Monthly Archives: September 2008

Weight training or rock climbing, the trick is the progression

As you guys know, I have recently started attending a gym. I’m enjoying myself so far, including the dreaded cardio that I hadn’t expected to enjoy.

The behavioural scientist in me keeps observing people wherever I am, and I realized that there are many common factors to weight training and training for rock climbing.

The point came home to me when I over heard two women behind me when riding the stationary bike. The gist of the conversation was how they were unhappy with the gym facilities and how after exercising for a year, they had hardly seen any change in themselves.

This sounded like some climbers I used to know, who remained at “beginner” level eternally.

The thing is that whether you are on a rock or in a gym, it is a situation with the potential for exercise. Growing involves heading beyond your limits, and if you never try to do it, you will never get there. Its as silly as whining because you aren’t in the mall when you didn’t get up to go there in the first place. No matter how long you think about going to the mall, you will get there only when you move in that direction, though the road to there will always exist.

These women had a 10 min conversation while I cycled hard enough to not be able to speak more than a few words if necessary. Guess what I’m going to be saying about my year later?

If you are among those who are complaining that your exercise is taking you nowhere, ask yourself where are you taking the exercise?

I don’t mean that you have to kill yourself out and walk like a rusty robot all the time because you exercise. However, doing what you are doing will bring changes too.

Enough has been said about increasing weights, increasing speeds and increasing durations – these are all valid and fun ways of challenging yourself anew. Yet, there is one important way which will help you in every aspect of life – rigor.

Use weights you can handle well, then go about doing things well. Move precisely, controlled and slow, don’t jerk, don’t lose focus, maintain your posture. See what happens. I’m willing to say that this will help you more than the workouts you do to simply get them done.

You see, fitness doesn’t understand how much you paid for the gym, or how many hours you spent on it. Fitness is about how well your body functions, which can only happen by constantly trying to do it well.

Monsoon Treks: Mumbai

So many people going out on hikes and treks near Mumbai these days. Out of curiosity, I was going through my email, and looking at the different hikes and treks that happened this monsoon that I came to know of.

In the lead to trak Sahyadris Rajmachi leads with 7 treks followed closely by Lohagad and Matheran with 5 and 6 respectively. Matheran weather in August seems to have a lot to do with this. Misty dreamy atmosphere in a town without motorized transport…… Other popular picnis spots near Mumbai seem to be Karnala, Peth trek, Lonavla in general and Sudhagad. The focus seemed to be (unsurprisingly) on places to visit in monsoon near Mumbai.

In terms of interests, wildlife and people seem to be made for each other followed by photography, trees and a small number of people engaged in waterfall rappelling. Figure 8 rappelling is a new term I have learnt these days after hearing it from at least 5 different sources in enquiries for programmes. As far as I am aware, there is no such thing. I assume people might be referring to the figure of 8 descender used in rappelling. Though why would an activity get its own seemingly different identity simply through the label of one of the equipment used, is anyone’s guess. We use that descender anyway. How would naming the activity after it be anything significant?

Adventure learning activities and leadership games seem to be a growing interest and one group of friends actually turned their trek into a thrilling and learning experience by including active reviewing into their plans.

Great feeling. So where have you been this season?

Joined a Gym

After hesitating for days, I have finally joined a gym. I had gone for a couple of days earlier, but quit. To me, it seems pointless to move my body without purpose, and I’m ok with my “body-image” as in don’t need to get fatter, thinner, bulkier, slimmer, etc. That means I used to get bored doing endless repetitive actions.

But now, I decided that with increasing success and *cough* seniority, I hardly get any exercise worth its name in the outdoors. Most of the time, as a trainer, my work load is more mental than physical, and the few times I manage to get into the activities, I have enough people who make my life easier out of respect.

Which basically means, that I’m revving with restless energy. I thought a gym may be a good way to burn it all out.

Yesterday was my first day, and it broke all illusions of fitness I had. All kinds of people were running endlessly on treadmills and stuff, which was my first destination as a beginner. As an ex-horsewoman, trekking guide and outdoor person for over 16 years, my fantasy was that it would be easy. Let’s stop at emphsizing that it was a fantasy.

10 min on the treadmill at 5kmph had me winded like nobody’s business. Somehow, walking on the treadmill got me whacked. There was a time when walking at 6kmph or so for hours with my horses was routine. While that has been a long time ago, I certainly don’t find myself anything close to tiring while walking even now. I’m wondering what happened to me on that treadmill.

My suspicion is that I was not able to get into my rhythm for walking on the treadmill. Add boredom and lack of pressure to that…. In the outdoors, there is a sense of peace, of enjoying the place I am in that was missing. Plus, there is a certain motivation to reaching the destination unless I want to be caught out in the wilds at night, which was not here – step off the treadmill at will and the walking is done.

I suspect I’m not too great with will power when it comes to doing things that don’t appeal.

Now I’m wondering how I can help myself like it. Going to take along some music today and see if that helps.

In any case, unlike the last time, I’ve created a destination that is not optional for this gym experience. I’ve paid for a full year, and the miser in me will not allow me to fritter it away. I know myself enough to know that the feeling of being in regular exercise will appeal to me, even if I don’t enjoy the actual exercise, and that is one thing that will help me find ways I can create my enjoyment in there.

A few things that come to mind are music, TV (they have one), etc. Another option is to create goals that appeal to me. One that I have in mind is doing the kinds of things that will help my climbing fitness or endurance, etc. Let’s see, its too early at the moment, but I’m certain that I will have updates as my creative mind begins to engage in this process.

Outdoor Instructor Training and Certification in India

Wide Aware is in the process of designing a three day training programme for training and certification of activity instructors in the outdoors. The current scenario with instructors is that there is no specific training that they undergo. Some instructors do the mountaineering courses in an effort to get some skills, but they are not particularly relevant to taking groups into the outdoors.

As a result, there are a lot of hit or miss processes.

This programme we are planning is a three day initiative designed specially for instructors who use outdoor adventure activities to support experiential learning objectives. While the course is still being designed, some of the intended content includes:

  • How to handle activities
  • How to execute programmes
  • Handling ropes
  • Belay systems
  • Sequencing activities for optimal design
  • Ratio of instructors to participants for various kinds of programmes
  • Attitudes toward participant management
  • Strategies and skills for working with different age groups
  • Participant observation, interaction and guidance
  • Risk management

Other possibilities being considered are orienteering, first aid, and some other subjects.

This programme is not intended to develop facilitation or training related skills, but restricts its scope toward activities in the outdoors and the role of the instructor conducting them.

The programme is planned for November at the YMCA campsite at Mulshi.

This programme is well suited for anyone who would like to develop skills for working with groups and conducting activities in the outdoors. Feel free to comment here with your feedback or if you would like to be informed when the final dates are announced.

Update: This programme has already happened. We are now announcing a programme for facilitators in the outdoors.