When I try something new that I love, I can’t stop, and I won’t stop talking about it. This week, my coworkers, my fiance, my pals, and the Starbucks barista have all been hearing about the latest workout Molly and I tried. It’s an outdoor workout where getting dirty is a badge of honor, temperature and precipitation are never a deterrent, and gym equipment is obsolete. A workout where participants both brave and use the elements for better physical and mental health.
Elemntl Fitness was started by Kevin Wimmer. Kevin was working a job with a grueling travel schedule, and was a little over it. When he was home on the weekends, Kevin would take his dog out to hike and play at Woodland Mound Park. During these excursions, Kevin started finding opportunities to “exercise” by using what was available in the environment. He told a few friends about it and they asked to tag along. So, Kevin put together a workout and the people loved it. Realizing that he may be onto something, he decided to take what he was doing for himself and his friends, and open it up to a larger audience. Thus, Elmntl Fitness was born.
Molly and I checked out his Saturday morning class last week. There was a group of about 20 people there that were extremely welcoming, encouraging, and happy to show us the ropes. We did a circuit of exercises. Kevin started class with an explanation of each exercise and then let us go, starting wherever we wanted. Molly and I started with deadlifts, using rocks (big rocks) that Kevin had retrieved from the ravine. After deadlifts, we used these rocks to do farmers carries, and then burpee push-ups. Next, we threw logs (large logs) on our shoulders and did lunges. After that, we did pull-ups and ab-work using playground rings. Then elevated push-ups and then monkey bars. Sidenote, if you haven’t done monkey bars since you were a kid you should go try-now. So hard and so fun (says Mer, not Mol). Finally, we ended with backward squat walks which took us back to the rocks and we started it all again until 50 minutes was up.
Every class Kevin does is different. His focus is on functional movements and adaptability. The environment doesn’t create perfect, smooth rocks for us to deadlift. Instead they’re rugged and jagged and sometimes it requires a few attempts to get the right grip. This is also true of life. As Kevin puts it, everything around us is constantly changing. Kevin’s classes help participants practice embracing that change, leveraging imperfections, and adapting to the environment.
Things I loved about Elmntl Fitness:
The people. There is clearly a strong comradery between the participants. Everyone was cheering each other on, and I felt like we were all in it together. It reminded me a little of two-a-days for sports in high school. They were super intense and hard, but you had a team to support you through it.
Being outside. We simply are not outside enough. Especially in winter. It felt so good to start my day and my weekend with fresh air. Kevin said it’s even cooler at the 6AM morning classes as most of the workouts (this time of year) are done in the dim morning light with deers watching. No better way to ease into your day.
The unique twist on exercise. I do farmers carries probably 2-3 times a week at the gym with kettlebells. It’s effective, but it gets boring, and I always know what to expect. In contrast, when I was doing farmer carries at Elemtnl–carrying an uneven rock up a muddy hill–I really had to cognitively focus and be present.
Kevin. Kevin is a rockstar. He somehow managed to run from station to station assisting and adjusting everyone all at once. He is a fantastic mix of encouraging and supportive and challenging (he’ll push ya). What I also loved was that he provided variations for every exercise so they were accessible for all levels of fitness. Fine, sometimes I skipped the push-up while doing burpees.
Kevin offers classes almost 365 days of the year and has only canceled class twice in the last year for weather. A few times in 2018, the group did partner snow workouts(think: pulling someone up a hill on a sled) which we’re definitely checking out next time it snows (hopefully in 2019).
Kevin also has an app which is called Fitness Anywhere. We haven’t tried the app yet, but the concept is that you can workout anywhere, anytime, with whatever you have around you. We’ll check it out and report back.
This would be a great workout for you if you want to try something different, you’re looking for a supportive group to workout with, you need more time outside (all of us), and you’re willing to get dirty and laugh at yourself. Let us know if you check it out, and what you think!