I know right? Fitness, enlightenment, mud and New Jersey – who would have thought those words would ever go together in a sentence!
In the past year I’ve participated in two mud races, the Warrior’s Dash in Northern California and the Tri-State Tough Mudder in New Jersey. Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. The idea of them sounded fun and living in NYC, I rarely get to do exercise training in the outdoors. And this last Tough Mudder was definitely fun and crazy! Climbing up 20 feet mud hills, holding on for dear life swinging on slippery monkey bars above pools of freezing water, even crawling through swamps of mud as electrical wires are dangling above you?! I learned a couple life lessons through this past race: the first being that your body is always stronger than you think it is and most importantly, that mud races build community and a pathway to fitness enlightenment.
So here I was hanging out with 6 co-workers running 13 miles through mud while toughing through 20 plus obstacles. Little did I know that after 4 hours of grueling exercise, I would have a new handful of friends I could call brothers and have my faith restored in humanity.
(Team Gee Whiz .. with Hand of Saruman Faces)
I’ll be honest, part of me thought that I could rely on my individual skills and training to get through the obstacles, but I was quickly proven wrong. I can’t tell you how many mud hills I tried climbing on my own, just to slip and fall back down or the number of walls that were too high for me to climb. However, any doubts of failing these obstacles were quickly put aside when I realized my friends were there to help lift me up, lay down and create a chain of bodies to climb a mud hill or even carry me on their back for 50 yards. So many times I climbed up walls and mud hills only to find that there was a random stranger waiting at the other side cheering me on, helping me back down or grabbing my arm to support me before I fell.
(I was serious, my friend Charlie literally carried me on his back for 50 yards!)
And then I thought, what if exercise and fitness could always be this way. Some folks have found free, creative and consistent ways to work out and stay healthy with friends and loved ones. However, for most folks this just isn’t a reality. Instead many, including myself, have accepted the reality of paying $100-200 for elite gym/training memberships or paying for a gym whose lackluster services do nothing to motivate you into better health. I’ve got to believe that there is a better solution out there that can get the majority of people invested in building communities and a society of better health, fitness and wellness. When we figure it out it’ll truly be a day of enlightening fitness.
Look out for our next post: Moving the World with Fitness.