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Fitness and Training

One of the major factors affecting your enjoyment and learning during your participation on a BOSS course will be your degree of physical fitness. We strongly encourage all of our students to arrive in good physical condition and offer the following words of wisdom as you consider how to best prepare for your course.

Fitness on Field and Explorer courses

Engaging in a physical fitness and conditioning program prior to the course will increase your success in adapting to the stresses your body will endure. You will be hiking through rugged canyons and mountains at elevations ranging from 3,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level, often while cold, hot, hungry, thirsty or just plain tired. Being in better shape means your body will be less physically stressed.

Cycling, running, swimming, and other aerobic activities are good ways to prepare for your course. Strength is not as important an asset as endurance and mental attitude. On many occasions, we have seen a person in good condition with a super attitude outperform an athlete in peak condition but with a rotten attitude. Attitude, however, is not easily quantified, whereas physical endurance is. For this reason, we ask our students to participate in a test called the "Cooper 1.5 mile run" before they arrive at BOSS as well as during Orientation on all Field and Explorer courses. Please use this information prior to your arrival to gauge your aerobic standing.

    The Cooper 1.5 Mile Test    
13 - 19
20 - 29
30 - 39
40 - 49


Altitude adjustment:

Altitude adjustments for 5000' and higher: 
5000' - add 30 seconds 9000' - add 75 seconds
6000' - add 40 seconds 10000' - add 90 seconds
7000' - add 50 seconds 11000' - add 105 seconds
8000' - add 60 seconds 12000' - add 120 seconds

Please Note: This test is for evaluation purposes only and is not designed to eliminate you from the course. However, students who place poorly on this test have a tendency to hold the group back and suffer physical stresses more than others. If you are not in good aerobic shape and can't place in the "good" category above, you should consider postponing your BOSS course until you have raised your level of endurance. We suggest this for your safety and for the benefit of the group as a whole. Explorer course students should also be in good shape, since most of the Explorer Courses involve hiking. However, since there is no Impact phase at the beginning of the course, the physical stress involved is a little different.

Fitness on Skills and Training courses

For those familiar with the health and fitness considerations of our Field and Explorer courses, you may wonder about our Skills and Training courses. Do you need to be in great shape for, say, the 7-day Primitive Living course?

While our Skills courses occur in basecamps (which means that we won't be hiking nearly as much as Field course students), you should be ready and willing to participate in day hikes and overnight stays in other locations. This means that your personal belongings should be portable and you should be willing to hike with your gear through rugged terrain. Some routes involve steep climbs/descents, travel through knee-high rivers, and bushwhacking, but most of these hikes are under 2 miles in length. As long as you are comfortable with the possibility of backcountry travel, and are in good enough shape to handle moderate hiking, you should be fine on a Skills course. 

Training courses are typically lecture-format and are held on BOSS's property in Boulder, Utah. As a result, fitness is not as much of an issue. The exception is the Outdoor Educator course, as it is held in the wilderness areas outside of Boulder. For this course, you should be prepared to hike so that lessons can be delivered in an environment relevant to the lessons. The hiking, however, is not nearly as intense as on our Field or Explorer courses. We do recommend, though, that you complete the Cooper Fitness Test at home prior to the course to help you evaluate your ability hike comfortably on the trail.

Please contact our office for any information about the above or for any concerns you may have regarding your health and fitness.