Set your fitness goals high; Try 13,000 feet in the mountains of Peru
Most individual fitness goals are typical.
Some people want to lose a certain amount of weight for summer's bikini season, while others are looking to increase their endurance for a marathon.
But imagine if your fitness goal was to hike 28 miles in the mountains of Peru.
That's exactly what this trip is all about, George Matthews said.
"You set this fitness goal and you accomplish it," he said. "The goal is not just better health. It provides a venue to demonstrate their fitness goals."
Matthews, who works as the fitness center manager for Arizona Western College, is organizing a four-day hike on the Inca Trail starting in Cuzco and ending at Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas.
This fitness adventure was developed through Andean Treks, an East Coast company that specializes in vacations to South America. The trip is not affiliated with or sponsored by AWC.
The cost is $1,387, which includes airfare, lodging, most meals, porters - which means hikers carry only a daypack - and an eight-week physical preparation with Matthews.
"What I provide is an individual fitness program for the person with the goal being to hike the Inca Trail," Matthews said.
The trip is definitely a challenge. Participants will face rough terrain as they walk through the mountains where sheep are frequently grazing. They will see wildlife along the river and experience the ancient culture of the Inca Indians. The highest point on the hike will be 13,000 feet.
But you don't have to be George of Jungle to do it.
"You can hike the Inca Trail at any age, it's only a matter of fitness progression," Matthews said.
The oldest person to participate to hike this trail with Matthews was 67 years old. The youngest has been 17 years old. It's all about the fitness preparation, Matthews said.
"If you went and hiked the Inca Trail without any training, it wouldn't be a pleasant experience," he said.
After someone signs up for the trip, Matthews will do a fitness assessment of the individual to determine the proper program for their preparation.
Most people will start by doing a strength program three times a week and cardiovascular exercise, mostly walking, three times a week. The amount of time spent depends on the individual, but 30 minutes each day is the average amount.
As the trip comes closer, Matthews will increase the person's cardiovascular regiment gradually. By the end, they will be walking six times a week. Three weeks before the trip, the participant will be walking for 20 minutes three times a week, two times a week for 30 minutes with a one-hour walk once a week.
In the weeks leading up to the journey, Matthews also organizes outdoor hikes at local trails for practice.
"It's also a good opportunity for them to get to know each other," Matthews said.
There will also be a few meetings held in private homes and at the library, he said.
The trip is from May 16 to May 24. The deadline to sign up is March 15 and the group is limited to 10 people.
"That leaves about the right amount of time to get people into shape for it," Matthews said. "The average person can get into shape and do it."
Each participant needs to have a valid passport and the appropriate vaccinations for travel in South America. In general, vaccinations against tetanus, typhoid/diphtheria, Hepatitis A and polio are recommended.
They also need to bring their basic supplies for the trip, like a sleeping bag and hiking boots.
Matthews, who has organized these trips for years, said he has never had a disappointed customer and Machu Picchu is something everyone needs to see.
"It's one of the seven wonders of the world," he said. "For people that have those life accomplishment lists, this is always on their lists because of its historical and physical setting. It's one of those things that you've got to see it because it is there."
Participants can also select the option of a canoe excursion through the Amazon Jungle for an additional five days for $500.
The whole trip is a memorable experience, Matthews said. "It really is an Indiana Jones experience."
Michelle Kann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6855.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
CONTACT GEORGE MATTHEWS THROUGH E-MAIL AT GEOMATT44@HOTMAIL.COM OR 1-712-310-1748 FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE INCA TRAIL HIKE.