There is no doubt that there is an opportunity to market health and fitness products to the outdoorsman. Social media is inundated with what is being now being called the “Outdoor Athlete” and the proof is in their Facebook posts, pics on Instagram and tweets depicting their daily workouts and hunting adventures. Companies like Wilderness Athlete provide supplements to help you both prepare and power through your hunt and Under Armour with their UA Hunt line will keep you warm, dry and stylish. To some this trend is motivating. To others, it is an annoyance. Some try to ignore them. I’m going to make a case why you should be joining them.
I had a conversation a few weeks back with Ken Swasey of Chasing Wild Creatures regarding this new breed of hunter (and the pics they post). An outdoorsman from the Pacific Northwest, Ken works extremely hard to prepare for his hunts but thinks there are a lot of men and women that turn a blind eye to using physical training to prepare for their hunting and fishing adventures. This fascinated me because owning and operating a company with the sole purpose of preparing people for their outdoor adventures, I wanted a better understanding of what he meant. From our perspective, if you are stronger, more flexible and have a high level of aerobic fitness, you are going to perform better in the field. It was right there that I understood what he meant. It was the difference between image and performance.
For every individual who looks like celebrity bow hunter and fitness junkie Cameron Hanes, there are probably 1000 more that could likely rest a beer can on their belly while leaning against an oak tree waiting for a gobbler to strut by within range. When they see pictures or video of a guy or girl running eight miles up a mountain with muscles ripped and shredded like a Greek statue, it’s a turnoff. The likelihood of those men or women ever taking the time (or having the time), energy and making a commitment to transform into a Mr. Hanes clone is virtually non-existent. For thousands of people, Hanes is an inspiration. For thousands more, it could potentially be a detriment to improving their fitness because they will never possess that kind of physique, so they either say why bother or write off the fitness component of hunting completely.
Oddly enough, the concept for our main training philosophy did not come from the back country. It didn’t come from the deer woods or the field. It came from the golf course. Eight years ago I was watching my colleague and friend Jeff Pelizzaro of 18 Strong train his clients which were almost exclusively golfers. What I noticed is that his clients (ages 16-70+) where flexible and they were strong (high levels of aerobic conditioning aren’t exactly a premium in golf) but they didn’t look like Tiger Woods. Many had bellies and almost all of them had the same physique of a person you might see in the aisle at the grocery store. That is when the light bulb went off; these people aren’t training to look good in a swimsuit. They are training to hit the ball further and play better golf.
The prototype client I used to create the Fit To Hunt brand was a whitetail hunter from Missouri who came to me and said “get me ready for an archery elk hunt.” We went to work building his core, leg and upper back muscles while prescribing lots of minutes on stair steppers and treadmills with high inclines. He left for the trip, shot a beautiful bull and raved about his conditioning. We have trained this same client six years and in that time he has improved his strength, aerobic fitness and flexibility all while being 60 pounds overweight. He likes to eat. In early 2014 he asked for help with his nutrition and has since dropped 50 pounds with about 10-12 to go until he hits his goal weight. This client just got back from a trip to Mexico and no one will accuse him of looking like the most physically fit guy at the pool. That isn’t his motivation and it isn’t his goal. What drives him first is performance followed closely by health and longevity (he has a wife, two kids and a thriving business so he wants to stick around). He does not fit the social media image of the “Athlete Hunter” and while he may not have the striking physique of the celebrity hunter athletes on outdoor TV, this client has to climb, carry packs, bend, twist, jump, crawl, push and pull when hunting. So do you.
Recently we helped Louie Mazzeo, owner and operator of Yo Buck Deer Mineral and Attractant with his fitness program. Louie quit smoking over a year ago on his own accord and in November decided to pick up the weights and improve his nutrition to improve both health and performance in the field. 26 pounds later he is has replaced smoking with weight lifting and has a goal to lose 7 more pounds. Knowing Louie, he could care less what you are or I think about how he looks in his swimming trunks. He is changing his life because he wants to perform better in the field. He also has a daughter he wants to be around for.
Our overarching goal is performance-based training. Do what we ask you to do and you will perform better in the field and the enjoyment factor of your hunts will skyrocket. We do have a confession to make: By following these programs, your health will also improve. It’s also possible your waistline will shrink and you will look and feel better. Our goal isn’t to make your butt look good in your camo (or a swimsuit). If that is your goal, we can work with you on that but know this: when we prescribe a plan for you, we are doing so to improve your ability to hunt, fish, hike, camp, chop wood, hang tree stands….just to perform better in the outdoors.
You may not look like the outdoor celebrity fitness guru but rest assured, you are an athlete hunter! You will have to do the same things they do and while you might not train like them, eat like them or have their motivation, don’t shy away from the movement. Train to be Fit To Hunt!
Want more info about our programs, partners and services? Shoot us an e-mail at Jeremy@fit2huntperformance.com or call 314-807-8634.