We seem to have lost our clarity and our simplicity. We’ve also lost a sense of practicality and any naturalness to it, when it comes to exercising.” – Author unknown
Part II of III Parts
So, what have we lost, and what have we gained? We’re now in a society where you no longer need to operate your body efficiently. Fitness is now a business. The only thing that can’t be passed on now is the motivation to start moving consistently, or can it?
In our past, in order to survive in a harsh and dangerous environment, man had to be able to perform a few things. At the top was anything physical like; possessing an ability to run, jump, balance, crawl, climb, lift, carry, throw, catch and hold things.
Are we able to now duplicate those attributes in our outdoor gym?
1. Run – Find a trail, walk, jog, run, or set up an obstacle course in your yard to get started. The distance you allot to get started is entirely up to your current physical level.
2. Jump – Using a jump rope or jumping over anything in your yard seems to be the best way to approach jumping.
3. Balance – Balance during stretching by lifting various body parts, riding a bicycle, walking or hiking on an uneven trail.
4. Crawl – Even though babies make it look easy, Army style crawling is far from easy. Use gloves and begin in a plank position, low on your forearms, with elbows on the mat and hands flat down. Lift up one arm and move it forward, keeping your body in a steady plank position that stays low to the ground. Drag your opposite leg and arm forward. Primarily you are working your core, abs, lower back, quads and shoulders. Crawling exercises are guaranteed to get you dirty. Several armed forces use the inverted crawl or aka the crab crawl as part of their basic entry test. Start on all fours with your belly to the ceiling, crab crawl for about 25 feet. This exercise tests your agility, core strength and upper-body endurance.
5. Throw – Using a medicine ball or a sandbag or even playing fetch with Fido, kids, frisbee, is a great way to get started.
6. Catch/JumpingJack/Side Straddle Hop – I’m now taking the liberty of substituting catching with the jumping jack. Using the jumping jack, aka the side-straddle hop; start with your legs spread evenly apart and hands by your side, then jump up in the air, hands going overhead, and then return to the start position with your feet together and the arms at your sides.
7. Hold Things – Lifting and holding a kid, dog, Home Depot buckets that you fill with sand, rocks, water.
As time moved on, more structure was added to how the military trained but, man still did the same type of movements such as walking, jumping, crawling, climbing, lifting and carrying heavy things.
If you watched any of the 9 Viking episodes on television you saw Ragnar, the Viking warrior and farmer and his band of merry men paddling across a body of water. All that paddling and ocean crossing aerobics; plus eating all that Omega 3 rich salmon, fruits and berries made them stronger than their counterparts.
When Ragnar and company arrived the Christians appeared to be more into preparing for the afterlife, than into training for the defenses of their homeland. Education was part of the Church. Cultivating the mind was way more important.
The sandbag workout chart below shows a total workout broken down by your upper, core, back, lower, and total body exercises. I purchased the poster on Amazon. Quick fit posters.com
First you start by warming your body up.
Then you add in a workout routine, like for example:
After this we move on to our River and sand obstacle course. More to follow in Part III.
ALL is then follow by a good cool down.
A trip down memory lane: I enlisted in the USAF in September of 1974, (tail end of the Vietnam war) the most, I believe we ran in basic was one to two miles at a time.
Our barracks were air conditioned and any PT (physical fitness) conducted was in the covered quad area; on a cement floor vs a grass or sand pit.
An Airman from a different flight while doing PT, suddenly drops dead; possibly as a result of the high humidity and Texas heat; and that was the end of our PT, for about a week or two. Air Force basic training back then was only six weeks long.
Without going into a story of how I ended up in the Army and later became a Drill Sergeant; let’s just say that physical fitness was now a different experience. The Army devoted an entire field manual to it; FM 21-20, Physical Readiness Training.
Fast forward a few years, to about 1980, and the Army introduces a new fitness test for its soldiers. One deemed more equitable for women with the focus on a soldier’s general fitness, health, and weight control.
It was supposed to require no equipment at all.
The Army’s first physical fitness test consisted of 5-events: the squat jumps, the sit-ups, the pull-ups, the push-ups, and the 300-yard run.
And now we took the test in a PT uniform (shorts/t-shirts) and what we used to call sneakers.
The training emphasized exercises that developed strength, muscular endurance, anaerobic and aerobic capacity, agility, and coordination.
Prior to this – the five events test looked like this: low crawl (40 yards), horizontal ladder/monkey bars (20 feet long), grenade throw (sometimes substituted for a 150-yard man carry, run, dodge and jump’ (agility run), and a 1-mile run.
While completing the test, soldiers were required to wear their combat uniform and boots.
Yes, for ages we ran in combat boots and no one complained about blisters, if the boots were properly laced and you wore two pairs of socks.
And then the PT test changed yet again; this time it was only to three events, sit-ups (an outdated exercise); push ups and two mile run.
No more assessment of a soldier’s ability to lift, carry, pull, and climb.
Critics of the APFT felt it was too easy, as it had little connection to the physical tasks actually required in combat.
The test now emphasized low intensity, cardio-respiratory exercise, whereas combat is most like anaerobic rather than aerobic exercise.
If you watched any of the 9 Viking episodes on television you’ll see that Ragnar, the Viking warrior and farmer was in far better shape when he arrived on said shores. All that paddling and ocean crossing aerobics certainly helped; and so did eating all that Omega 3 rich salmon, fruits and berries.
When Ragnar and company arrived the Christians appeared to be more into preparing for the afterlife, than into training for their defenses. Education was part of the Church. Cultivating the mind was more important.
In the past, in order to survive in a harsh and dangerous environment man had to know a few things. At the top of the list was anything physical like; ability to run, jump, balance, crawl, climb, lift, carry, throw, catch and hold things.
As time moved on, more structure was added to it all but, man still did the same type of movements such as walking, jumping, crawling, climbing, lifting and carrying heavy things.
My past recollections and Army PT history may not quite match your recollections but, I’m going for 90 percent accuracy. Plus, losing the extra fifteen pounds on butt and belly.