80 Different Activities in a Year

McKenna joined many local community groups for practice, including roller hockey, handball and water polo. McKenna, grinning after surviving a drop-in water polo practice with the DCSeahorses.

Hill yoga teacher Karen McKenna did something that no one she knows has ever done before. She spent the past year completing 80 different activities available on the Apple Watch’s Workout Icon. As part of her challenge she visited several DC area gyms, connected with community teams and took advantage of what she calls, “some of the city’s incredible free programs.”

McKenna, who had bought an Apple Watch Series 3 from a friend a few years before, decided to attempt the challenge while hanging out with friends last Memorial Day. She thought it would ‘be cool’ if someone could complete all Apple Watch activities. Her goal: complete all in a calendar year. She completed her final one this past Memorial Day.

The District offers unique free events including curling at the Wharf in the winter. Despite an old injury that put her in a walking boot, McKenna found activities that could be performed with a boot. Curling on ice was particularly challenging.

Even though most people use their Apple Watch to accomplish a variety of tasks, including making phone calls, sending text messages and reading email, Apple said many also use it to track health and fitness activities. “It’s the ultimate device for a healthy life,” Apple stated. “When you wear it you get a fitness partner that measures all the ways you move, meaningful health insights, and innovative safety features.”

On the watch’s workout icon, there is an alphabetical list of all activities. She said if you click ‘Add Workout’ you then can scroll to the initial of the activity you want to track.

McKenna organized two field days with friends to complete many of the team sports and track events. Her friend Bill (a former all-star collegiate rugby player) demonstrates proper tackle form.

Success in More Ways than One

The hoped-for outcomes of McKenna’s ambitious goal were obvious: keep active, stay in shape and create new experiences. The more subtle benefits from the challenge may have been even more rewarding. “I was so surprised at how many friends and family followed my journey,” she said. “My sweet aunt made and sent me a card from photos on my Instagram account to congratulate me. I didn’t think it impacted anyone in that way.” She credits her sister with showing her how to set up her Instagram account.

McKenna moved to DC in 2021 to work for the federal government. She said she was always into fitness but never used a tracking device like an Apple Watch. Before the challenge she was a rock climber, which she had to stop because of a foot injury.

McKenna grew up as a competitive gymnast, but hadn’t competed in years. One of the 80 listed activities included gymnastics. When she walked into an adult gymnastic class she didn’t know if she could still perform. “I was surprised. I didn’t think I could do it, but I got back up onto the balance beam. It was so cool.”

Master Bobby taught the Intro to Tai Chi class that McKenna took at Synergy and Serenity in Dupont. (one of her unexpected favorite activities).

Help From Friends

Some sports were easy to access. Others took a lot of research to find. She credits her success completing her goal to the support of friends and family who often helped her find an activity. Some even worked out with her. “They were awesome. My friend who was eight months pregnant found a water aerobics class at Waterside Gym in southwest DC so she could work out with me.”

Finding a fencing class proved hard. Then, through a Groupon she and a friend went to an intro class in Rockville. She found it ‘surprisingly difficult.”

When she searched for an ice hockey venue McKenna got creative. A friend referred her to a friend who played roller hockey (on roller blades). “Never in my life had I put on roller blades. I rented them from place at the Wharf, but I needed a stick and pads.” When she showed up to practice with a used children’s hockey stick that what not usable by an adult, the team lent her one. “They were so accommodating with me. They pulled me aside to practice drills. Everyone was excited to hear about the challenge. A couple of players started following my Instagram account afterwards.”

She loved kick boxing, tai chi and jump rope class. McKenna found jujitsu and barre classes difficult. She received a private session with a wrestling teacher. “No one else showed up so after I explained what I was doing, he taught me the fundamentals.”

McKenna got through a water polo class with the DCHorses, “I had no idea how hard it would be to catch or throw a ball with just one hand.” She went to a friend’s farm in Virginia where she tried a stand up paddle in a pond and completed a 5K run at the Arboretum, which is near her home in NE.

“For some of the team sports I organized a couple of field days at Anacostia Park for my friends. We spent nine hours playing all different sports including Rugby.”

The most unusual activity McKenna tried was Australian Rules football. “It’s on the Watch. When I mentioned it to a friend, she had a friend who had actually played the game. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a bit like Rugby but nothing like American football or soccer.”

What seemed the most fun was McKenna organizing a “beer mile run” at the Kennelworth track when no one else was on it. She explained, “We have a team of four. Each runs ¼ mile then tags a teammate who chugs a beer. Then the teammate runs ¼ mile and hands off to another team member who chugs a beer and runs ¼ mile. It got very silly and we had the time of our life.”

McKenna has come down from the high of completing her formidable goal this past year. She learned a lot and had a great time. What will she do now?  “I liked having a year-long goal. It kept me interested and stimulated. I’d like to try another long-term challenge.” If you have any suggestions, be sure to let her know.

To contact Karen: mckennka@gmail.com;  mckaren_finished_a_workout (Instagram handle)

Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 25 years. She focuses on non-traditional ways to stay healthy and get fit. Please contact her at: fitmiss44@aol.com.