Helping Bedfordians put their best foot forward and take control of their lives

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Tom Barwood of Best Foot Forward
Tom Barwood of Best Foot Forward

A new business in Bedford is promising to help people put their ‘Best Foot Forward’ and remind them what is important in their personal and professional lives, by offering walk coaching in the countryside in and around Bedford.

Tom Barwood, a Bedford coach, teacher, explorer & adventurer, has turned his own experiences of working in education, running his own businesses, travelling the world, and navigating life to help others.

As a keen walker, Tom said he had the idea for a walk coaching service for quite some time but it really got moving during lockdown when he went for socially distance walks with various friends to gently test out the idea.

To his knowledge, Best Foot Forward is the only walk coaching service in the area.

“With so many of us having life plans put on hold, it was clear that people, myself included, were losing direction,” said Tom who holds a Diploma of Coaching and is a licensed practitioner of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

“So, by going out for a walk and talking myself through what was important to me, in the great outdoors, I was able to reconnect with the things that matter in my personal and professional life.”

Tom uses his own learned experiences and qualifications to take people on short walks, lasting about an hour.

“Walk coaching allows for side-by-side communication, which will help generate good ideas and potential solutions,” he said.

“For some people, this is much more productive than sitting in a room talking face to face as you might with a traditional coaching session.”

Tom Barwood hiking in New Zealand in the early 1990s

Increase in self-esteem

Surveys have also found that 71% of respondents felt happier and less tense after a walk coaching session, while 90% felt their self-esteem increased after a country walk.

Tom says this is because being outside and using physical energy helps people to “access parts of the brain that may be currently ‘switched off’”.

This then allows them to relax, breathe, and produce endorphins, putting them into a more positive and constructive mind state.

Throughout their walk Tom asks a series of questions, helping people to determine what may be standing in their way to achieving their personal or professional aspirations.

People who have already been out for a local walk with Tom have found it has really helped get them back on track, or find new direction in their lives.

Anna from Bedford said: “Tom listens without judgement and uses his extensive training to coach and direct you towards finding your own solutions, or just allows you time to talk through what is on your mind, offering clarification and validation of your thoughts.”

Tom says if needed, he can also take people further afield too.

One client who recently came back from a walk coaching ‘expedition’ in Wales said: “Being in the mountains I think really helps you to focus on addressing issues; removed from the constant interruptions from mobile devices, surrounded by the grandeur of the outdoors and being forced to focus on the here and now is a great way to get you to really explore your concerns.”

Tom Barwood on a recent Best Foot Forward expedition in Wales

You can follow Best Foot Forward on Instagram at @bestfoot_forwarduk or find out more about at bestfootfwd.co.uk.

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