If there is one thing we should have all gotten used to during the last couple of months, it’s the environment around us.
Suddenly exercise became our only form of escape during lockdown, our only release from the same four walls during those early days of the pandemic.
Strava useage rocketed as we all proudly showed off our fastest 5k times. But where is the app for those who want to explore at a more enjoyable, slower pace? Hana Sutch has the answer.
She’s the co-founder of GoJauntly; the walking and wayfinding app that allows you to head outdoors in your own time, making sure all of your requirements are met.
Hana said: “There's actually quite a lot of barriers to walking. People often say things like 'not knowing where to go, not knowing if there's toilets on route, not knowing if there's rest stops on route, how safe it is, whether it's accessible or pram friendly?' So, what we wanted to do was to break down those barriers to walking, and just help people get out and about and enjoy nature.”
“The app was born out of frustration of not being able to find really good places to go for a walk and being chained to our desks all day and just really wanting to make the most of our weekends. That was about three years ago and it’s developed since then, whilst almost being completely self-funded too.”
But surely looking at a phone means you can’t look at nature? Not necessarily, as Hana and her team have found a solution to that too.
She explains: “There are some people that say, 'how can you connect with nature through a smartphone, doesn't that defeat the purpose?' But actually GoJauntly has been designed for you to look up and look out so you can have photo-led routes and you can also flip to map view and the idea is the photos let you imagine where you need to be next to help you orientate and then for confidence, you can flip to map view.
“There's also really interesting information that people add to their walking routes as well, and you can filter by those barriers that might have otherwise prevented you from going on those walks.”
It’s that information that has helped GoJauntly grow into the successful app it is today. The ability to add your own information, routes and pictures allows users to pass on their knowledge, learn about new areas and contribute to an ever-growing population.
“We knew we just wanted to make a really cool walking app and help you discover places," she said. "But when we were literally pounding the streets of London, we quickly realised we are building a community as well because we aren't able to tred every single square mile across the world but if we can help encourage people to get out on walks, to take pictures whilst they're out and about, they can then create their own routes and share them within the app.
“So, now we've got walks all over the world, users have created walks in Oslo, a few in Amsterdam, loads in Stockholm, Sydney and Sri Lanka; so it is a community and I think that's one of my favourite things about it now.
"It's seeing your dreams come to reality because someone in Oslo, has found our app and has realised they can maximise some of their favourite routes in town for their residents and they're sharing it. We love it, whenever we see a new community walk comes through, it lifts our spirits."
The app isn’t the only thing on offer either. There’s a podcast too called ‘Nature Bantz', which has just started its second season.
“After being out and about and going to all these amazing places, we just want to be able to talk about them and share them," Hana said. "Then as my career has developed in this industry, I've met some really inspiring and amazing people and sometimes they're stories aren't always told and I think there's an increasing impetus for people to learn about green living, sustainability, nature connection.
"It feels like we need it now more than ever so I thought 'why not try and tell some of those stories of the individuals, who are leading companies, leading revolutions and give a bit of hope to everyone, before Covid-19, in a time of climate crisis and rising mental health issues.
“There are so many benefits to walking and there has been such a focus on either attracting the already fit walkers, or it being about competition and the amount of steps you do. It's more than that, it helps reduce carbon emissions, it helps reduce air pollution, it helps with your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing, it helps you connect with nature which can then promote pro-environmental behaviours. For me it's like a wonder-drug and everybody should be doing it.”
The app and the podcast are both available to download in all the usual places or you can find out more about GoJauntly on their website: www.gojauntly.com