By Curtis Hall
BAREfit's Co-Founder and
Head Creative Force
I believe Outdoor Adventure Sports (OAS’s) are for everyone, not just these guys…
So in the current article writing style trend, here are my 10 reasons justifying my above statement. But first, lets define exactly what OAS’s are…
Outdoors- This one's simple, you do them outside. Not in a gym or your basement or a stadium. You can train for them inside, like in a climbing gym or at a BAREfit WORKsite, but they inherently remove you from within walls and roofs and preferably from pavement.
Adventure- An adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual activity that has some element of risk. Just like anything else, there are degrees of adventure, for some it may be jogging on the gravel path at a local park instead of the sidewalk in their neighborhood, for others it may be speed ascending Everest.
Sports- These are recreational activities that require some amount of skill or conditioning, usually including competitive aspects.
Thus, in summary, OAS’s are skilled (often competitive) recreational activities that get you outside and take you out of your comfort zone. Now that we’re all on the same page, lets get down to business.
1) The options are practically endless.
A quick Internet search reveals nearly endless options for OAS’s. Four easily accessible and popular ones here in Louisville are trail running, mountain biking, paddling and rock climbing. None of these your thing? How about mountain boarding, stand up paddle boarding, parkour, open water swimming, mud/obstacle runs, bouldering, tree climbing, etc. Or you could just make up your own (like these guys).
2) You can get rolling today for cheap!
There’s often a stigma that OAS’s are only for trust fund babies with too much money and nomadic 20 something’s who live out of a car that’s worth less than the gear it hauls. This is often confirmed by a trip to the local outdoor or bike shop where one can easily spend $200 on a fleece jacket or $3000 on a bike. But really, all you need for a trail run are a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Feel like riding some trails? A fully capable used mountain bike can be had for as little as $200. A decent pair of climbing shoes is all you need to start bouldering. Quality outdoor gear is made to last and can be found in great used shape for cheap. OAS’s are about having fun and being active, not about having the shiniest gear. Plus old beat up gear majorly boosts your trail cred!
3) Even if you weren’t good at team sports, you can still kick ass at OAS’s.
Most people grow up playing team sports. Most of us were not good enough to keep playing them beyond high school. Others just never connected with traditional team sports. Both are true for me. At first, options to stay active seem limited for people in my position, especially when coupled with a busy schedule. Even for those with very limited athletic ability, most OAS’s are very beginner friendly & scalable. If you’re an ex-highschool/college athlete, the strength, endurance & agility developed in team sports translates quite nicely. For those with tight schedules, the outdoors are always open, so no excuses there.
4) They are good for your body…
I think we can all agree exercise is good. The rub is what exercise is most effective? In my 7 years of coaching fitness, two common strains of every successful fitness program have been sustainability and challenge. Sustainability meaning, does the program remain effective & engaging while not tearing down ones body over time. Secondly, our bodies will only get healthier if they are challenged to do such. Many people plateau and drop out of exercise because programs lack progressive challenge to both the body & mind. When done properly OAS’s are both sustainable and challenging. Every outdoor adventure workout offers new challenges (i.e. trail conditions are always changing, water levels vary) keeping the mind and body engaged & adapting in ways the treadmill or weight room can’t touch. Also, many of the top OAS athletes are in their mid 30’s-40’s, something few other sports can claim (more on that later).
5) …and your soul.
It’s a given that exercise affects your mood, releasing hormones that fight depression, fat storage and all other sorts of nasty stuff. Exercising outdoors in nature increases these positive effects by replacing oppressive fluorescent lighting with the sun and TV’s with the trail ahead of or the peak above you. Reaching actual mountaintops gives a sense of accomplishment that numbers on a screen or tics on a chalkboard can’t quite compare with. OAS’s get back to the roots and the joy that comes with activity while taking focus off numbers and putting it on experience. These changes in your mental game will become apparent in you performance and goal success because everything in the body is connected.
6) They are great cross training.
OK, so you’re a hardcore roadie or WOD-ite, leave the trails to the granola munchers you say? Every sport (even the sport of fitness) has inherent repetitive movements that cause musculoskeletal imbalances that if not addressed, ultimately lead to injury. This is where cross training, or exercises to even out these imbalances, come into play. Lets take road running for example. Almost all running injuries stem from an imbalanced/weak core that results in misaligned hips and improper muscle recruitment. Along with proper form coaching and corrective core/stretching work, trail running and rock climbing/bouldering will go a long way to correct imbalances and increase performance. Trail running requires more and varied core, leg and foot muscle recruitment due to ever changing terrain. It also makes you more aware of your hip positioning, stride & foot strike, and is easier on your joints due to softer ground. Performance wise, it boosts your power on tap for killing hills and adaptability for ascending/descending. Climbing increases full body strength (especially core/lower back and upper body) and mobility/flexibility. Most runners are lacking in both areas.
7) They connect you with nature.
Many of our modern society’s issues (obesity, factory farms, diminishing natural resources, media obsession) can be traced back to a disconnection from nature. I’m not saying we all need to build tiny houses and live off the grid, but... Modern conveniences are good, but instead of us using them as tools, they turn us into tools. Uplugging for just 30 minutes and going for a hike can give you a new appreciation for the world around you, that ultimately sustains you, and help break technology addictions that are literally melting your brain.
8) The community is great.
Apart from my church, the outdoor community is the most laid back, inclusive and welcoming group I have been a part of. Just like any group there will be some elitist outliers, but most outdoor enthusiasts ventured outside to escape that kind of thing. The OAS world is full of people who love what they do and want to share it with anyone who will listen. Many of my best friends I originally connected with through OAS’s. One of my favorite things to do is take 1st timers out climbing or paddling and teach them all I know. This is a very common sentiment among outdoor enthusiasts. They know that the more people who love the outdoors, the more outdoors there will be to love.
9) You can enjoy them well into your aged years.
One big issue with many traditional sports is the low shelf life of the athletes. They are rough on the body, not holistically minded and value performance over health. For example, many basketball & football players are obsolete by their mid 20’s. This is in direct contrast to OAS athletes. Many of the top sponsored athletes are well into their 30’s & even 40’s. Many more compete or enjoy outdoor sports recreationally well into their 60’s & 70’s. This is unheard of in many sports and such a encouragement to those who feel they missed the fitness boat. When you stop moving is when you truly get old. OAS’s give regular people the chance to keep moving in ways that are sustainable, rewarding and fun.
10) They will help you survive the (insert doomsday scenario) apocalypse.
Anyone who’s seen Zombieland knows there are certain skills required to survive disasters, be it jumping over logs as you run away from zombies or climbing a tree to escape a flood. But zombies aside, OAS’s uniquely prepare you for whatever life may throw at you. This is in contrast to most modern exercise, that in a misguided goal of user friendliness, is increasingly becoming less and less applicable to real life situations.