Life’s a risky business: why you might need more danger in your life…

Why would anyone do anything dangerous deliberately? Why run any sort of risk? Why not play it safe?

The answer of course is to be found in the payoff.

So what’s in it for us, if we throw convention to the wind, our cares into the air, and dare to try something which we might actually fail at?

When we were younger many of us liked to lay it all on the line when the opportunity arose: climbing a tall tree, venturing into a field with a bull, playing games we really shouldn’t in derelict buildings – all just for the thrill.

But in a world increasingly obsessed with ‘’elf and safety’, finding anything remotely risky to do when getting physical is not an easy task these days.

Today, as adults, we’ve had “Is it safe?’ hammered into us to the extent that our natural instinct to take a calculated risk for worthwhile reward has been all but squashed. We now get our ‘kicks’ cheaply and second-hand from films, television and video games.

All these imposters are designed to fire up the ‘fight or flight’ adrenalin kick we all so enjoy, and are our sterile and safe modern world’s way of offering a cheap thrill without ever actually laying safety on the line. We all yearn to be scared from time to time – why else would film studios rake in huge profits producing films that are frankly designed to do nothing else but scare the pants off us?

It should come as no surprise that the stars of sports such as Formula One, Moto GP and boxing are some of the best paid and most revered. Take the driver out of a racing car and control it remotely from the pits and it simply doesn’t have the same allure. We love it that our hero’s prepared to pay the ultimate price for the glory, because at heart we ourselves would die for the same thrill.

 NASA never strictly needed to send a man to the moon to achieve its scientific objectives. But NASA did need to pay for all the fun and games it was planning. To do that, it needed money – and lots of it. The only way to persuade the taxpayers of America to stump up the billions of dollars required to get them into space was to sell the general public a dream; so they captured their imagination by offering up modern day gladiators – heroes prepared to risk it all on top of a 111 metre, 129 tonne, 15,700 mph bomb.

Taking an ‘Instinctive’ approach isn’t about being shot at the moon or even climbing up the outside of a tower block without a rope; it’s not about taking foolish risks just for a kick, but it is about stretching your mental and physical limits.

Fun risk and reward activities – not exercise

Any physical activity undertaken with the true spirit of Instinctive Fitness involves not only some sort of movement but a challenge: an element of risk and reward that is controlled and exciting rather than laborious or dangerous.

  • How about the ‘rush’ of sprinting down a steep hill faster than you feel comfortable with, risking a tumble?
  • How about pull ups hanging from a foot bridge above a small stream – no danger but the very real risk of getting cold and wet.
  • What about a game of paintball with a sizable forfeit. Imagine the intensity of the experience when the consequences of being hit are cleaning the victor’s car inside and out!

Instinctive training should, wherever possible, have an element of risk, reward and exhilaration, although in reality no real danger. Any form of exercise should leave you feeling better than before you started. Not just because it’s a better way of gaining any fitness goals you may have, but because we want our brain to keep dragging us back – associating exercise with pleasure not pain.

There are many other activities that are great for enjoying in themselves and provide fantastic fitness benefits. Obviously, unless you’re very rich and have plenty of ‘play time’, some of these are unlikely to form part of your daily activities but, should you get the chance, they fall right into the Instinctive Fitness ethos.

  * tree climbing * skateboarding * paintballing * mountain biking * wild swimming * go-cart racing * bouldering * martial arts * ‘capture the flag’ * rock jumping * friendly wrestling * British bulldogs * free-running * surfing * white water canoeing * paddle boarding * teasing crocodiles *

Just kidding with the last one – but you get the point. If you can think of any others, let us know at the bottom of this article.


 The Fight or Flight Experience

Obviously it’s not wise to replicate the conditions that set off a true fight or flight mechanism just for training’s sake. However, by playing a psychological game, ‘Fight or Flight’ training actually replicates the exhilaration and heightened physical response called for in times of crisis.

We believe that allowing the body to run at its real maximum capacity for just a minute or two at a time provides a host of hea benefits over the long term. Giving the adrenal gland the chance to switch into full flow and giving the body a chance to operate at flat-out maximum enables the adrenalin to shut off completely when we don’t need it, allowing the body to relax properly afterwards.

That dynamic movement back and forth between meaningful challenge and contented relaxation is where all the fun and bliss in life to be found. Have you found your balance point yet?