Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Many days, this is still an aspirational workout.

An example of No Quit Fit's program
I’ve requested and received a lot of workout advice over the years. Outside a gym in Pittsburgh, one person I knew told me the best workout just boils down to one that you like to do.

“Huh?” I looked at him not sure whether he was kidding or not.

“Just do that.”

I still wasn't convinced.

A year ago on my way back from vacation, I listened to a podcast about working out in the natural environment and all the advantages for your blood  pressure, stress levels and general health.

Sounds of birds chirping, brooks babbling and trees blowing in the wind quickly evoked images of the woods, but what I liked most was the sound of happy voices.  I liked the idea that there would be a group, people to guide me through the woods. Now that I’m living in Minnesota, I figured there’s plenty of nature around to take advantage of.

I tried looking at and found yes there were groups that meet outdoors to workout, but my experience with was never consistent. I was willing to pay for something that had structure.

I searched the internet and found more than I bargained for.

No Quit Fit is run by Chris Mielke and Sarah Phenow, military and law enforcement trainers, respectively, which I found off-putting at first. However, I was assured that all levels are welcome and you could work at your own pace.

The group I’m in meets at 530 am. Sharp.
(Photo courtesy of No Quit Fit)

(This is a perfect for me, because I am up at that time anyway and have always looked for someone to talk to at that early hour. When I lived in Burlington Vermont, I was often first in line for Starbucks on Church Street which opened at 5am. The homeless shelter let out about that time as well and the line would grow. I befriended many of those standing in line with me. Some would get a free cup of joe, some paid. We came to know each other. Whenever I was out shopping with the family or just walking down Church Street, inevitably I’d hear from somewhere, “Hey John! Over Here. Hello!” It’s that kind of place - but so is Minnesota.)

Anyway, as most of us who live here know, the parks in Minnesota are often over the top. No Quit Fit meets at Roseville Central Park among other places. Roseville is the one I go to, and it’s filled with the usual tennis courts and swing sets, but also an unusual amount of trees, a small waterfall which leads into a lake and plenty of space to run around.

When I arrive at 530 in the morning, the parking lot is usually already full. When there was snow on the ground in the winter, the parking lot was still full. In the winter, many like it even better because the fields provide the right mix of terrain, the snow provides extra cushion and running up and down the hills keeps everybody warm.

Today, the workout was introduced on a whiteboard. It was called Flip the Script. No breaks. Continuous movement. A little running in the middle. Nearly sixty minutes in all.

I said to Jerry my workout partner that the workout would have to be more of an aspiration than actual workout. I still have trouble with pushups not to mention several other things on the morning’s list of exercises. He ignored  my concerns.

I went ahead and did the best I could. No one wants to be the one person who can’t. That’s another advantage of the community that comes with the workouts. The discipline is contagious. Most are above my level, some way above who come to workouts carrying rucksacks which is essentially a backpack with a metal plate in it.

“You’ll get there,” I remember Sarah telling me when I first arrived.

I didn’t believe this at first. But after catching myself commenting that the workouts seemed to be getting easier, I had to smile.

One day last week, the other head trainer Chris had on his shirt a quote often attributed to an anonymous navy seal because of its usefulness to the military. It actually is the ancient Greek poet Archilochus who penned it:

“We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

This is true enough for me. I was able to catch myself from falling down a flight of stairs because of my training. This idea seems to explain a lot of things, not just workouts.

No Quit Fit is billed as the only year-round outdoor fitness program in the Twin Cities. Information can be found on their website: