Adventure can be defined as “an unusual and exciting or daring experience” or it might be to “engage in daring or risky activity.”
In the modern world, for many of us adventure is few and far between, especially for those who have spent the best part of their life putting on the same suit, jumping on the same train and sitting at the desk day in and day out, with the biggest adventure being the decision of whether to wear the red or purple tie to work. As children we strive for adventure, for excitement, a little danger, pushing our boundaries and not knowing what might come of it. For some of us as children, we are lucky enough to have parents or family that encourage this element of adventure by taking us camping, to try new activities and explore new places. For those who experienced the beauty of adventure as a child but have now settled for the desk life, it is even more soul destroying.
Time seems to pass faster and faster with age, and quite often we might ask ourselves where has the past week, month and year disappeared to. We all have that list of things we want to do, those places we want to see, activities we want to try and people we want to meet. Unfortunately, for so many people that list gets put off to the next day, week, or year, until realising that the precious gift of life has all but gone and oh so few of that list were crossed off. We get comfortable in our daily routine and don’t want to upset the waters, we complain, yet we have enough to not do anything differently. We plan for different, but then we behave the same, using the excuses we used last week and the week before that. It’s raining this weekend, we can go camping next weekend, or, i’ve had a long week this week, I think I’ll just watch TV tonight and reschedule.
Adventure is different to every one of us, for one individual who goes on mountain expeditions, an adventure might be going to a salsa class, for the individual who works in IT and sits at a desk Monday through Friday, an adventure might be running around the local park at the weekend. Essentially, adventure is something that is different, it may make you feel a little uneasy, but it is this uneasy feeling that also creates excitement. In essence, life is one big adventure, and it is up to the individual how exciting they make it. One of the greatest philosophical questions I have encountered (in the book the E-Myth) is “if you were to die tomorrow, what would you want it to read on your tombstone”? Quite a deep and meaningful question, but one that really provokes the individual to ask themselves whether they are living life true to their vision. I don't think many people want to look back and be remembered as that guy or girl who spent all his time behind a laptop in an office room, with little to say outside of it other than going for a drink on the weekend and watching a whole lot of TV series. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know as a child and even now I want to be remembered as someone who did things differently, thought for himself and wasn’t afraid of trying new things. Of course, we aren’t going to love every place or activity we try, but without even giving it a go, we will never know. An adventure is an extended experience, frought with risk and reward, unpredictable twists, guaranteed obstacles, and surprising results. You can take a trip, launch out on a voyage, or undergo a journey fast asleep. But an adventure has to be experienced. Eyes wide open. In disbelief, terror, amazement, or bliss. It is an essentially existential endeavour, a foray of the heart, mind and senses that calls into play every aspect of your existence.
In sport or as a coach we strive to get individuals to move towards a Nach personality. The reason being? Well if we want to become a Lion and we want to fulfill our potential then we must be willing to take on more challenging circumstances, whether as an athlete, a CEO, a teacher, a journalist or just about whatever field we are in. By knowing that it is ok to fail, and seeking guidance on where we have failed, it allows us to work on our downfalls and come back stronger. Adventure fitness is one of the best opportunities we have to move towards a Nach personality, taking on the elements and putting our physicality to the test and not knowing whether we will achieve success or not. If we achieve our task, fantastic! If we don’t achieve what we set out to do, no problem, at least we attempted it, and it can fuel us to retry in the future after examining what went wrong. More than not in life, when we are unsuccessful at something it isn’t because we aren’t capable, but more likely that we underestimated and were ill-prepared, so use your failures as a opportunity to understand the level of commitment your task requires.
Fitness can be defined as “the condition of being physically fit and healthy” or “the quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task.”
Fitness might be lifting really heavy weights - if our surroundings are a powerlifting meet. Fitness might be the ability to swim a couple of kilometres, if the swimming pool is our chosen arena. However, for me fitness is the state of being physically capable to take on a range of tasks, not just being able to lift heavy weight, but being able to sprint, climb, swim, throw and cycle. Physical health is about having a good state of all round ability to meet the demands of whatever circumstances we are placed in. The human perception of fitness is an interesting one; quite often we might get people looking in a gym at an individual with an amazing physique and defined muscles thinking they must be extremely fit. Yet, we take that individual outside of the gym and ask them to play 5-a-side or run around a park and they can’t last more than 5 minutes.
