Keeping Up The Good Fight

Jeremy Koerber demonstrating the one-arm row. Both weight and reps can be increased. No dumbbell? Try a jug of milk or a can of paint. Almost anything will do.

by Terry Wieland

Much as we might try to minimize it, hunting is essentially a physical activity.  It involves walking, climbing, lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing, crouching (often), jumping (occasionally), and—rarely, but sometimes most importantly—dodging.

As we all get older (inevitably), fatter, weaker, and more fragile, most of us try to either minimize the effort required in daily life—usually to minimize pain in deteriorating joints—and find ourselves downing various pharmaceuticals, which have sometimes debilitating side effects.

Obviously, the activities of the first paragraph are completely at odds with the effects of the second.  The trick, as we get older, is to minimize the second in an attempt to remain capable of the first.

For the record, I am now well into my eighth decade and, while life has generally been kind, there have been a few physical setbacks.  Between backpacking in the mountains, running marathons, and making a few miscalculations, such as running down a horse trail in the Bitterroots, the physical ailments have added up.  As a result, I’ve had a hip replacement (arthritis), major shoulder surgery (rotator cuff, bone spur, detached labrum), and, most recently, chronic bicep tendonitis in the other (supposedly good) shoulder.

The squat was popular many years ago, then condemned as damaging, now appreciated once again. But, again, proper form is essential: Balanced, weight on heels, butt out.

Throw in a genetic tendency to be overweight and a complete disability to resist bread pudding, and you see the problem.

I mention all this, not to gain sympathy, but to define the pulpit from which I presume to speak.

After the hip replacement three years ago, no longer able to run to keep my weight down, it has been a struggle to find ways to exercise properly.

Anyway, the first rule is, it’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape, and the key to this is to maintain a certain level of overall fitness.  It’s fine to specialize if you are looking forward to, say, hunting elk with a bow in Colorado, or plowing through shoulder-high grass in South Dakota in pursuit of pheasants.  But what should you do, week after week throughout the year, to maintain a base level?

To answer that, I consulted Jeremy Koerber of StayFitToHunt. Jeremy is a professional trainer who also has a website (www.stayfittohunt.com) and offers videos and other programs aimed at specific activities.  He’s a life-long hunter himself, with rifle, shotgun, and bow and, as I described in my first piece a few weeks ago, disgustingly fit.

Jeremy’s three basics?

“You need to push, pull, and have a leg-centric exercise,” he told me.  “Not everyone has access to a gym, with its equipment, so here are three you can modify to suit your own situation.

“I like to do one-arm rows with a dumbbell, but you can use any weight, like a jug of milk or can of paint.  Do 8-12 repetitions each side, three times.”