and spirit experience. We stop for meditation in the most scenic part of the adventure we call “inspiration point.” We use mindfulness to allow ourselves to unplug and feel fully present while immersed in nature’s beauty. We want to let go of any stresses that might have been on our mind before the experience started. We want to leave each experience transformed, challenged, and restored.
One of our most memorable moments was last year we took our club on a waterfall hike to Burgess Falls. One of our members in her mid-40’s that was born and raised in Nashville had such an amazing and transformative experience. She said she lived in Nashville her whole life and didn’t know there were any waterfalls in Tennessee. We encouraged her to take in every
moment of this first-time experience. This was a Time to Fly moment.
We believe Time to Fly means freedom. It means you’re free to see opportunities and take them. It means you’re able to soar over adversity and barriers so that nothing is holding you back.