Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fishing and Fitness (really?)

Ok, this may not be a very popular post for some of you but I'm going to talk about fitness and athleticism as it relates to fishing. Yeah, I know that many of you fish exactly because it demands little of either of these attributes. If you're happy with that, that's cool and you can quit reading. For the 3 of you still reading, here's my point.

Fitness and athleticism are important to fishing in that they will translate into more and better fish and better experiences. Fitness, in this case, I'm going to narrowly define as having the strength and endurance to meet a certain demand or set of demands. Athleticism is the agility, coordination, and movement skills to perform certain tasks. Together, these two attributes are your ticket to better fishing experiences. Here's why.

If you have good fitness/athelticism you're going to be able to get to those places that have seen fewer fishermen and probably have more fish and more eager fish. Your fitness (I'm going to refer to fitness and athleticism collectively as "fitness") and skills provides a safety net. It means you'll be less tired when you arrive, you can fish longer, you'll have the confidence to know you can get yourself back out safely, you have the skills to confidently walk, climb, swim, float tube, and wade where many others may not, and you have some extra physical capacity as a safety valve when things go wrong. These are perhaps all pretty obvious points but not many fishermen I know choose to develop these attributes. If they did, they'd have access to better fishing in more beautiful areas.

The second, more subtle benefit of fitness is longevity. If you maintain and work on your fitness you are going to age better and stay more active. Greater performance at a given age is the definition of health. This translates into more and better fishing years with your friends and family. A lot of folks put off taking care of their health until it's too late. Don't do this. It's much easier to maintain than repair your body.

Ok, that's enough preaching. Here's what I really wanted to say: if the above makes sense to you, the best way I know of to achieve practical, useful fitness is to do Crossfit. I've been doing it for about 5 years. I'm almost 43 and can do things at this age that I could never do in my teens and twenties. I can do 35 pullups, one-legged squats, ring muscle ups, and other gymnastic skills. And the kicker is that my joints feel better than ever. Knees, shoulders, and back are all moving smoothly.

My point is, Crossfit really works. It increase your performance but not at the expense of health. And the skills it teaches apply well to your wilderness activities. Crossfit will help your stamina, agility, balance, and coordination, among other things. It also helps "bullet-proof" your body and makes it more impervious to injury. You learn how to move properly, your joints and connective tissue strengthen, and you learn skills that help you deal with athletic situations.

But is Crossfit safe? Maybe you've heard that it's really intense and looks dangerous. Well, as I alluded to above, it is actually quite safe and will increase your body integrity as an effect of the program. Crossfit is known for short (5-15 minute), intense workouts. However, the Crossfit folks are smart enough to know how to scale the movements and intensity of the workouts for gradual adjustment to the program. I work out with a range of people from teenagers to 65 year old women and we all do the same workouts. The exercises and tempo are just modified to fit the differing skill levels and physical limitations.

Crossfit will change your life. It is the real deal, and it's both safe and effective. I urge you to check it out. And there's probably an affiliate near you. Mark my words, you will hear much, much more about it in the coming years. Add 3 hours per week of it to your life and you will come out a better person, physically, and mentally.