How to Feel Wild in the City

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As we launch our new locations and retreats for 2017, one question keeps cropping up: "Can we really do Wildfitness in a city?" In a nutshell, the answer is yes!

In this piece we look to our coaches for inspiration on how to feel Wild in the city.

Traditionally our retreats have, and continue to be, in fantastic locations that provide us with that break from hectic urban lives, noise and light pollution and the everyday hustle and bustle of commuting, traffic and being constantly online. However, we recognise that the other 51 weeks of our clients' year are in exactly this environment!

So we challenged ourselves: how do you get the movement nutrition while living in a city? We found that if we look at our environment from a different perspective then moving more closely to what our bodies expect can be easy and enjoyable, even in the city.

There are myriad opportunities to experience great movement lead by inspirational coaches. We have been under the skin of various cities during 2016, shunning tourist attractions for parks and woodland, giving open top buses a miss in favour of bicycles and kayaks and replacing museum visits with dance studios.

Here are some thoughts for do-it-yourself urban movement:

Chuck the guidebook - Step out of your comfort zone and don’t ask Siri for the best restaurants in the area or where the nearest park is - pop into the local deli or green grocer and ask for recommendations and you’re sure to find a hidden gem.

Get moving in your area - To identify a good spot you need to look at your environment from a movement perspective. Children are generally pretty amazing at this as it's very innate to them so if you need inspiration borrow a kid for the day or hire a Wildfitness coach - same difference!

Find your closest green spaces - These provide the perfect place to unwind, take a post work stroll or go for an exploratory run and see what presents itself. Our cities’ green spaces allow us to connect with nature and, even if this connection is just on a small scale, research has shown this to be highly beneficial to our health.

Look for opportunities - By this we mean find tree branches for brachiating, balancing and climbing, logs for lifting or walls for jumping and crawling on! You can practice skills independently or put them into a sequence.

Fight the fear - Your options are limited only by your imagination. Learning to create a bespoke session for yourself is part of the fun. If you have children then incorporate movement into your free time with them - I’m sure they’ll surprise you.

Take a minute - Create time for a biophilic moment (biophilia meaning our innate love for, and connection with, nature). We believe stopping and appreciating nature can sometimes be more important for us than the movement aspect of achieving balance.

Step away from the electronic device - We are often over stimulated and aroused by artificial stressors and visual landscapes. Sometimes intense exercise is not the answer to combat this; simply turning off is

Socialise - Bring a few friends to make for a fun, fitness filled get together

Get it in the diary - Find what works for you and do it as consistently as possible to find that balance between arousal/challenge and relaxation/recovery.

10 Tips to help you Workout in Winter

Sunset at 42 Acres, Somerset

Sunset at 42 Acres, Somerset

Sunset jogs around the park and rooftop yoga are no more now that the colder months are approaching and we know that finding motivation to exercise outdoors can be hard so our Head Coach Paul has some tips to make your workout a little more pleasant.

  1. Exposure for resilience - if we only venture into the outdoors under optimal conditions and weather we are giving our bodies a false sense of reality. The weather is changeable and the more we expose ourselves to it, within reason and with appropriate scaling, the more adaptable and resilient we become to it and as humans.

  2. Prep the body - before you rush out from the nice warm house straight into the cold for a run or movement session perform a few mobility drills in the areas you suffer with tension and tightness. Spinal waves (see 7) and rotations are great, as are hip, ankle and shoulder mobility drills, all common areas of restriction. This will decrease your chance of injury and done on a regular basis provide you with better range of motion.

  3. Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder - a lot of us suffer with emotional lows during the winter period, the answer is to get out as often as possible for your much needed SAD suppressor, vitamin D and then vigorous movement on top of this will add a nice endorphin kick into the mix to help you smile more.

  4. Eat clean - Help avoid the flu this winter and opt for foods high in vitamin C which will help boost your immune system. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables by the shovel load would be the best choice as they are low in sugar and also brimming with fibre along with other vitamins and mineral that are amazingly good for us.