Whilst we may aim to develop certain physical characteristics more than others depending on our goals, the sports we play and our body type, it is good to try and focus on developing all the different systems of the body, these include: muscular, skeletal, circulatory, hormonal and respiratory. Whilst there are other systems to the human body, these are the ones we can have a significant impact on through exercise. We can develop the muscular system by incorporating resistance training of some sort into our program, the skeletal system can be developed in the same manner. For the circulatory and respiratory systems we want to aim to develop them through forms of exercise which cause us, in simple terms, to get out of breath. We can use aerobic and anaerobic forms of exercise to build the heart, lungs, and efficiency of our blood vessels to pump oxygen to and remove carbon dioxide from, the muscles.
Having a wide variety of training methods to develop our fitness is important as it creates balance in the body. For example, if all we do is lift heavy weights like a bodybuilder or strongman, we will put on a lot of weight also usually, and only doing this form of training on a regular basis can lead to joint issues as well as heart problems having to work significantly harder than the average human just to pump blood around the body and allow the body to function. But similarly, on the other end of the spectrum, just doing yoga every day with no real cardiovascular or strength training doesn’t define true fitness. Quite regularly I see ladies who go to yoga classes 4 or 5 times a week plus (which is fantastic they are doing exercise regularly), and yes they have great flexibility, but much of the time they lack any strength and if you asked them to run a kilometre on a treadmill they wouldn’t be able to. In my next article I will go into some physical testing standards to give yourself an idea of where you sit across the board when it comes to physical fitness. But more importantly for this article, what is adventure fitness?
For me, adventure fitness isn’t necessarily something new, it is something we have been doing for many years, but I believe it is something that is truly starting to take off in our modern day era, with people wanting to travel more, yet step outside their comfort zone a little and see what they are capable of. Adventure fitness is about combining the above two definitions and quite simply, going on an adventure that requires physical (and mental) fitness to achieve your end goal. It might be going to Wales on a Sunday to takes on Snowdon National Park and seeing how many peaks you can get up in 8 hours. It could be renting out a kayak on the River Thames and seeing how far along it you can get in daylight hours, cycling overnight to Paris, taking on your first obstacle race, or on a greater scale going on a couple week fitness adventure to climb up Everest. As mentioned earlier, we are all at different levels of fitness, and we all have different perceptions of what constitutes an adventure for us depending on our life experiences to date, but why is a adventure fitness so bloody important, and why on Earth will it change your life?
Adventure on its own is fantastic, it can allow the mind to wander, bring out an individuals creativity, dull the monotony of daily routine, allow you to meet new people and understand new cultures and the list could be endless. But a Fitness Adventure……... well now we are taking things up a notch. Discovering new parts of our beautiful Earth, or trying new activities and meeting new people is great, but experiencing a place after having spent 6 hours putting in your sweat and energy to get yourself up to that mountain summit is a different feat entirely, and an experience every individual should strive to experience regularly. A Fitness adventure will take you outside your comfort zone that much more, allowing you to put both your physical, psychological and emotional fortitude to the test, and reaping the benefits in return….
1. Changing Your Perception on Life
One of the greatest benefits of going on a fitness adventure is broadening one’s horizons, taking that individual outside of the small bubble that they live inside day to day and giving them the opportunity to not only understand different different culture’s and beliefs but also to put things into perspective as to how much you may take for granted in day to day life. An example of this for me was when cycling the Altiplano in Bolivia; yes I was quite often a very tired young man, cycling up to 180km a day and often only getting a couple of hours sleep at night in my tent after washing in whichever local river we could find. But then I would see what must have been a 60 year old Bolivian lady, walking up the mountains in the middle of nowhere with no shoes on and carrying a sack of corn or potatoes which was the size of Santa’s sack to a rich family on Christmas eve. It was times like these where I realised just how lucky I am in my life back home, the opportunity and comforts that I forget to be so fortunate for each day. Also each time we take on a physical challenge it changes our perceptions of what we believe capable, for instance you may doubt your own ability to ski down a mountain once, but the second time you will feel more comfortable and possibly seek greater challenge.
