My iCandy Style with an Olympic Rower…
Today we had the pleasure of talking with Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Alex Gregory, who uses the iCandy Peach with his family of three. Alex is using the Indigo colourway on a satin frame, the colourway exclusive to John Lewis retailers. Heritage is an important part of life for Alex, his sporting achievements are now ingrained within Great British sporting success. The colourway of Satin and indigo represents the brand’s very own ethos of Heritage, Alex is the perfect iCandy dad to demonstrate this pillar of our philosophy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a proud father of three young children, Jasper (8), Daisy (4), and Jesse (2) all of which keep me and my partner Emily extremely busy! I’m now a published author, and have been lucky enough to have been a crew member on a pioneering Arctic rowing expedition where we rowed further North than anyone ever before and had the most incredible experience and adventure at sea! In 2016 I retired from a career in sport having won two Olympic gold medals (London 2012, Rio 2016) and five World Championship titles. It was a privilege to be involved in British sport during a era of such success.
How has having a family effected your life as an athlete?
I’ll be honest, I was concerned about how having a family would affect my sporting performances. The reality was that having a family only really helped my performances because I was suddenly given perspective. I’m not saying it was easy, it was far from easy at times, but I was able to split my life in two which helped my mental state enormously. Once training was done I switched to family time and in some ways my ‘job’ was forgotten. This gave me balance, and although I was probably getting less physical rest and recovery, the mental break from the stresses and strains of selection and performance was significant! I managed to win every world championship and Olympics except for one between 2009 and 2016 so we must have been getting something right!
What challenges have you faced as a father and what advice would you give for new parents trying to juggle a busy working life with a family?
There are so many challenges you face as a parent but it’s certainly how you deal with these challenges that is really important. I do struggle with parenting at times but that’s what makes it such an exciting and difficult challenge!
Guilt is a big part of parenting that weighs on my mind. While I was training and competing I never had a weekend. The reigime was to train 7 days a week, so when my kids would ask why we couldn’t go away or go on holiday the answer was always because of rowing. This was one of the reasons I made the decision to retire from sport when I did. Now I’m home much more, the guilt has transferred in different ways. I work from home now in non-conventual hours so I’m trying to discover the balance between giving my children time in the week and getting the jobs done, a constant battle all parents face no doubt!
What I have discovered from the experiences I have had in my life is that more than anything our children want our time. When I was walking the tightrope between life and death during a storm in the Arctic ocean, huddled inside our tiny rowing boat I realised my kids didn’t care about the records or me being a brave explorer. All they wanted was for me to be back at home with them, going for a walk, climbing a tree, being with them. It’s my belief, (and why I wrote my book) that our most treasured memories in life are those times we spent with loved ones doing the things we love to do. So make time, even 15 minutes before bedtime, go outside, look at the stars, talk about what you see. Or wake up that little bit earlier once a month and go and watch the sun rise together. Our kids remember these times, happy memories will be made and any guilt may be reduced!
Tell us about your new book ‘Dadventures?’
Dadventures is a book for mums, dads, aunts, uncles, big brothers and sisters, grandparents, really anyone who wants to break away from the routine and make some happy memories together. The idea came from my most treasured memories of childhood being those I spent outdoors with the people I love. Through my sporting life and time in the Arctic the value of time with our youngsters became so apparent that I wanted to write about how we make the most of our time together.
The book is divided into chapters based on time, from After school adventures right up to Overnight expeditions with numerous ideas within each chapter for the reader to try. For me the most important thing here is that people don’t have to complete these activities, or do them perfectly, often we fail to finish them or they go wrong. That’s abosolutely fine, the important thing is that they have spent time outdoors together, and valuable, happy memories will have been made!
Is it important for you to take your family on mini adventures and explore the great outdoors and why?
I do believe in the outdoors being an important place for our young people, as well as for adults. I’m a supporter of technology, I think it’s important for our children to be able to use and make use of technological developments as they grow into adults, our son now even gets set homework to be done on an i-Pad on occasion. But I also believe this use and exposure needs to be balanced with the activities we ‘used’ to do as youngsters. My take is that if I spend 30 minutes outside with my children then it’s OK if they want to them look at a screen for a while. So often I hear about how kids nowadays don’t climb trees and they don’t know where their food comes from, I don’t think it takes much effort or any cost to re-address this balance and allow our children to develop the skills, knowledge and interest that is quickly being lost.
One of the things my dad and grandad taught me was to notice things. They were forever pointing things out in the natural world whether they knew the name of what they were pointing at or not! It’s something I talk about in Dadventures and something I try to do with my children now. If we encourage children to notice the plant in the pavement or the ant on the wall, then they will begin to care. When they care they will grow up wanting to look after the environment they find themselves in because they are aware of their surroundings.
How is having a pushchair that is capable across different terrains important for you and your family’ lifestyle?
We couldn’t survive without a pushchair that goes across all terrains! We walk our dogs daily into the countryside, over fields, through woods and along pavements. We need a pushchair that can cope with all of these terrains otherwise we wouldn’t be able to live the way we want! As you’ve heard, getting out with all of our kids is so important to us, being able to do this easily is essential and allows us to do it even more!
What do you love about the new Peach?
I love the extreme manoeuvrability of the new peach. It is exceptionally light and easy to manoeuvre down the street or along a country footpath, and having a strong pushchair is also extremely important to us to take everything we require for extended periods outdoors. The peach ticks so many boxes, it is our ideal pushchair!