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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: Extreme gardening could be new fitness craze

Ammi Midstokke

There’s been a growing trend in cross training and sports that involves all kinds of athletic feats that both amaze and confound me. That being said, I seem to challenge my motor skills by merely setting one foot in front of the other without causing some sort of cataclysmic catastrophe.

Thus, it behooves me and my pride to not attend Pilates, zumba, or acro-yoga until I’ve developed some basic gross-motor skills to at least reduce the likelihood of public embarrassment.

For this reason, and because food is involved, I put a garden in my yard. That and because once I was checking out this lady’s guns at the store and asked, “CrossFit?” and she said, “Landscaper.” Remember when everyone wanted Michelle Obama arms? There has to be a correlation between that and her White House garden.

I started this year’s training regimen by having a load of soil dropped off in a ridiculously inconvenient location in my yard – on my front lawn about 2 feet from the garden. This would normally be fine except there was a 6-foot high fence between the lawn and garden. The direct route was down some stairs, over the strawberry patch, around the fire pit, past the red ant torture mound and to the other side.

That brings us to the infinite possibilities of yard work for outdoor fitness. Yardwork does not have a 6 a.m. step class that lasts an hour. It has a dynamic and ceaseless task list that is never, ever, ever ending.

Moving the dirt meant moving the fence which meant using a lot more muscles and swear words than I typically do on a Sunday morning. By the end of my dirt-moving class, I was sure I’d be on the next Strong is the New Skinny poster.

Only I wouldn’t have time for that because while I was moving the dirt, I recognized the desperate need for weeding in the strawberry beds. I spent the next hour on my hands and knees doing some sort of Jane Fonda routine, only I was wearing wellies instead of spandex.

By then it was time for some electrolyte hydration in the form of lemonade (sports drink of choice by the American Society for Gardening Fitness). Proper hydration is key to yard training success. Some athletes may prefer beer, but last time I tested this method I ended up growing flowers in the garden and tomatoes on the lawn.

Weeding the strawberry patch also meant discovering a new population of rocks (which breed like rabbits, apparently) that needed relocation. And so the day continued: moving rocks, pushing wheelbarrows, pulling roots, climbing stairs, swatting flies and breaking a sweat in the sunshine.

By the end of the day, I felt like I’d run a marathon on all fours while pulling a plow. I flopped into a chair on the porch in a pile of dirt and grit and worm waste, exhausted.

So the next time someone invites you to join a CrossFit class, I recommend seeing if they’ll pay you to come work in their yard instead. You can play some dub-step music and throw a few muscle-ups in there for authenticity.

Outside, your gym is everywhere.

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