Exercise is boring

 As an exercise junkie, I’ve often wondered why people don’t have the same passion.  The reality is that for many people, exercise is associated with pain and boredom.

How many times have you seen and heard the phrase “no pain no gain”? How about “Pain is weakness leaving the body”?  I saw a tag line on a friend’s e-mail that said “You can be sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow”.

Each one of these indicates torture to the non-exerciser.  If you’d rather avoid torture, here’s the best advice I can provide.

Do something that you enjoy.

That’s right, it’s that easy. Exercise doesn’t have to be limited to plodding endless miles on a treadmill (yuck!). Find something that makes you feel alive.  Something that gives you a goal to work toward and offers a sense of accomplishment. Something that you can immerse yourself in and make part of your life.

Here’s a list of the things I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve done this year that I would consider exercise:

  • Paddled a kayak through the Dells of the Fox
  • Ran multiple 5k’s outdoors
  • Went geocaching with my kids
  • Rode my mountain bike in the Iceman Cometh Challenge with my family cheering at the finish line
  • Rode 100 miles (twice) on my road bike…before lunch
  • Paddled a canoe on the Du Page River in the middle of winter
  • Summitted 14,255′ Longs Peak with my daughters
  • Spent 8 hours adventure racing through the Michigan woods
  • Ran the Warrior Dash on Father’s Day with friends and family
  • Rowed 1.3 million meters on the Concept 2 rowing machine
  • Played golf with Sara
  • Set multiple personal records in the deadlift
  • Swam whitewater rapids (on purpose) to practice swiftwater rescue
  • Completed the TRX 40/40 Challenge
  • A couple of times, for a little variety, I even ran on the treadmill. 
Sunrise over Twin Sisters Peaks
Sunrise over Twin Sisters Peaks

Aside from the actual exercise part of each of these activites, I experienced moments I’ll never forget. 

I stood 6 feet from a herd of deer while riding my mountain bike, neither of us wanting to give up the trail. I watched the sunrise from 11,000 feet above sea level. I got caught in wicked thunderstorms and sleet storms. I witnessed the absolute silence of the winter woods after a big snowfall.  I watched coyotes, eagles, and hawks when they didn’t realize anyone was watching.  I waded through waist deep water fully clothed at one time and waist deep snow at another. I listened to the laughter of children and the look of amazement as they accomplished goals they never imagined.  I felt the pride of accomplishment in reaching my own goals.     

Each one of these experiences helped me be a better person, a better father, added years to my life, put a smile on my face and the faces of others around me, and yes, each was a form of exercise. 

None of these required any special skills that anyone else couldn’t obtain.  Just a level of commitment and creativity that many aren’t willing to pursue.  I’m just an ordinary guy who doesn’t want to live an ordinary life.

Each was exercise. None of them were boring or torturous. Every time I went to the fitness center I was there with a purpose in mind.  I knew that every squat was going to help me on the mountain bike or make it easier to haul a 55 lb. backpack up a mountain. Every rep had a purpose.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Think outside the box and find what you enjoy.  And do it, often!

One thing I learned from Long’s Peak

On the summit of Long's PeakFitness has done a lot for me throughout my life.  The reason I started as a personal trainer was to help others enjoy the benefits fitness can bring.  It goes well beyond losing a few pounds.  It’s about changing lives.  It’s about giving you the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

My daughters, Rachael and Sara, and I spent five days in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park this summer.  The highlight of the trip was a successful summit of Long’s Peak.  At 14,259 feet, Long’s is the highest point between it’s location in Northern Colorado and the Arctic Circle.  As one of the most coveted summits of Colorado’s 54 peaks over 14,000 feet, it has captivated me for 30 years.  From my first visit in 1981 I knew that someday I would stand on top.  The first opportunity came in 2004 with a successful attempt in winter conditions with my father.  My daughters, after hearing my stories of the mountain, chose to make it their goal too. 

In January, we entered a contest through TRX Suspension Training to earn a sponsorship toward our goal of climbing the peak.  We created and posted a video to You Tube and garnered over 10,000 views to win the award.  Upon winning, my daughters leaped into action to organize the entire trip and train for a difficult attempt.  They planned the entire trip, including travel arrangements, car rental, hotel, campsite locations, and developing a gear list.  My role was to help them prepare physically and guide them to the summit.  They impressed me with their commitment to the goal.

