When the Esquire network created a trailer for my television show Boundless, they began by asking viewers how many minutes they spent on a treadmill or how many calories they burnt in spin class. Then they introduced Turbo and I – “two guys who decided to cancel their gym membership.” It was basically a plug for the idea of Nature’s Gym. That was back in 2012 and things haven’t changed much since then. I loved training outside (regardless of the weather) and I still do. Once you get your clothing choices right there is no such thing as bad weather, as they say!
Since moving to my farm in Sheenboro to develop the Adventure Science training centre I’ve been able to share the Nature’s Gym ideology with people on a one-on-one basis, which has been very rewarding. Here are a few of the fun workouts I do on the farm to stay fit.
- Running: I’ve never been able to commit to my treadmill runs the same way I can commit to a run outside but for many, half the battle is convincing yourself to get changed and step out the front door. If you can do that, I can guarantee you that you’re not likely to go back inside, or to a treadmill! I like to mix my runs and hikes between short and intense, or long and slow. This is often dictated by the type of projects or adventures I’m training for but the one constant in my training is that I always add trail running to the mix.
- Hiking: Three intense seasons of Boundless drained the battery a bit and I’ve found that hiking has helped to recharge it, and get me over some injuries. In addition to the pleasure I get from hiking the trails on the farm, hiking gives me the opportunity to see more. Our bodies move differently when we walk instead of run, so slowing down and moving at a new speed is a good thing to do periodically. It works muscles in different ways, and enhances mobility that may not get targeted through running. Finally, I usually hike with a pack which helps prepare me for self-supported Adventure Science expeditions. Training with a pack also helps put extra bounce in my step when I’m racing without one.
- Specific: The beauty of living on the farm is that there is no shortage of logs, tires, buckets and other heavy objects, all which make for great workouts. I’ve fallen in love with old tractor tires and walking kilometers with large logs on my shoulder. Some of these are very specific in form but all deliver functional strength benefits you just can’t get doing gym-based movements that are designed for just sculpting muscles, such as concentrated bicep curls, or tricep push-downs.
- Non-Specific: In addition to the specific work on the farm, there is a lot of day-to-day work that helps build strength. I’ve been kept busy removing fallen trees and pruning living ones. I’ve built trails, harvested maple sap, battled beaver dams, am constructing a cabin, and more. Getting outside to tackle life on the farm is another way to maintain strength in a more functional way.
What to do if you don’t have a farm? Well, we all face the challenges to get outside and stay active in our daily lives so the biggest hurdle we face every day is simply: “do you or don’t you?” Do you commit to being active and getting outside to move, or do you not. Once you make that decision, everything else becomes so much easier.