• Overcoming Anxiety

    Overcoming Anxiety

    I’ve probably talked about this before, but skateparks can be a great place to raise your anxiety levels. Many moons ago, I managed to bash my head, and it has given me a lot of issues in the intervening years. Migraines, nausea, mental health, I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt, so I took a chance over the weekend to put some of the demons to bed.

  • Pain Relief: A Meditation for BMXers

    Pain Relief: A Meditation for BMXers

    As BMX riders, we are liable to have a slam occasionally. The slam may sometimes come with a small dose of pain. Rather than just grabbing some painkillers, what if we tried to use the power of our mind through meditation to ease our pain and reframe how we are feeling?

  • A BMXers Present Moment Meditation

    A BMXers Present Moment Meditation

    As BMX riders being in the present moment has multiple benefits for us, and is one of the key reasons we practice mindfulness. Being in the moment helps us to be healthier and happier, both of which help contribute to a better session, which is further supported by feeling more energised if we practice staying in the moment.

  • A Calming Exhale Guided Meditation

    A Calming Exhale Guided Meditation

    Controlled breathing has been shown to have remarkable effects on your nervous system and can help you release stress. As BMX riders, we can often put ourselves into stressful situations and being able to control that stress and anxiety is a great idea, so here is a guided calming exhale meditation.

  • Is BMX Art?

    Is BMX Art?

    Many people will tell you that BMX is a sport, and if we look at the original Olympics, we can see that race BMX would be. Freestyle BMX would not be in their definition. In the original Olympics, a sport could only be judged objectively. First, across the line is the winner. Freestyle BMX has no such finish line and is judged subjectively. If we then decide BMX is not a sport, is it art, as many participants have suggested?

    What is art?

    That is a great question. It turns out there isn’t really an answer that doesn’t have philosophers throwing metaphorical punches at each other. Even the Oxford Dictionary is going to give you some scrolling. We could even argue that we will never have a definitive answer on what art is.

    Wittgenstein had a famous piece to say about this when he pointed out that art is such a broad category, and there are so many facets to it that having a unitary definition was impossible. That if we did create a definition, then we would be holding back creativity. (Wittgenstein 1953)

    To make up for this, I’m going to look through various theories on what art is and see if we can apply BMX to them. Now would be the ideal time to get a cup of coffee or tea and then sit down and realise that there is nothing that humans can’t over-complicate.

    The constraining factors

    As Wittgenstein pointed out, defining art would involve constraints and boundaries.

    Kanting along

    We’ll look quickly at an example by Kant, and then we will move on to more contemporary definitions. Kant’s work in ethics can take a while (a lifetime) to try and fully understand, but he has a relatively easy-to-understand definition of what art is.

     Kant calls the art of genius, is “a kind of representation that is purposive in itself and, though without an end, nevertheless promotes the cultivation of the mental powers for sociable communication” (Kant 2000)

    Ok, I know I just said Kant was easy to understand here, but let us unpack what he said, and you’ll probably find yourself agreeing with him. Kant considers the artist to be a genius and that art is produced thanks to their artistic creativity. He focuses both on the process and the outcome. The reason for this is that Kant included art in part of his aesthetic judgement, in which he covers judgments of the beautiful, judgments of the sublime, and teleological judgments of natural organisms and of nature itself.

    Subjective judgement

    As you can imagine, that will take a while to describe. So we’ll shortcut it and examine how Kant believed aesthetic judgement was subjective. Our judgement is then made by our sense of pleasure or displeasure at the artwork.

    … … if [someone] pronounces that something is beautiful, then he expects the very same satisfaction of others: he judges not merely for himself, but for everyone, and speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things. Hence he says that the thing is beautiful, and does not count on the agreement of others with his judgment of satisfaction because he has frequently found them to the agreeable with his own, but rather demands it from them. He rebukes them if they judge otherwise, and denies that they have taste, for he nevertheless requires that they ought to have it; and to this extent one cannot say, “Everyone has his special taste”. This would be as much as to say that there is no taste at all, i.e. no aesthetic judgment that could make a rightful claim to the assent of everyone. (Kant 1790, 5: 212–213 [2000: 98]

    The photograph above shows Brian Foster scrubbing and is shot by Rob Dolecki. What Foster is doing is impressive, but the photography by Dolecki transcends this image into art. The photo is taken by a creative genius using their powers of creativity, and I feel that would be enough for Kant.

    Significant Form Theory

    In his book Art, Clive Bell declared that all a piece of work had to do was create an aesthetic emotion in the spectator, listener or reader. The emotion must be separate from the emotions of day-to-day living.

