Think outside the box.

School is where we’re told to go to develop. It’s where we’re supposed to acquire intellect, skills, subject matter expertise, and efficient processes. Does it actually work? That’s a separate conversation. The point is, our education system is a mechanism that was created for acquiring ability. The real world is where education is put to the test. All that we were supposed to have learned gets its use outside the place it was supposed to have been acquired. Fitness is no different.

The gym is for development. Effective fitness training improves strength, speed, stamina, power, flexibility, coordination, agility, respiratory/metabolic endurance, balance, and accuracy. Our physiology and neurology both respond to efficient training. That is to say; the race car and the race car driver are becoming more effective.

I’ve spent the majority of the last dozen years of my life in a box (Crossfit gym), if you deduct the time I’ve been asleep. In this time, I’ve known and trained many fitness fanatics. Fitness fanatics are an interesting breed in that they are obsessed with acquisition, but allocate little time for use. They are similar to that school addicted friend we all have with seven degrees and four hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt. If you spend enough time with these people you eventually start wondering, “When and how are you going to use all this?”

Last week, I was hanging 400 feet off the ground on Dozier Dome in Yosemite. I was roughly three and a half hours into a multi pitch trad climb; four pitches in with minimal water, no food, and 100 degree sun on my back. I was beginning to fatigue mentally, even more than physically. I was at a place in the climb where I needed to traverse away from the crack I had been climbing, over to an area of rock with lots of texture, but minimal holds. With a tendu right hand grip on a bad drywall patch sized nub, I transitioned both my feet out of the crack onto a part of the wall with nothing but texture. It was like standing on eighty grit sandpaper with one left palm shoved between two pieces of granite, and a mostly opened but flexed hand. As I shifted my weight, my left foot slipped, and then my right. In an instance, I was hanging solely by my left hand’s crack grip. An eternal moment later, I pulled myself back to the crack, regulated my heart through deep breathing, assessed a better foot transition, and then climbed on.

Fifteen or so minutes after, I finished my fourth pitch. I was on a six inch ledge in a position that I could “rest” before resetting gear. I took a quick moment to appreciate my grip strength as it was the only thing that kept me from testing the equipment and the competency of my fellow climber that had set it.

Don’t miss an opportunity to play sand volleyball at your girlfriend’s family reunion because you’re in the box training agility. Don’t miss the opportunity to try wake boarding with your brother-in-law because you’re in the box trying to “work a weakness”. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk your son down the Paint Creek Trail before he goes to bed because you “must” finish the supplemental strength. And if you ever have the opportunity to climb a mountain, work up the nerve.

Use your fitness. Test your education. Think outside the box. If you never take these opportunities, you may end up rich in fitness, but poor in experience with a whole host of student debt. Find a community that will help forge your fitness and encourage your experience.

-Bradley Berlin

Maven Fitness
328 South Street
Rochester, MI

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