Tag Archive for fitness and training tips

Meet Ash Dykes

We’re thrilled to be working with adventurer Ash Dykes on an exclusive challenge in Madagascar this September. Ash was the first person to traverse the length of Madagascar, covering 1,600 miles in 155 days. Now he’s heading back, but this time with Charity Challenge, giving you the opportunity to join him on this incredible adventure challenge.

Ash Dykes

What inspired you to first visit Madagascar?
At first, it was the fact that I hardly knew a thing about the island, I was curious. I then started to do my research and I was hooked by not only the beauty and diversity, but equally by the fact that over 80% of all wildlife and plant life is found nowhere else in the world. I knew that this would provide such a unique and exciting experience.

What was the toughest part of your journey through Madagascar?
Hmm there were many tough sections, but maybe in the Northern section where I faced at times impenetrable jungle, as I used my machete to try hack my way through. I’d cover only 1.5 miles in a 12 hour day at times!

You’ll be returning this September with Charity Challenge, what are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to be leading an expedition in one of the most beautiful valleys in Madagascar, to showing people the big landscape and different species of Andringitra National Park, some species that are found nowhere else in Madagascar. Pic Boby is beautiful and I truly look forward to returning.

What kind of training would you recommend for people preparing to join this challenge?
I’d recommend they work on their cardio, do a few treks with a backpack to help your muscles adapt to the endurance. I do a lot of calisthenics, where I use my own body weight to train, from push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, it’s not for everyone, but you become more in control of your own body and feel not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger too, which is equally important.

Madagascar has a unique and diverse ecosystem, what can participants expect to encounter on the challenge?
They could expect to see wild lemurs, chameleons, different species of birds, bats, snakes and spiders (not venomous). Andringitra is known for its biodiversity, including 78 species of amphibians, 50 species of reptiles, 54 species of mammals, 108 species of birds, and more than 1,000 species of plants.

What kind of weather can people expect in Madagascar?
Overall, September is a great time to travel to Madagascar. The wildlife is rich and active, it’s warm and sunny – perfect temperature for walking, most probably with a cool breeze the higher up we climb. Night time can be cool and towards the peak, it will be quite possibly fleece and woolly hat weather.

Any key items you’d recommend people bring with them?
I’d recommend a (Water-to-go) filter bottle, which can be used on the go but also even used to collect tap water during travel days. Comfortable footwear, I personally just wear trainers, as they’re lightweight, breathable and quick drying. Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, blister plasters, a hat and shades.

Lastly, what’s your message to anyone thinking about joining this challenge?
This trek will be unforgettable and I mean that from the heart, you’ll love the country, the people, the wildlife and it’s beauty. It’s a country that features in many peoples mind, but very few actually go there. Be the few people that are fortunate enough to say “I’ve been to Madagascar”!

Photo 2

Secure your place on the Madagascar Trek with Ash Dykes this September.

Top 5 tips for getting fit for your challenge!

Some of the questions we get asked most frequently at the Charity Challenge office are “how fit do I need to be to take on this challenge?” and “do you have any advice to help me with my fitness training?” These can be difficult questions for us to answer, as different people have different levels of fitness and varying physical conditions.

We do have a preparing for your challenge – fitness training page on our website which offers some great practical advice for your fitness training, so definitely check it out.

But we do understand that the best kind of advice you can get is from people who have been there, done that and have literally got the charity challenge T-shirt. So check out below for the top 5 tried and tested tips from our charity challengers on how to get fit and ready your charity challenge!

Mix it up – Getting fit isn’t just about going to the gym, the more interesting you can make it for yourself, the more likely you are to stick with it! Join a sports team, take up a new hobby or start power-walking to work.  Recent Kilimanjaro conqueror Hanna mixed up her regime by doing a bit of running, swimming and cycling. Previous Charity Challenger Ken Menconi made his time at the gym interesting by keeping it varied – “Before the trek I worked out 6 days/week combining spinning with overall body work out, treadmill, stairclimber and yoga (for balance and centering myself).” The more varied you can make your training, the more parts of your body gets a workout and the more prepared you are to meet whatever your challenge throws at you!

Train with your kit – One if the best ways you can prepare yourself for your charity challenge is by getting used to and training with your kit. Recent Etna Challenger Neil Berridge strongly recommends spending some time in your walking boots “I was able to walk to and from work and broke them in really well…Result for me was that I had no blisters during the trek.” Fellow Etna challenger Becki Lake also can’t recommend training with your kit enough, – “Training with the actual rucksack you will be using is a must! And training with the weight you will be carrying as well!” You can do lots of walking and trekking preparation, but if you don’t get yourself used to carrying the weight of your rucksack on your back it can be a real shock to you when you begin your challenge.

Focus on the leg muscles – whether you’re cycling, trekking or sledging, you are going to be really working your leg muscles on your charity challenge, so strengthening them up is a must! Hill-walking is a great way of working your leg muscles, building up your endurance and getting used to navigating uneven terrains, as Kilimanjaro trekker Phillip Brown testifies of hill trekking, “what better way to train for climbing a mountain!”

This principle works for Cyclists as well, as Great Wall challenge cyclist Chris Hibbins says, “get lots of big steep hills practice. I say if you can cycle most the cycle routes in the lakes you will be fine”. If you don’t have the time to disappear into the hillside, there are still lots of other things a little closer to home you can do to work up your leg muscles. If you work/live a couple of floors up, forgo the lift and start taking the stairs, get off a tube/bus stop early and walk the rest of the way home. Exercise Bikes, Elliptical Cross trainers and treadmills are also great gym equipment for working the leg muscles.

Make your exercise regime work for you – As I hinted at above, not everybody has the time or inclination to put in hours and hours at the gym or take a couple of days off to walk/cycle around the countryside. If you’re one of these people, then exercise equipment hire might just be your charity challenge salvation!

We have teamed up with Hire Fitness who are the UK’s leading fitness equipment hire company.  You can hire all popular types of equipment from Hire Fitness for 4 weeks or more, which will be delivered and installed into your home or office. This way, you can get a 20 minute session on a cross trainer done before you head out to work without having to leave your home, or you can get an exercise bike installed in front of the TV and watch Charity Challenge Veteran Denise Van Outen on Strictly Come Dancing whilst pumping away. When training for her ‘Essex2India’ cycle challenge with us, having a Hire Fitness exercise bike installed in her living room was a massive part of Denise’s own training preparationss! You can visit the Hire Fitness website here, Hire Fitness offers 15% discount on all hire of 16 weeks or more for Charity challenge participants! Visit your members’ area for more details.

Sign up for a training weekend – For those who want to make sure they are on track with their training, we work with Expedition Wise to offer superb tailored training weekends for all charity treks from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. They offer both cycling and trek preparation training weekends. Sumatra Jungle Trek challenger Elizabeth Woodcroft went along to one of these weekends and found it really useful “I got to know which level I was at and what more I needed to do”.  Kilimanjaro challenger Lauren Lloyd likewise found her weekend training invaluable.

This weekend was worth every penny…The leaders are obviously made for this kind of job and their knowledge and passion for expedition life was shared endlessly. No question was seen to be too petty and every answer was given in depth. I would thoroughly recommend that anyone intending on going on expedition should attend an Expedition Wise training weekend”

To find out more about training weekends, you can visit our website page here or go to the expedition wise website directly here.

So there you have it! Take note of these 5 rules and should be well on your way to conquering your charity challenge and having the time of your life! For more top tips, and to learn more about all our charity challenges, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com, and, to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.