If you’ve ever wondered how Bear Grylls trains for adventure, the answer is easy: hard.
Early Friday morning, Bear teamed up with Tusk, a charity supporting African wildlife conservation, and Be Military Fit, the fitness franchise he co-founded, to host an intense workout class in London. We met up at 7:45 a.m. outside the Battersea Power Station, a new apartment community right on the Thames River. By the time the class kicked off, it was already fully sunny and hot—creating the perfect conditions for a challenging, wildlife ranger-style workout to raise awareness for threats to conservation efforts throughout Africa.
For about half an hour, we cycled through 45-second sets of burpees, push-ups, squat thrusts, weighted squats, resistance band squats, sit-ups, kettlebells, and turns on rowing machines, assault bikes, and ski ergs. It was certainly a challenge for a Friday morning and sounded intimidating when I first read about it. But throughout the class, we were reminded that we were all in it together, which kept me going. The trainers leading the class were firm with us yet also kind as they encouraged us all to push ourselves and get through just 15 more seconds, then 10, then 5…
After the class, Bear told me it was “really close” to his normal workout routine to stay fit for his own adventures. Aside from a similar set of exercises, he also normally tries to do his workouts alongside friends.
“I normally train for half an hour, always outside, always with people,” he said, even while he’s on the road. “I try and always do it with a friend. I probably do more strength-focused stuff. As I get older, I feel that is really good—lots of resistance-type training. Short, sharp, against the clock, is how I train.”
One of Bear’s main goals for the class was to draw attention to Tusk’s Wildlife Ranger Challenge. On Sept. 16, more than 100 teams of wildlife rangers across Africa will take part in a 21 km race through each of their respective conservation areas, carrying at least 21 kg on their backs. Tusk says at least 88 percent of African wildlife rangers have faced a life-threatening situation on the job, defending wildlife against criminal activity.
The challenge has become an international phenomenon, Bear said, and teams all over the world have committed to joining in remotely.
“Wildlife Ranger Challenge is all about supporting the unsung heroes, the rangers who are on the front line of conservation, facing danger every day,” Bear said. “Tough terrain, tough conditions—tough job.
“They’re protecting wildlife, protecting wild places, and protecting the communities around that. Conservation is all of our issue, because we all share the same planet. It’s in the heart and DNA about what Outdoors.com is about—protecting the wild places.”
The collaboration between BMF and Tusk is partly to show people how to train for the Challenge, Bear said—and it’s easy to see how this sort of training will really whip you into shape for adventure. Oscar Bass, one of the trainers, said BMF training will help build “mental resilience,” too, as well as fostering teamwork and building community. Even though “military” is in the name, anyone can join, no matter your level.
“It’s hard work, but it’s for everyone,” he said. All you have to do is get started—“Just get amongst it,” he added.
Philippa Layzell, a Londoner (and Bear Grylls fan) who joined in for the class, is a member of BMF and said she really enjoyed the class.
“It was amazing,” she said afterwards. “It was a great experience, and great turnout.”
If you’re looking for a way to get fit for your next big adventure, BMF has classes in person and online worldwide. Sometimes Bear joins in for live online classes he said.
“This sort of training is functional,” he said. “It’s training for life, it’s training for adventure. There’s always instability—it’s not just racks in a gym under white light. It’s unstable, it’s outside, it’s body weight, kettlebells, dynamic, fast, balance—all the stuff that I find really helps me for adventure, and it certainly is a big part of the rangers’ work, life, and fitness.”
To get involved with the Wildlife Ranger Challenge or donate to the cause, learn more here.