The process leading up to the expedition and including the actual climb, taught them a lot about themselves and their capabilities.  It helped me see them not only as my kids, watching for their safety, but as capable and strong young women with the ability to do amazing things and persevere through adversity.  They came off the mountain feeling invincible, a feeling I know they’ll carry throughout the rest of their lives. 

As we were returning from the summit, I began thinking of how fitness has made all of this possible for us.  Without it we would never have experienced the glow of the rising sun on the mountain’s East face, the breathtaking view of Glacier Gorge as we pass through the Keyhole, our route’s signature face, and the exhilaration of standing on the summit.  Most importantly, we had the endurance to make it back to our camp safely despite a sudden sleet storm. 

You might not aspire to climb a mountain, but I’d bet that you’d like to live your life to its fullest.  It’s never too late to start.  We met people from ages 7 to 75 on the climb, some with the summit as their goal and others just planning to reach their own personal high point. 

What can fitness do for you?

TRX Sponsors US! Longs Peak, here we come!

Longs PeakFor the past 2-1/2 months we’ve been tirelessly promoting our participation in the TRX Sponsors You contest. (If you’re not already familiar with the TRX Suspension Trainer, go here). Thanks to the efforts of the readers of this blog and all our our Facebook friends, students at Neuqua Valley High School, Gregory Middle School, family, and many other friends, we won!

Courtesy of TRX Training, my daughters and I are going to climb Long’s Peak this summer. I couldn’t be more excited and I know they feel the same. I’ve always loved the mountains. Rachael is too young to remember her trip to Alaska when she was 2 and Sara’s never been to the mountains. Neither have ever been above 5000 feet except for a few trips in an airplane. Winning the contest was the easy part and now comes the preparation, planning, and training.

In addition to my other fitness related articles, I am planning to document the trip and our preparation for the climb on this blog. Before you begin thinking that this doesn’t apply to fitness, let me explain.

One of the most important parts of your fitness journey is setting a goal. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. If you don’t have a goal, what are you doing and why are you doing it? Second, reaching your fitness goals involves more than just working out. It involves a personal commitment beyond the weight room or cardio machines. It involves you and those around you supporting your goal. It requires planning and preparation of your mind to visualize reaching the goal. It involves asking yourself regularly, “is what I’m doing today right now, helping me reach my goals”. Our goal is going to be completed one step at a time, literaly, and so is yours.

With that in mind, our goal is to be standing on the summit of Long’s Peak this summer. I look foward to sharing our progress with you!

Here’s an easy way to help us win the TRX Get With The Movement Contest

Thanks to the help of my readers, Facebook friends, family, non-Facebook friends, and more, my daughters and I are really in the running for the top prize in the TRX Get With The Movement sponsorship contest.  Thank you!

My friend Ken Hansen (he’s a great handyman.  If you’ve got a to do list, he’ll make it his get it done list) gave me an idea.  He said that he’s set his home page as our video so each time he opens a web browser the video gets another view.  Great idea!

Here are the simple steps to changing your home page:

1. Click the following link to visit our TRX Get With The Movement video on You Tube:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zyHkBH2rPU

 2. If you’re using Internet Explorer, click the toolbar picture of the house at the top right of your screen (see below).

 3. Choose Add or Change Home Page

 4. From the Add or Change Home Page dialog box, choose “Use this webpage as your only home page.

 After we win the TRX Get With The Movement contest (don’t worry, I’ll announce it on this blog), you’re welcome to leave our video as your home page so you can see us every day.  But, if you’d like to change it back to your original home page we’ll understand.  Just follow the same steps above but be sure to change the link in step 1 to your preferred home page.

My daughters want to climb Long’s Peak and you can help

Vote for our video and help us get to Long's Peak
Vote for our video and help us get to Long's Peak

My daughters and I have entered a contest through Fitness Anywhere, the makers of the TRX Suspension Trainer, and we need your help.  We’ve created a video and all we’re asking is that you watch the video and share it with all of your friends.  Each view counts as a vote and will help us get to our goal.

If we get enough votes, TRX will sponsor us on a climb of Long’s Peak and give us a video camera to document the whole thing.  Please help us make the dream happen!

Copy the link below and share it through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, every method you can think of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zyHkBH2rPU

 In addition to sharing the link, click below to watch the video right here!