If outdoor fitness has been your road not taken, summer may be perfect time to ditch those climate-controlled Pilates classes and take a hike.
“The Green Mountains of Vermont is the gym in our backyard,” said Jimmy LeSage, owner of the New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, Vermont. “You get to be in nature. It’s more tranquil.”
Although the spa offers other activities, its centerpiece is hiking, which can mean anything from a leisurely nature jaunt to an arduous trek up a mountain.
Hard economic times may be driving more budget-conscious Americans to move their fun, and their fitness, out of doors. The Outdoor Foundation, a nonprofit association of the outdoor recreation industry, reported that participation in hiking grew by nine percent in 2008.
Traversing hills, especially while carrying a backpack, burns calories, strengthens muscles and can prove addictive enough to uproot even the most stubborn couch potato, according to Dr. Patty Freedson of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Hiking is Not Just One Hill
“Hiking doesn’t take a lot of skills and can be done with group support,” she said. “Most important, it’s enjoyable. If you can get a sedentary person to do one or two miles and sustain it, that would be great.”
The Fatpacking company, based in Hull, Massachusetts, likes their hiking-for–loss treks spiked with camping and wilderness training. Do you like backpacking, trekking, hiking, skiing and camping? There is nothing like the freedom and beauty that the outdoors offers. You may only be able to get away for an hour here and there, or you may be able to go for an entire weekend. Regardless of how often you are able to trek or hike, trekking poles can make the adventure much more enjoyable, with far less fatigue. Many people are interested in obtaining a trekking pole or hiking stick, but aren’t quite sure how to use them. Many people simply pick up a stick in the wilderness that is about 4 feet long, feels good in their hand, that isn’t too heavy and start hiking. For basic short hikes, walking sticks work just fine, but once you have used a specially designed trekking pole, you will quickly discard your hiking stick. Many of today’s trekking poles are adjustable in length, have spring loaded shock absorbers inside them and utilize molded grips. They come in all kinds of lightweight materials, such as aluminum, titanium, pure carbon and carbon fiber. The material the poles are made of reflects directly on the price you will pay. You will get here the different types of trekking poles grips for the different grip.
“I also call it ‘fitpacking’ because people don’t want to tell other people they’re going to Fatpacking,” said company founder Steve Silberberg.
Silberberg, who left a career in computer programming to indulge his inner boy scout, said his expeditions, while geared to loss, are not for the morbidly obese or the faint of heart.
“It’s not for couch potatoes or ‘Big Loser’ types,” he said, referring to the popular television show that helps people lose weight. “Over steep terrain with a huge pack on your back, you get a cumulative fatigue. Thighs and butts tend to get a bit bigger because of increased muscle mass. Body composition changes a little bit.”
Bree Gotsdiner, an occasional co-guide, said people often use Fatpacking treks to jumpstart a diet.
“People always lose fat, always gain muscle,” she explained. “(Food) portions are limited to what we carry,” the former firefighter, said, adding all guides are EMT and wilderness certified.
“You need different skills when you’re in the forest than when you’re in the city.”
Hiking is a Tough Workout
Silberberg said the most important thing to pack on a hike is a good attitude, but he admits the expeditions may not be for everyone.
“We hike whether it’s rain or shine or snow,” he said. “If you think you’re going to be unhappy without electricity or plumbing, maybe it’s not for you.”
This winter Fatpacking plans to tackle the Haute Route in the Alps. But that journey may see clients forgoing sleeping bags for warm beds.
“We work with what’s available,” Silberberg explained. “People are not as willing to camp out if they know that there’s an inn a mile away.”