Fitmark Ambassador Josh Courage takes you on an excursion as why its good to take training to the great outdoors
Over the years, I’ve become known as someone who really, really loves getting outside as often possible. In fact, “Bear-man” has become a bit of a common nickname for me around the gym. While I’ve had moments where I just figured I was just overly “outdoorsy”, I’ve actually settled into the perspective that I, and people in general, need to be outside.
Let’s quickly move past the idea of just sitting outside. It’s been proven time and again that our bodies respond positively to being outside. The benefits of absorbing Vitamin D, disconnecting from overstimulating computers, televisions, and all the new forms of mobile technology, and reconnecting with nature in a sedentary way de-stress the body on all levels. We need to get outside. An article in National Geographic recently talked about a movement in Japan where they actually have programs where you pay to simply go out in nature and hang out. Obviously there’s a bit more to it, like they hook you up and measure stress levels and so on; the idea is to actively promote an incredibly stressed out culture deal with stress through outdoor time. Awesome!
We are a generation of technological and information-needy beings. Even in my lifetime (I’m 30 by the way) technology has advanced at an frightening rate. I had my first crappy cell phone my senior year of college. I couldn’t text. I had that “snakes” game. Now, I carry a mini computer in my hand, and am writing this post from a tablet and bluetooth keyboard in a coffee shop. It’s insane! I could write an entire post about the pros and cons of our technology-dependent lifestyles, but let’s just go ahead and agree our lives are this way. You see, while we have been given the gift of intelligence (enough to create all the crazy, helpful inventions we’ve come up with over the years) we are still animals from a physiological standpoint. We need to run, climb, throw, connect with dirt, grass, rock and wood. We are all wired together with other animals and natural organisms in some way, shape, or form. This is tough to argue; it’s been proven for years and years. And if you doubt this connection, give something a try: just head out to the woods someday. Park, keep your phone in the car, and walk into the wilderness for a couple minutes. Once there, just stand for a moment looking around. When you disconnect from all the things that have progressed us humans to where we are today, it actually feels good; maybe even “right”.
Let’s take this another step seeing how most of the readers here have some interest in health and fitness. What better way to connect with those natural roots and get your workout by doing them both outside? When you think about it, everything you have in your gym you have outside. Pull ups bars, heavy weights, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and plyo boxes are all found in tree branches, rocks, stumps, vines, hills, cliffs, and on and on. This is nature’s gym; nature’s playground. And again, if you are into CrossFit and your goals are to get “real life” strong, what’s better than training with real life objects. Great, you can do a muscle up on rings, or rep out box jumps on a 24″ plyo box and clean a 185 pound barbell. But what about getting up on that high tree branch, climbing over that rock face, jumping over a fallen tree and moving that heavy boulder? All the same movements you would find in the gym, but without “imagining” how doing them would actually help you in real life! And you have the wonderfully uneven surfaces and ever-changing terrains; from grass to dirt, to rock, sand, leaves, creeks, hills and more, you muscles, joints and mind will always be at ready and working. Add the fresh air, the sunlight, the sounds of nature, and the vast openness that is in nature, and you might just find yourself uncontrollably smiling while working your butt off.
If you’re not sold on the workouts, at least try to get out to just connect to nature as often as you can. But if you really want to take your health and fitness to a whole new level and don’t know how, keep following along this blog and reach out to me on some ideas for workouts using exercise equipment of the wild. The weather is turning out here in beautiful California, you can expect to see a ton of outdoor workouts coming from me!