Fitness specialist and adventure travel enthusiast Marcus Shapiro has a lofty way of referring to adventure trip itineraries. He likes to call them "dreams manifested": summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro, perhaps, or scaling Yosemite's Half-Dome.
But the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if you're not in proper physical shape. We've all been there, cursing yourself for falling to the back of the pack and then nursing those aching, rarely used muscles back at your hotel.That's where Shapiro comes in. His year-old company, the Marietta, Ga.-based Fit for Trips , is like a virtual personal coach that whips you into shape for your journey. Fit for Trips provides a customized exercise regimen tailored to your itinerary, whether you're tracking gorillas in Rwanda or hiking Machu Picchu (http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/Machu_Picchu/), and feedback from fitness experts along the way to help you track your progress. Shapiro is already partnering with some top tour operators, including AdventureWomen, The Wayfarers, Thomson Safaris, and Terra Incognita.
Here's how it works: You'll first enter your info, including trip type, current level of fitness and workout timeline (anywhere from 4-12 weeks) into the website's portal. Depending on the level of support you need, you can communicate with coaches via e-mail, phone calls, or cyber meetings. As you progress, coaches can adjust your workouts and exercises accordingly, or scale back if necessary.
In addition, you'll receive how-to videos as well as resources for recording your workouts and tracking your progress, and you can even download exercises onto your iPod video. But don't let all the high-tech extras fool you: There's a wealth of expertise and real-life adventure and fitness junkies behind it all. Besides Shapiro, himself a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and former competitive adventure racer, the team includes a seven-time U.S. Whitewater Canoeing Champion and a former U.S. National Team swimming coach.
As Shapiro explains, a guiding philosophy behind Fit for Trips is a concept called specificity of training, which means that even if you're in excellent running shape, you might very well be sucking wind when you're sea kayaking through three-foot swells.
"You might get a tour operator and ask, 'How do I get in shape for this trip?' and they might say, 'Get on a treadmill for an hour three days a week,' and that's not good enough," Shapiro says. "We look at the demand of the trip. With Machu Picchu, for example, there's lots of stairs and ascents, you can't just walk steep stairs and expect to handle those, plus a steep grade, without training and specific exercises."
Fit for Trips packages start at $49.95; ShermansTravel.com readers get a 15 percent discount through July 18 by entering promo code Sherman. www.fitfortrips.com
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