By: Dr. Parker Hewes
Recently, I traveled to San Antonio to compete in the obstacle course race called American Ninja Warrior. In honor of that, I’d like to share with everyone EXACTLY what I do to train for an American Ninja event. Better yet, I’ll share all my training secrets with you (including what I did before completing the Jackson Picnic last summer and my plans to complete the Moranic Picnic this summer).
Here it goes. These are all my training secrets revealed:
- I do something active every day.
- Usually, I do a different type of activity each day.
- I often choose an outdoor activity.
- I always choose an activity that I think is fun.
Seriously, that’s it. I don’t lift weights or run 5 miles every day. Those things bore the heck out of me, and I don’t particularly appreciate doing boring things.
Exercise should be enjoyable. And the minute I feel like exercise is a chore or something to check off my to-do list, it’s time for something different. I never want to say, “I need to get my workout in today.” I’d rather say, “I really want to go for a bike ride today.” A small change in perspective can go a long way, so I choose my exercises based on fun and enjoyment, not on what societal norms say is the “right” way to train.
Most people say that I need to lift weights or adopt some routine schedule to progress my training. But honestly, I’m not convinced that going to the gym would be better for me than just playing around in the mountains. And this does not mean that the gym is a bad thing. If you’re a person who appreciates having external motivation and accountability to stay active, then gyms, classes, and personal trainers are a perfect fit. But if you get bored with routine, lifting weights, or seeing the same views every day, my training style might suit you better.
Below are some examples of the activities that I choose from each season. Not only do these activities keep me healthy and fully “trained up” for projects like American Ninja Warrior and the Moranic Picnic, but they also keep me happy (which I think is kind of important).
In the winter, I’ll alternate between these activities:
- downhill skiing
- cross country skiing
- simply walking around the elk refuge or going for a little jog on the road
- hiking without snowshoes and sometimes post-holing up a mountain (talk about a workout!)
- running up and down a sledding hill
- playing indoor rec sports (soccer, volleyball, pickleball, etc.)
- playing outdoor rec sports (broomball, hockey,
- dancing (like nobody’s watching. No alcohol needed 😉)
- jumping in cold lakes and rivers (yes, this is fun for me. Maybe I’m a little crazy…)
In the warmer months, I can choose from even more activities:
- trail running
- mountain biking
- road biking
- playing yard games with friends (Spikeball!!)
- rock climbing/bouldering/canyoneering
- whitewater kayaking/rafting
- frisbee golfing
- nature parkouring (essentially just running around the forest while jumping off stuff and climbing other stuff)
- playing traditional sports (soccer, golf, tennis, basketball, etc.)
There’s so much more, but I don’t want to bore you with the entire list (remember, I don’t like doing boring things).
While looking through this list, some of you might be thinking, “I like those activities, too, but I go to the gym to train for those activities.” That’s a fair point. Staying strong and mobile gives you the capacity and endurance to perform these activities. But I contend that consistently practicing many different activities will help you stay fit and mobile for the activities you love the most. The cross-training experts confirm this theory. They say that exposing your body to unique movements and loads helps you avoid injury and improve performance.
Also, I think consistency is more important than doing the absolute best exercise routine (which probably doesn’t exist anyway). And if it’s hard for you to stay consistent because you dread the boring routine of lifting weights or running on a treadmill, you might want to consider adding variety and fun to your life. It’s pretty difficult to fall off the bandwagon when you love the activity you’re doing.
So, I’m giving you permission to have fun with your “training.” Don’t even call it training. Just have fun moving your body in unique and exciting ways. If you like routine, consistency, and accountability, then stay on that gym rat grind. But if that strategy hasn’t been working for you, here’s your 3-step plan: Get outside. Switch it up. And have some fun!
– Dr. Parker
P.S. I was honored to be interviewed by a few local reporters in the last few weeks. If you’re interested in learning about my American Ninja Warrior journey, check out these links (note that the articles say I trained at Gym 22, but we all know where I did most of my training 😉): JH News & Guide, Buckrail, KHOL Radio
If you are dealing with some nagging issues that you just need a little help with, give Dr. Parker a call. He specializes in sports injuries throughout the arms, legs, and back.