The Serious Leisure Podcast

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Serious Leisure

How do we create space and identities for ourselves outside work, and with so many pressures should we even try?  In this blog post, we highlight the Serious Leisure Podcast, founded by a UWE Bristol academic, which showcases the importance of a work-life balance.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent months have caused many of us to revaluate our lives and search for more joy in the form of hobbies. The importance of a work – life balance has become more prevalent as the lines between work and home have blurred more than ever before.

After suffering from a sudden illness, Associate Director of Academic Practice Petia Petrova decided she needed to work harder on achieving a better work – life balance and set about finding herself a new hobby. This led her to taking an improv class. Just as she was getting into her new leisure pursuit COVID hit and we were all confined to our homes. This caused Petia to reflect about how many people were people experiencing traumatic health events, suffering from Covid, or losing loved ones and how finding joy was now more important than ever. Petia reached out to a few colleagues to see what could be done to highlight the importance of leisure to our mental and physical health and the Serious Leisure Podcast was born.

I was just very lucky. Professor Steve West connected me with Kat, and a former colleague suggested I reach out to Sam. I have not met Kat before, and I have not seen Sam for over a decade (we started our academic careers together in the early 00s). The moment the 3 of us met, and started talking, we just clicked. This has been such a project of love for the three of us since.

Petia Petrova

Petia co-hosts the podcast with Kat Branch from UWE Bristol’s Centre for Music and Sam Elkington from Teesside University.

“If you‘ve ever thought you need to find a hobby but not sure how to make time, or if you‘ve not had a chance to unpack why your leisure is so important, this is for you.”

The Series Leisure Team.

The podcast has become a space for sharing stories about balancing working lives with a serious commitment to leisure. The guests on the podcast talk about their passions and hobbies and how their lives have been transformed as a result.

“As a both a musician and Head of Centre for Music understanding how leisure impacts us and what it takes to make time for what for what we enjoy is essential both personally and professionally”

Kat Branch

Although light-hearted in nature, the podcast is a scholarly space and draws on the insights and evidence base from the vast literature on the topic of serious leisure. This is where co-host Sam’s expertise shines, having co-authored a book on the topic of serious leisure.

“The Serious Leisure concept and associated framework offers an accessible way of looking at leisure activities and how people experience them everyday. As a lens for conversation, it provides an alternative language that really gets at the heart of why people end up taking certain leisure (or non-work) activities seriously.”

Sam Elkington

Previous episodes have included discussing the joys of gardening and outside space; the euphoria and relaxation of spending time DJing; the wonder and magic of the art of puppeteering; and the mysterious world of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, where lifelong friendships are made whilst co-creating epic escapades together. As well as creative pursuits, the podcast has also covered the joys of sporting hobbies like netball, ultra running and trying something new like a “Couch to 5k”.

The podcast has also explored when a hobby becomes a job and the idea that you can combine work and leisure interests into a single meaningful approach to life. The podcast has discussed how to bring the joy from your hobby into your work life, such as the academic who explains the transition of her quilting activities from a deeply personal way of processing her PhD to boldly integrating visual methods into her academic life.

Each episode is different but the theme of how beneficial a leisure pursuit can be is strong throughout. The podcast does not shy away from discussing how difficult it is to find time for leisure, but strongly emphasises how rich the benefits can be when we do.

You can find all the previous episodes on SoundCloud.

If you have a hobby you have recently discovered or if you have a story about your serious leisure, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team:

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