    A genuine work of art will have a quality that Bell called “significant form.” The significant form is a relation between the parts of a work, not its subject matter. The significant theory is generally applied to visual arts.

    “The important thing about a picture, however, is not how it is painted, but whether it provokes aesthetic emotion.” (Bell, 1914)

    The above quote by Bell was written in 1914, so I’m going to take a jump and consider photography and video as part of the definition. Bell argued that art should only seek to express and arouse emotions. It should not have or seek to have a cognitive value.

    Here we have a video by George Manos and Matthieu Bonnécuelle. For me, it looks like a work of art. One of the essential parts of significant theory is that critics can intuitively recognise a work of art. It has to have a certain worth to a culture to be a work of art, and I would say this video does.

    The Idealist Theory

    R. G Collingwood helped to formulate the idealist theory of art in his book The Principles of Art. What is interesting here is that this is basically a side hustle to what Collingwood considered his real job as a philosopher of history.

    I have already said that a thing which ‘exists in a person’s head’ and nowhere else is alternatively called an imaginary thing. The actual making of the tune is therefore alternatively called the making of an imaginary tune. This is a case of creation … Hence the making a tune is an instance of imaginative creation. The same applies to the making of a poem, or a picture, or any other work of art. (134)

    Collingwood is telling us that the work of art is non-physical. The artist has an idea or an emotion; that is the artwork. The artist then gives the artwork an imaginative physical expression. We can now see a version of the artwork, but the art remains inside the artist’s head.

    What is essential to note is that the work of art has to serve no purpose. If it serves a purpose, it is a craft. The way to look at this is if I’m riding along a street and feeble a ledge just because I saw that idea in my head, it is art.

    Suppose I plan to shoot a photo of a feeble on that ledge for an advert. It is then a craft. It has a purpose: to sell whatever the advert is for. It can also be argued that this photo is designed to create a feeling in the viewer and is entertainment art.

    Entertainment art is also a craft; for some, it is seen as inferior to genuine art. Genuine art has no purpose; it is an end. BMX can be and to itself or used for a purpose. BMX can be both a craft and an art, then.


    Is BMX then art? I’m not going to give you an answer. The theories above, like most theories, can all be torn apart or become ideologies. It is up to you to decide which path you believe to be the correct one.


    • Bell, Clive, 1914. Art, London
    • Collingwood, R. G., 1938, The Principles of Art, London: Oxford University Press.
    • Kant, Immanuel, 2000, Critique of the Power of Judgment, Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (trans.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1953, Philosophical Investigations, G.E.M. Anscombe and R. Rhees (eds.), G.E.M. Anscombe (trans.), Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Clothes


    Today, I will take a flyer on this blog and talk about clothing and mental health. I ride BMX, and to support the culture; I’ll wear clothing by brands I identify with. Sometimes, I feel that this raises expectations of my abilities. I know this is in my head, and in reality, nobody cares. It still, though, brings anxiety. Today I went to a local park and looked like I was going to a funeral. I felt zero expectations and had the best session I’ve had in a while.

    Clothes and liberating mental health

    It was an epiphany. I had never thought about clothes and that I might subconsciously make myself more anxious. It is also something I might never have thought about it if I hadn’t experienced today’s session. I would have said, “You are not what you own.”

    When I looked into this idea, I saw that most people talked about clothing and body types. How different body types look better with particular designs and styles, and how picking the wrong style and looking in a mirror can be a negative choice.

    I can empathise with these dilemmas as, over the summer, I shot a few clips. I never released them into the world as I felt uncomfortable about how I looked in my clothes. Today though, I will focus on why I created anxiety thanks to brands.


    When we are involved in a hobby, we can get into brand tribalism. If you become a member of a brand tribe, you are above an average consumer and effectively become an advert for that brand by looking like a billboard for them.

    With many BMX brands offering similar products, we will pick the brand whose marketing most aligns with our aesthetic. There is nothing wrong with this. If you look at skateboarding and how brand X has an 8.5″ deck, people will swear it is better than brand Y’s, even if they have identical specs and are made in the same woodshop, and the only difference is the graphic on the bottom. It is a well worn path.

    I am probably a brand tribe member for brands that I deal with through work. I then have bikes built by their parts. Have their apparel and possibly even their stickers on my helmet. It also helps me to feel like a member of the larger BMX tribe.

    The flip on clothing

    Now, I’ve described the sort of positive reasons I dress the way I dress. Last week, though, I changed how I dressed and received a pretty positive reception. I hadn’t, though, gone BMXing, and everyone expected me to dress like the BMXer I felt I was when I went to the skatepark.

