Extreme physical training isn’t new, but SheKnows fitness expert and personal trainer Laura Williams explains why the boom in survival-style workouts is great for women of all fitness levels.
You’ve seen advertisements for extreme fitness routines like Tough Mudder races and military-style workouts like CrossFit. But Girls Gone Sporty founder Laura Williams is adamant that survival-style workouts are important for women, even if they never run a race. “Sadly, we live in a world where women absolutely have to be prepared to fight off or run away from an attacker,” she says. “But it’s not just attackers who pose a threat. If you find yourself lost in the woods or stranded along a country road, being mentally and physically strong gives you options when making life or death decisions.”
Figure out what you want
First of all, Williams suggests that women start by considering what they want to gain from a survival fitness routine. “Someone who regularly goes hiking alone needs more basic strength and endurance than someone whose primary activities lie in a five-block radius of her home,” Williams says.
As far as bare minimum abilities, Williams says, “I think all women should be prepared to run at least a mile, and complete basic lunges, squats, push-ups and assisted pull-ups.” These basic moves can prepare women to climb out of a ditch or run away from an attacker. She also states that all women need to know how to deliver standard self-defense moves with confidence and strength.
Routines for survival beginners
Of course, nothing says that you can’t train on your own by adding lunges, squats and interval jogging to your workout routine. But if you’re a little overwhelmed by the idea, Williams recommends the following survival-style routines.
Krav maga. These routines include elements of practical, applied martial arts for self-defense purposes. The Israeli army developed Krav Maga in the 1940s, borrowing from boxing, jiu-jitsu, judo and even street fighting, with a heavy focus on reflective responses to real-world dangers.
Self-defense classes. Know how to get away in the event of an attack. Basic women’s self-defense routines will build your muscle memory so you can respond with a quick and effective escape move, should an attacker corner you. It’s important to take a class and learn the proper way to execute these moves, so you don’t get hurt in an effort to keep yourself safe.
Don’t Mess with M.A.M.A. routines. Sadly, women are attacked in a variety of situations, including when they’re with their children. Women need to be properly (and professionally) trained in how to respond accordingly. The Don’t Mess with M.A.M.A. routines provide self-defense moves for women who are also protecting their kids.
You can try these routines without the barrier of upfront costs. Williams suggests purchasing and training with the gear you’d carry with you if you were ever found in a dangerous situation — like a water bottle or backpack — but most of these routines just use your own body weight for training. “The best gear you can have with you at all times is a keen sense of awareness, and a basic idea of how you’d react in an emergency,” Williams says.