Collage of winter activity images with the words Move Forward Challenge overlaid

It’s on! Join the Move Forward Challenge

A new year is the best time for fresh air and a fresh start. To bring in 2021, we’re excited to introduce the Move Forward Challenge – a chance to get out there and take control of our personal well-being.

From January 1–15, we’re challenging you to complete a bunch of outdoor-focussed activities for a chance to win big. Share each activity on Instagram with the #MoveForwardChallenge hashtag – we can’t wait to see what you get up to!

The more activities you do and share, the more chances you’ll have to win a $500 MEC gift card to help fuel outdoor activities for the year ahead. Check out the info at the bottom of this page for all the details.

Move Forward Challenge card

Bingo style card listing different activities to do as part of the MEC Move Forward Challenge

Check out these tips to get you inspired, outdoors and moving:

Do a sunrise or sunset activity

MEC Ambassador Yuki Tsubota showed us how it’s done. She set out for a ski tour in her local Whistler backcountry. “I live for days in the mountains that start at dawn, end at dusk and include a couple of ear to ear grins,” says Yuki. “I love that feeling you get on your ski out back to the car that you know you’ve made the most of your day and now it’s time for a warm hearty meal.”

Ski Yuki Tsubota on skis popping off a cliff

Skier: Yuki Tsubota. Photo: Sebastian Berthiaume @stillsbyseb

She brought a few keys things with her to stay safe and have fun:

Do a polar dip

Bruce Kirkby, one of our long-time MEC Ambassadors, does cold-water therapy every day. “Since herniating a disc three years ago, cold water immersion has become part of my daily routine,” he says. “At first it simply helped tame the neural pain. But in the years since, it’s become a staple to aid recovery, helping move blood through tissue while dampening inflammation. Most days I sit for three minutes in a cold-water tub in my basement, but when I’m out paddling, it’s hard to resist the real thing! As odd as it sounds, it truly has become a source of joy for me.”

Set of four images showing Bruce Kirkby doing a polar dip from a paddleboard with a snowy mountain view in the background

Bruce Kirkby getting in a polar dip close to home.

Some hot tips to make this the best experience:

  • Bring an insulated mug to have a hot bevy post dip
  • Pack along a towel (or two) to dry off quickly
  • Get cozy in fleece pre- and post-swim
  • Just starting out or not near a safe spot to dip? Try a cold bath or shower instead. Canadian Red Cross has some helpful safety tips to check out before you dip.

Share a photo of your favourite outdoor space

There’s something beautiful about having a place in nature that you go back to over and over again, or a place where you’ve made memories to last a lifetime.

Since 1988, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has been one of MEC’s key community partners. We work with CPAWS to help increase protection of natural spaces where we all play and help develop parklands across the country. Some of their favourite places include Gros Morne National Park, Yoho National Park, Nahanni National Park Reserve and Wood Buffalo National Park.

But you don’t need to go far to find nature; for example, Rouge National Urban Park is surrounded on all sides by the GTA. “It’s the largest urban protected area in North America, and a tranquil reminder that spectacular nature can live at our city-condo doorstep,” the crew at CPAWS told us. “The quiet Rouge River can make you forget that seven million people live less than an hour away by car.”

Frosty river and forest view, seen from above

Rouge River at Vista Trail. Photo credit: Thanujan24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get a new winter hobby

Embracing Canadian winters isn’t all that bad when you have a fun snowy activity to keep you going. Need a few ideas on how you can get out in the cold? Start with these:

Take a stroll in your local park

Take in the fresh air and head out for a walk in your local park or green space. If it’s icy, wear a pair of traction devices or hiking boots to help with grip.

Close up of person wearing trail runners and traction devices on a snowy trail

Set an outdoor goal and make it come true

When it comes to setting goals, MEC Ambassador and mountain biker Anita Naidu has solid advice. “The more your goals are attached to your personal beliefs, the easier it is to stick with them when things get tough – which they inevitably do!” she told us. “Whether it’s getting healthier, sharpening skills so you can access more adventures, or making the outdoors a more inclusive playground, figuring out why you want what you want is essential to turning visions into reality.”

If your goal involves increasing distance, speed or time, find a way to keep track of numbers. Learn how to choose a fitness tracker or fitness watch to note your progress.

Anita Naidu mountain biking

As a professional mountain biker and coach, Anita Naidu knows the value of setting goals.

Get outside with your household or bubble

Sharing an outdoor experience with someone you care for – and someone who’s in your household or bubble – is magical (and of course, make sure to follow all local health guidelines). Take a moment to appreciate the fresh air with your partner, kids, roommate, family member, bubble buddy or even your dog… we’re getting through this together.

“There are less distractions when we all get outside as a family,” MEC staffer Brock shared (that’s his crew below). “We all put our phones away and live more in the moment. We’re never more connected than when we go on our small adventures. Plus my son sleeps waaaaay better after a big day in the woods.”

Smiling child wearing winter gear and pulling a sled with an adult watching nearby

Need some ideas to get the kids outside? Check out how to enjoy winter activities with kids or our ultimate guide to keeping your kids warm this winter.

Keep our outdoor spaces clean

Show your favourite places to play some love. We’re challenging you to pick up at least 5 pieces of garbage in your local area. No matter how you get outside – hiking, biking, snowshoeing, camping, you name it – it’s important to look after wild spaces, which is why MEC partners with Leave No Trace Canada. To learn more about responsible outdoor recreation, check out these 7 Leave No Trace principles.

How to enter the Move Forward Challenge

  1. Choose one of the activities listed on the Move Forward Challenge card (shown at the top of this post)
  2. Take a photo or video of you doing the activity
  3. Share it on Instagram with the hashtag #MoveForwardChallenge. Don’t forget to tag us @mec.
  4. Keep moving forward! Choose another activity from the Move Forward Challenge card. Every activity you complete and share is another contest entry.

What you could win: $500 MEC gift card

Dates: The challenge starts on January 1, 2021 at 9:00am PST and ends on January 15, 2021 at 11:59pm PST.

Giveaway rules

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew of adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who love the outdoors.