A few weeks ago I was sitting in a hotel room in Amsterdam, and my Google reader recommended this article to me.
The author tells a tale about how she went on a cycling trip across the Netherlands, and how it changed her perspective on traveling by bike. The article is fantastic – you should read it. If you don’t, here’s the jist – traveling via bike allows for an immersion in your surroundings that cars, planes, or trains don’t allow for.
While reading the article, I actually began to consider what a multi-day cycling trip would look like for me. (I’m not sure yet, but I’m curious!) I read the author’s bio, which included that they’re someone “…who doesn’t let her lack of fitness get in the way of a good adventure.”
Two thoughts immediately came to me:
1) Considering the state of health in this country, I’d say that the ability to ride 400km over several days is actually pretty fit. That’s 250 miles for the Americans, which averages 60 miles per day. Those aren’t short rides.
2) What opportunities for adventure are unlocked when we truly feel fit?
Our culture has a flawed relationship with the human body: We’re so focused on what it looks like our bodies can do, that we rarely have a chance to consider what they’re actually capable of.
What if we actively cultivated a sense of fitness that enhances our ability to have good adventures? While I was in Amsterdam, my friend Justin was in Santorini, Greece, and we were chatting about the ability to explore new places. He wrote:
“I’ve seen so many people struggle to climb these steps this week, man. Some people probably couldn’t travel to these places because they are in really poor shape. Training is a means to an end, and I love the fact that I could go up and down these stairs and walk 11 miles a day and feel great. Just another reason to never stop!”Justin Moore, @jmsb_strengthtraining
It’s enlightening to me that an elite level strength coach is also thinking about how a higher level of fitness can better allow us to travel and experience the world. Walking around all day might not seem extraordinary to my younger #SeriousFitness friends, but it’s an ability that many people don’t have.
This makes the extremely walkable cities of Europe inaccessible. It means that the incredible views and vistas of nature are seen as pictures and never in real life. It means that the closest some get to a culture is the food available in their home town.
I want to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch the cultures of the places that I travel. I want to wander down the streets of a new location as I follow the sound of music and the smells of new food.
Your ability to explore and experience the world is greatly enhanced by a consistent exercise practice, and I’m grateful for the abilities that I have.
Truly, the ability to comfortably walk around may be the most important capacity we have – more important than how much we can deadlift or our ability to do push-ups. What our bodies are capable of is so much more important than what we look like naked.
When I exercise now, it’s infrequent that I’m thinking about the intrinsic value of the exercise. Sure, I love playing the game of Pokemon with mitochondria and trying to collect them all, and I love me some deadlifts, but that isn’t what motivates me to work out.
I’m motivated by the idea of developing a more capable body. Exercising is about creating the physical capacity necessary to have more fun during recreational or leisure activities. For me, that’s mountain biking, hiking, and traveling.
I want to ride harder without getting hurt, and explore forests and cities without worrying about how far I can go without getting tired. RIght now, I can go all day without getting tired, and it’s an incredible feeling to be free to explore wherever you want and not have to worry about your body taking you there.
Imagine what we could do if we were more confident in our body’s capacity to do work. Oh, the places we could go!
Where would you go?