Couch potato or mean lean skinny fries, where do you sit on the bench? Lets take a look at a very unspoken subject I’ve been pondering for a while.
Since being a young schoolboy I’ve loved nothing more than donning my Hi-Tec Silver Shadows, packing a daysack and hitting the beach and trails till my legs drop off. So as you can guess I like fitness to a certain degree. With this mind, what I’m about to go through in this installment may sound a little biased, I suggest you take from it what you need and don’t let my opinion sway you from your normal daily routines.
We have all more than likely noticed that the Modern Military has a large quantity of athletic and strength conditioning involved into it’s training program. Basically this is required for our Armed Forces’ to meet the battle requirements that modern combat tours involve. Cardio, upper body, core strength etc all need to be maintained to an above average level for the individual to overcome combat related riggers. A good motto to keep in mind is “Train Hard, Fight Easy” and it nails down the whole point of the process.
So moving on, does a player who partakes in Airsoft/Milsim/Reenactment need to develop their individual fitness? My answer (opinion) is no, not with Airsoft anyway. Within that part of the sport you can essentially do whatever the hell you want, if that means just standing around doing short little sprints here and there then your natural body fitness is probably acceptable. On the other hand, if you want to literally be able to wear a fully kitted out Plate Carrier, Helmet and something like a heavy support weapon then average fitness is going to do maybe do you more harm than good. Milsim, well that’s a whole different ball game entirely! Doing accurate impressions with real steel gear, weighted out kit and playing like you’re really a member of CAG and MARSOC mean some active personal decisions are more than likely needed. If you’re like me and you want to be physically fit enough to meet the demands of any Airsoft field/game/event you walk onto then a good physical regime is well and truly needed. But, like I said, that’s my target and what you want to achieve is totally up to yourself.
Let’s assume for instance that you are wanting to achieve a similar target as me. You want to be able to pull yourself through a window at a FIBUA event, sprint the open cover geared-up and take aimed shots from an uncomfortable firing position. For this kind of fitness balance a good weekly rota of cardio and upper body is a must. Getting some trainers on and just going for a long walk on a weekend with the dogs can have an extremely beneficial impact of your general health and playing capability. Something I like to do, as weird as it sounds, is 10 incline press ups every time you frequent the toilet or if I’m at home I have a 10kg dumbbell sat in the bathroom. I used to struggle quite badly with upper body fitness so began doing five reps every lavatory visit then back to whatever I was doing. I also try to do a minimum of 15km a week running but that’s maybe a lot in comparison to the majority of people. On weekends a nice hill walk with some weight in a bag is going to help a lot more than just popping on the Xbox and blasting out COD for three hours. I do understand that people lead busy lives, the likelihood that you can fit extra fitness into a day-to-day regime may not be possible, but even a little is better than none. I can guarantee as a non-driver, and not owning a car, walking that half mile to the shop or into town and back adds extra points to healthier lifestyle. Try not jumping in the car for short trips all the time, get out in the air and open up those lungs. May even cut down on your weekly fuel expenses.
Now that’s just basic stuff, remember I’m just a normal Airsofter like the next guy and I don’t have any ‘PT’ qualifications under my belt. What works for me is knowing I can carry the gear and guns I want, without succumbing to fatigue at the end of a Game Day. I decided recently to take it up a notch and start doing specific ‘Combat Athlete’ styled training routines, very similar to what the Armed Forces instill but more civilian aimed and personalised. Within two weeks I started to notice that sprinting open cover became less arduous and the kit I played with felt lighter and less cumbersome. My concentration became more sustained for longer periods and my mood when ‘hanging out my hoop’ had dramatically improved. So basically… I’m playing better and I’m more happy whilst doing it. My motivation to get things done has improved 100% and the only aspect of my Airsoft life that could be contributed to this is my fitness/training routine.
How I approach my fitness in regards to Airsoft: I do a weekly regimen of mixed fitness from upper body workouts in my local gym, short to long distance walking and running, mixed terrains and with weight. Boot runs in trousers to get used to the in-game gear I use. Adding up the weight of my loadouts and matching it with the same weight in a daysack and ‘Core Strength’ workouts. In total I spend an hour a day minimum engaged in fitness, considering there’s 168 hours in a week and I sacrifice 7 of them… doesn’t seem too much of a burden as it sounds. Not forgetting the fact being healthier also benefits your life outside Airsoft, of course.
I’ll try not to take you in circles too much in the article, but think back to that first question. “Does a player who partakes in Airsoft/Milsim/Reenactment need to develop their individual fitness?” I don’t think anyone but the individual involved can give the definitive answer to that. A player must take it upon himself to realize: If their personal goals within the sport honestly need a better level of average fitness to be achieved. Sounds cryptic I know, end of the day you get out of this sport what you put into it. If I costs me 7 hours p/w and it’s makes my game thoroughly more enjoyable, consider it time well spent.