2. You develop a greater level of self-confidence and belief
Leading on from the end of point one, self-confidence and self-efficacy are two of the most fundamental psychological qualities one can possess. Possessing these two qualities in good quantities are what allow us to take on new challenges and experiences, rather than simply stick to what we know and avoid possible experiences where we may incur failure. These two personality types or achievement motivations are known in sports psychology as:
Nach (Need to achieve) - will select more challenging tasks where there is a risk of failure, likes to receive feedback
Naf (Need to avoid failure) - Will select the easier task that they know they are likely to succeed in, don’t enjoy feedback
In sport or as a coach we strive to get individuals to move towards a Nach personality. The reason being? Well if we want to become a Lion and we want to fulfill our potential then we must be willing to take on more challenging circumstances, whether as an athlete, a CEO, a teacher, a journalist or just about whatever field we are in. By knowing that it is ok to fail, and seeking guidance on where we have failed, it allows us to work on our downfalls and come back stronger. Adventure fitness is one of the best opportunities we have to move towards a Nach personality, taking on the elements and putting our physicality to the test and not knowing whether we will achieve success or not. If we achieve our task, fantastic! If we don’t achieve what we set out to do, no problem, at least we attempted it, and it can fuel us to retry in the future after examining what went wrong. More than not in life, when we are unsuccessful at something it isn’t because we aren’t capable, but more likely that we underestimated and were ill-prepared, so use your failures as an opportunity to understand the level of commitment your task requires.
However, each time we do achieve success in a particular task, it improves our self-efficacy. Self efficacy is a measure of one’s confidence to take on a task and complete it. When we are faced with a challenge, more than likely the first thing we do is subconsciously review it in our head and see if we have completed it before, if we have, then we feel more confident in our abilities to do it again. Each time we complete an experience that is new and challenging, it increases that self-efficacy, increasing our likelihood of taking on bigger challenges in the future and continuing to develop ourselves physically and mentally.
3. It will provide you with memories and friendships
This may sound a little corny, but essentially this is what life is about right? Why do people work their asses off in confined rooms staring at a screen for up to 9 hours a day, or spend 85% of their living daily hours either working or commuting to work. It sure as hell isn’t so they can earn money that lays dormant. Obviously we need money to live, but what really provides us value in life's experiences and memories. When you are lying on your death-bed (whenever that may be), all that money you have earned can’t be take to the grave with you (or the materialistic objects that you have bought with that money), instead what you will be taking is the experiences live and the people you have lived them with. For me, there are three key things to happiness in one’s life, and they are experiences, people and challenges. It is the challenges we overcome with the people we know or love that provide us with experiences we shall not forget. For those of you reading this that have been exploring around the world, or have taken on a physically challenge that pushed you to your limit, I believe you will agree that it is moments like these we live for. People don’t talk to one another about how exciting their day at work is, but they will talk about that Marathon they have coming up, or that adventure to India they have planned. If you have stuck with me this far then hopefully you are of the same beliefs that whilst we need money to live, we definitely don’t need a lot of the material objects we think we do, and that money is better off being spent on taking new adventures, learning new skills and meeting new people.
Fitness adventures are the future of travel, especially for those who appreciate the beauty of improving physical health and fitness whilst exploring the natural beauty this planet has to offer. If you are ready to take on your first fitness adventure, there is no better time than now! I have put together the perfect fitness adventure itinerary in the mystic and beautiful Slovenia, which has been voted the green capital of Europe. It is a seven day adventure where you will explore some of the most breathtaking sights the country has to offer including: Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Slavica Waterfall, Mostna Gorge and the Julian Alps, all whilst testing putting your mind and muscles to the test! Don’t worry, as a food enthusiast you can ensure your body will be provided with all the goodness you need to keep your engine running, check out information about the retreat here - www.higherlevelperformance.co.uk/retreats and get in contact if your ready to create some memories.