    Today I didn’t.

    Crazily, I felt more at home than I had in years. I felt more in tune with myself and thought I was riding better than I had in a while. People mentioned I was riding better, which helped my self-esteem. The big turning point was that I felt free and that no one was judging me negatively for having all the gear and no idea.

    This is weird because I have the idea; it is my day job. It was strange to realise that I was putting expectations and anxiety on myself because of how I dressed. It was also freeing to go, “Fuck this; I’ll dress how I like.” I no longer felt I needed to be a tribe member, I could be me, and you could like that or not. It doesn’t matter.

    Which is pretty freeing.

    I am still amazed that I managed to pile a load of anxiety on myself because of how I dressed.

  • Burnout Sucks

    Burnout Sucks

    Burnout, it often seems like the modern world is determined to make this a characteristic of our daily lives. Recently I’ve been giving myself a little bit of imposter syndrome. I work and teach people about mental health while at the same time letting mine dive off the side of a cliff. Sometimes we forget about self-care.

    I realised that I had let myself go when I went out mountain biking. Things I would never have given a second thought to before were suddenly out the window. I realised that I was facing a mountain, the wrong way, so to speak. I was swamped, overwhelmed, and I was emotionally a wreck. It was all too much, and even simple things were a nightmare.

    I needed to find a way to reset.

    What is burnout?

    Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion.

    Burnout does not just happen overnight; it builds up over time. It is a multiplier effect. Stress has to grow and pass through chronic stress to become burnout. With stress, we feel like we have too much to do; with burnout, we feel we have nothing left. Burnout is our body trying to protect itself after being hyperactive or stuck in a fight or flight system for a long time.

    Burnout has symptoms similar to those of stress and anxiety. Your sleep will be disrupted, and insomnia will appear; you’ll feel fatigued, and as such, you will change your appetite and caffeine use. You’ll be ill more often, and your body will spend a lot of time feeling tense. You’ll be way more irritable and feel very apathetic and numb. Sarcasm will come to the fore, and with it, a lot of self-criticism and an almost debilitating self-doubt. You’ll procrastinate and isolate yourself. Numbing may be through the use of substances or by diet; you will no longer enjoy life.

    At this point, I’d like to point out that I am just someone typing words online, and if you need help, you should seek professional help. No one will judge you for asking for help. Use what I’ve written here to make yourself realise that you are not alone, and in a minute, we’ll talk about some solutions you can try as you await an appointment.

    Speak to your doctor or counsellor. If you can’t speak to them, talk to a friend or work colleague whom you trust.

    What did I do?

    I talked to people around me and let them know what I was going through. The most dismissive person of myself, at this point, was me; which is a good sign of being burntout. I then knew I had to try calming activities; I went back to reading. I took time to go and ride my tracklocross bike, as it is a style of cycling that is not connected with work. It can be a bit of a nightmare when your hobbies are also your work.

    I started to make sure I prioritised time for myself to go through mindfulness practices. A small meditation in the morning and then used the various activities I have talked about on this blog before sessions, and slowly I started to turn the tide.

    I also spent less time answering emails, invoicing, and dealing with work. It now has an allotted time, and I work to that. The problem for me is it easy to allow a business you own to overtake everything.

    Overcoming burnout and the associated evils of stress and anxiety is not easy. A simple blog on the internet will not give you all the answers. I can show what I did and be honest and say I’ve made mistakes to let you know that life is not all plain sailing even after you prioritise your mental health.

    Let us try and defeat burnout, feel free if you want to private message about your feelings.

  • Excited to Be at the Skatepark

    Excited to Be at the Skatepark

    In a previous article, I discussed being anxious about going to the skatepark; today, I’m going to look at the opposite end of the spectrum, being too excited. Being ready to rush straight in can have some unintended consequences, and taking a moment before jumping in can save you from a bad experience.

  • The Two Wolves Inside You

    The Two Wolves Inside You

    There is a story, often attributed to Native Americans, about people having two wolves inside them. In some ways, it is now a cliche to talk about them, but I still find people who have missed the tale, and I feel it is worth a look.

  • The Power of Maybe

    The Power of Maybe

    You’ve probably heard the idea that everything happens for a reason. Pedantically we could say it does. The window broke because the ball hit it, and the ball hit the window because someone kicked it. The statement is not meant this way, though. It is a comforting statement that things will get better during bad times. We could argue that this is a trick we play on ourselves and what would be better would be to say, “Maybe.”