You’ve skied a full day, flattened out a platform, set up your camp and set off to find, fell, retrieve and process your firewood for the night. Sat in your warm tent drinking a brew, you look over your route for tomorrow, then tea and bed, waking when it’s your shift to stoke the stove.
Fitness enables mental alertness, the capability to make quick decisions, problem solving skills and the ability to cope with fatigue. Physical robustness isn’t just about being the fastest or strongest; it’s one of the keys to the backcountry. Being able to carry out demanding tasks with ease means you’re less likely to make a simple mistake which could have serious consequences for you and those in your charge.
I feel that it’s my responsibility to maintain my fitness so as to be able to effectively cope with unforeseen problems that may arise during the courses, and while away on my own trips; but also so I can enjoy the environments I find myself in.
I have found that wearing a small pack weighing 5 to 10 kg while going about daily life makes a big difference in maintaining condition, as it increases the effort required to do anything (other than watching TV). I exercise at least three times a week, alternating upper body (press ups, pull ups, sit ups) lower body (squats, lunges, planks, burpees etc.) and either a run, cycle or stepper. While working on our bushcraft courses, the day to day activity of assisting the instructors is work enough to maintain my base strength and fitness.
Of course, an added benefit of physical robustness is that you are better prepared should you fall ill or find yourself having nothing but your body and your mind to rely on. And remember – fuel your body with a healthy balanced diet whilst at home and away.
Of course, should you start to exercise after a long period of illness or not having trained before, you should consult a GP beforehand so as to train within your capabilities.
Senior Woodlore Course Assistant