I am an island girl. While I am just 22 miles across the sea from the hustle and bustle of L.A, life on the island is like taking a step back in time to a simpler way of life. Two Harbors, the town that I call home, is technically a village consisting of about 100 residents, 1 restaurant, 1 small store, and a handful of buffalo. There is no gym. Believe it or not, I have never actually been into a real, modern day gym. I ran on a treadmill once while visiting the mainland, it was torture!
As an athlete, one of the most common questions I am asked is how I train to preform like I do, without the use of a gym, machines, and a coach. I usually answer by pointing to the hills. This island, and the ocean that surrounds it, is my gym. My backyard consists of endless empty trails, dirt roads, mountains, beaches, and the open ocean. Every day, and every workout is an adventure.
Here are 3 of my go to island style workouts. I know not everyone lives on an island, but if you can get outside, get creative, and use your imagination, you’ll be surprised at what you too, can do in nature’s gym!
TRX suspension trainers are a great, convenient, and versatile tool to have where ever you go, especially if you go outside. When I am looking to combine strength and endurance, I load up my pack with the TRX, a 15lb plate for good measure, and then I head for the hills. I hike about 4 steep miles to the top my favorite ridge line, where there is a shade structure that is the perfect anchor for the TRX. The view from up there is rewarding all in itself, so I stay awhile and complete a full body circuit before packing up and hiking back.
Swim, bike, run. One of my favorite things to do on warm summer days! However, not always in that particular order, and sometimes I paddle instead of swim. I usually start on my bike and cruise down the coast about 5 miles to a point that looks out over the ocean. I stash my bike in the bushes and grab a pair of swim goggles that I’ll hold onto as I start to run or hike the ridge line a few more miles down the coast till I’m at one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Emerald Bay. There, I jump into crystal clear water and swim in the direction I came from until I end up back at my bikes location. I am often accompanied by schools of fish, curious sea lions, and if I’m lucky Ill spot an abalone shell for my collection. Ocean swimming is incredibly invigorating, leaving me with ample energy to hop back on my bike, ride to retrieve my shoes that I left at the beach, then turn around and bike all the way home with the biggest smile on my face.
Lifting Heavy Things
Rocks, beached logs, tree limbs, tires, and ropes are all essentials in my outdoor gym. You can use them to squat, flip, deadlift, carry, climb, jump on, hang from, and do pull ups. The possibilities are endless. Currently my most valuable pieces are an 80lb wood block that I found on the beach, and a simple rock that’s shape fits my grip perfectly. I squat down and flip the wood block across the field in front of my house when I’m doing a strength training circuit. I use the rock for underwater rock running, which is just what it sounds like, using a heavy rock to submerge yourself underwater and seeing how far you can run with it before you run out of breath! It’s mentally and physically challenging, but improves several areas of fitness.
Life on the island, immersed in some of the best nature has to offer, is what sparked, lit, and continues to fuel my success as an adventure athlete. From paddling 22 miles across the open ocean, to biking half way across the island to simply check the surf, before running back for boards, the island has a way of keeping me outdoors and active every day. It’s not so much a means of exercise or training as it is a lifestyle.
I believe everyone can benefit from going off the beaten path, thinking outside “the box”, getting out of the gym, and into The Great Outdoors. Our surrounding environment is constantly changing and ever evolving, causing you to benefit from consistently having to challenge yourself in order to adapt and overcome nature’s obstacles. The seasons change, as does the weather, therefore, so do the workouts. In this way, nature keeps me balanced and never bored. Nature will keep you humble. Nature will challenge you and shape you into a better athlete, so get outside, climb mountains, dive for dreams, and make nature your gym.