  5. Relax in a magnesium salt bath - The best part about training outdoors is getting home and sinking into a nice hot bath to sooth aching muscles and help you relax into a state of pure bliss. Add some magnesium salts to really nourish your muscles.

  6. Regular movement snacks - Winter tends to be the time we sit the most: breakfast, commute, desk, lunch, desk, commute home, dinner, TV, lots of sitting...sound familiar? Add regular and varied movement into your day, especially in the spine and hips which suffer a lot from the seated posture. Do this for at least five minutes, five times a day on top of more formal sessions.

  7. You're as old as your spine - your spine is a masterpiece of engineering but needs regular stimulation and movement for it to maintain its amazing functionality. The 'use or lose it' saying is super relevant with the spine and when we lose the ability to extend, flex, rotate, laterally bend in the spine, it has a very significant impact on our lives. Stand, root your feet to the floor and sway your spine like a tree in all the mentioned plains of movement.

  8. Drink Bone Broth - Take a Flask of bone broth with you wherever you go. Bone broth is full of nutrients and will keep you warm on a evening run or workout session in the park. For vegetarians use 1 tablespoon of veg stock to 250ml of warm water chop up some spring onions and grate carrots and celery into it for a warming quick fix.

  9. Keep your senses about you - Avoid switching off to your environment and enjoy the sounds, smells, tactile sensations that nature's seasons provide us with. Scientific research has shown that heightened awareness and connection to nature has significant psycho-physical benefits which are all more important during the winter months.

  10. Enjoy what it is you're doing - What you choose to do with regards to your form of movement or exercise should be rewarding and enjoyable. If it's not then the chances of quitting are even higher during the winter. Dance, climb, try a martial art, parkour, whatever it is you want to find an enjoyable challenge for it to be sustainable and beneficial.

Bringing Back Play

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Play has been taken away from adults ­- or perhaps was never ours to own ­- but is something that we clearly miss.

I spend a fair amount of time with my kids on the beach in Oman. Ostensibly, this is to give them some fresh air, plenty of room to run around and a modicum of creativity when it comes to sand castle building. However, the real reason is far more selfish. It gives me the opportunity to play, under the guise of parenting. I sometimes notice that my grand designs for the ultimate fort are largely ignored by my children (3 and 6) but often look up to find them a hundred yards down the beach absorbed in something entirely different. A sample of one is never going to provide a rigorous approach but, as I look around the beach, I see plenty of mums and dads entirely fixated in the same way.

In the playground I find myself swinging from the monkey bars while my children are playing ‘it’ and at home I am building a Lego super­rocket while my children are stuffing bits of Lego into large, pink, plastic unicorns (whose psychotic electrical innards have thankfully long been destroyed).

Play has been taken away from adults ­ or perhaps was never ours to own ­ but is something that we clearly miss.

Play, in our early teens, became sports which became competitions and structure which became playless and performance focused. There is a great benefit from structured, team sports but it should not preclude play. Some adults continue to play by using their creative tendencies to write, paint and sculpt but the vast majority probably have a play deficit.

Perhaps there is nothing wrong with this and that we have matured to the point where we do not need to play any more. I clearly do not agree. Play ­ by which I mean free, unstructured mucking about ­ is a fine way of getting yourself into novel situations that demand an element of creativity. It could be building a den in the woods or creating new games on the fly but in each case it involves action, movement, creativity and fun.

We incorporate play into our sessions at Wildfitness. This might not be the explicit aim of a given session but the play element filters into many. The benefit of this approach that it immediately removes ideas of competitiveness and self-consciousness and gives our clients a license to be silly. It is pretty difficult to take yourself seriously when vaguely mimicking the movements of a crab walking backwards or copy­cating your partner doing cartwheels down the beach and play makes this perfectly acceptable.

We have our friend and play guru, Frank Forencich, to thank for these elements of what we do and how we do it.