Being a tree climber is very relatable to a runner, gym rat, swimmer, even a musician, dancer, or painter. It’s relatable to the first group we mentioned because it’s a matter of endurance, physical strength, and overall health and fitness. It’s relatable to the second group mentioned in that the more you practice your skills the better you will become.
In our busy seasons we are honing our craft 5, if not 7 days a week. We’re pushing our bodies for 8-10 hours a day. Hopefully, if we’re going about it in a healthy way we are at the top of our game, our bodies are working at their highest level and our minds are firing quickly. ?? Then the off season hits. Obviously skills and physical abilities don’t vanish over night, but you will start to see changes in your body and work flow if you just come to a total standstill. Many of us want to think there’s just nothing comparable to tree climbing, and as a career, you may be right, but as a physical activity or skill we’re looking to perfect there are actually a lot of things outside of the tree world that will help keep us in tip top condition for when we enter back into the trees, hopefully as soon as possible!
Some of the things that we’re going to cover would be great to incorporate into your day to day or weekly schedule even when work is busy as a way to switch things up for your body and mind. Let’s see what some of our options are.
There are various different types and levels of practices out there. Get signed up for a class at your local studio, find an instructive app or tune into YouTube. Yoga is a great exercise but more than anything it enhances your range of motion and flexibility, which is a perk when you find yourself in an awkward position on a limb, trying to make a cut. When your muscles are tight you are far more limited in your body. Yoga is also great for strengthening your balance, a huge advantage while out on limb walks. A consistent practice will also get your blood flowing, circulating it better through out your body, which is a huge plus for health overall.
Rock climbing may be the closest thing you will find to tree climbing. It shares a lot of the same gear and techniques: rope, harness, carabiners, knots. If you live near mountains or cliffs than your options are endless, but if you find yourself on flat land in less than ideal temps search for an indoor rock gym. Here you will be able to take a class that will teach you the basics and then allow you to climb their walls, which can sometimes be as high as 55 feet! Quickly you will notice the different muscles you are using and that hand eye coordination along with problem solving plays a huge part. To build strength and enhance your core try out bouldering, which are short routes climbed with no rope that rely less on endurance and more on powerhouse moves and technique.
To keep your general strength up and push your cardio, hit the gym or use what you have at home. The options of equipment may feel overwhelming but most have good instructions on the machines or there are staff to help. If at home, again, the options online and social media are endless, just be sure to listen to your body. Don’t try to fit it all in in 1 day. Mix up your routine, which keeps your body guessing and doesn’t strain or put all the focus on one part of your body. As much as you think you want huge biceps, throw a washing machine over your head, and be able to dead lift 500 pounds, when is this going to come into play in the trees? Think about a typical work day, what you would be doing and working in your body, and build that into a gym routine.
Yep, in a long list of things to do to make you mind and body stronger we suggest you take a full day to do nothing. What will this do? Give your body and mind time to recover, relax, fully understand and process what’s happened the previous 6 days, and be refreshed to do it all over again. Burn out is real. And when that happens injuries happen. Your goal every day should be to be as alert as possible. Your goal should be to feel as good as possible. You can’t do that if you’re beat down.
Strengthening your career isn’t always about the body. Your mind is a great tool to help you work smarter, not harder. Hire a business coach, someone who understands numbers, marketing, taxes, goal setting, and more. Do they need to know about your industry? It would be helpful, but a good business coach knows how to read your numbers and walk you through what’s working and what’s not in your business. Imagine figuring out how to save 10% more every week in your savings account or how to cut yearly costs by 15%. Imagine finding a solution to better time management or how to lock in more sales. Perhaps you need help with advertising suggestions or where to find clients. A good business coach can help you get closer to your goals in various different ways.
What you don’t know you can learn, especially in this day and age when information is not at a shortage. Read a book, read a blog, watch a YouTube video, tune into a podcast, or attend a class. (We would like to mention, please make sure you are learning from a professional, someone who is qualified to be talking about the practices they are. There are many self proclaimed "know it alls" in the tree industry. Fact check EVERYTHING before you put it into practice. The safety and life of you, your crew, and clients are at risk if you do not take the time to be a true professional and learn correctly.) What do you want to learn more about? Climbing systems, Tree ID, Plant Health Care, safety practices, proper pruning practices, how to run your own business, equipment, knots, gear?
We have YEARS worth of free information right on our blog and YEARS worth of free videos on our YouTube. Feel free to start there! Keep your mind growing.
Hopefully after this you are inspired to take 1-2 of these ideas and give them a try. Always be looking to progress. Don’t get so stuck in your own box that you forget to look outside of it for ways to grow! If you have any activities that you find helpful to keep your body and mind engaged during an off season drop them in the comments below!