Absolute Michigan got a taste of a new wave in outdoor fitness with EcoTrek Fitness last week. EcoTrek Fitness is a West Michigan company that just launched a program in Traverse City. Sarah Carden & I were lucky enough to get a sneak preview last week from EcoTrek founder Cari Draft and Traverse City series leader Georg Schluender.
With the EcoTrek Fitness motto in mind, “integrating your workouts with nature”, we combed our closet for workout outfits and met Cari and Georg on the trails behind at the Grand Traverse Commons. Cari & Georg handed us our resistance bands and we were off into the trees for a session on a beautiful spring day.
As we trotted down a tree-lined path, Cari explained, “When most people think of outdoor exercise, they think of jogging. And that can turn a lot of people off. EcoTrek uses nature and man-made ‘props’ to get in a great workout.”
Right after explaining this, she stopped us on a wooden bridge above a picturesque creek. We wrapped our resistance bands around the handrails and used them for exercises that worked the arms and legs. The exercises were low- intensity but worked a surprising amount of muscles in our arms, legs and core.
Each session lasts for 75 minutes and take place at a variety of days and times to help fit into all kinds of schedules. They even have single-session drop-in rates so you can try it out with no committment.
Cari, who is an ACE certified fitness trainer with an additional outdoor certification in a Nike training program, is excited to be expanding her program to Northern Michigan but has been careful not too expand too fast despite its popularity. Her website boasts that if you’re in West Michigan, you’re never more than 15 minutes from an EcoTrek Fitness workout.
With EcoTrek Fitness series available throughout western Michigan in places like Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo and Muskegon (and many more), Cari has been careful to keep the same elements in every session no matter where you are. The sessions run year-round in the sun, rain, sleet and snow.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Cari says before we stop to stretch on a picnic table. “Being out in bad weather can make for a surprisingly fun experience. On rainy days, I usually find myself jumping in puddles. There’s really nothing better than using the outdoors as your gym.”
Once our session ended, we were hooked on the EcoTrek workout. As people who would much rather cycle, hike or hit the basketball court then step into a hot, stinky gym, Absolute Michigan had a blast using our backyard as a gym and Cari and Georg were great. In fact, they did what this writer thought was nearly impossible, made an organized workout with a professional fitness instructor fun.