Paleolithic Park

6 Sep

me_tree_iconAs I’ve mentioned before, my new-paleo-convert friend Jim has whole-heartedly accepted the dietary wisdom I’ve shared with him and adjusted his habits accordingly. As of this writing, he has lost about 20 pounds over two months. Unfortunately, schedules and budget restrictions have limited his explorations into paleo-style exercising.  I’ve encouraged him to try to incorporate some simple body-weight exercises into his routine, but he has found doing such things around his apartment uninspiring. Thus, recently we decided to enjoy our brief San Franciscan summer by getting outside for some real paleo exercising.

Getting outside to move slowly, dash around, and play is more than just a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon. As Mark Sisson points out:

” ‘Try working out outdoors’ or ‘Go on a hike’ is not just tentatively recommended advice to be discarded or glossed over. Long walks don’t belong in the miscellaneous category, and playing is as important as lifting heavy things. All this stuff – the play, being outdoors, the frequent bouts of moving slowly – is crucial…Outdoor workouts [result] in greater revitalization, increased energy, and more positive engagement, along with less depression, anger, confusion, and tension.”

Living in the middle of San Francisco, it can be a little hard for us to get to the “real” great outdoors. Luckily, we are blessed to have a little slice of the great outdoors right in the middle of our own city, Golden Gate Park. But even a more “civilized” park can offer great opportunities for outdoor exercise and play. I share our adventures here today in the hopes that other people might be similarly inspired to find unconventional playgrounds in their own communities.

As we began our adventure, we developed some simple rules. Find a flight of stairs? Run up them. Have to cross a street? Sprint across to catch the light. And whenever possible, get off the paved paths to see where the unpaved ones take you.

I would make a reference to Robert Frost here but the real meaning of that poem is actually far different from its common interpretation and I won't get into it here. #liberalartsproblems

I would make a reference to Robert Frost here but the real meaning of that poem is actually far different from its common interpretation and I won’t get into it here. #liberalartsproblems

When we had to stay on paved paths, we compensated by walking on the grass next to them, or did some simple core workouts by making the paths more challenging:

jim_balance

Like slacklining but less hippie.

There are a few children’s play structures scattered through the park but our travels didn’t take us past any of them. Instead, we found a structure even better for physical and mental stimulation:

jim_tree1

I don’t even know what these trees are but if I ever get a house I am planting them everywhere.

I have had a very poor lifetime history with climbing trees, so I was thrilled to find something so delightfully easy and engaging.

Oh yeah and I was wearing my zebra leggings. Just because it's summer doesn't mean its not still a little chilly.

Yeah I was wearing my zebra leggings. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean it isn’t still a little chilly.

We soon were stopping every ten minutes or so to climb any tree we found interesting.

This one was too slippery for me. Thatswhatshesaid.

This one was too slippery for me #thatswhatshesaid.

We also made some time to throw in some of aforementioned body-weight workouts.

Yes I can still only do slanting pushups. Please feel free to comment on my form.

Yes I can still only do slanted push-ups. Please feel free to comment on my form.

Why make a swing when you can BE the swing?

Why make a swing when you can BE the swing?

My pullups also need some work but I still enjoy the nice stretch that I get in my arms and upper back when I just hang.

My pullups also need some work but I still enjoy the nice stretch that I get in my arms and upper back when I just hang.

At one point, we stopped to consider scrounging up something for lunch:

Remember, if you shoot them, you can only carry one back to the wagons.

Remember, if you shoot them, you can only carry one back to the wagons.

But luckily the park provided more accessible options as well.

Only *slightly* less dangerous than the bison.

Only slightly less dangerous than the bison.

We made many excuses for pure silly play, such as chasing each other through sprinklers (while chronic-cardio joggers glared at us as they puffed by). The best bout of play happened when I found myself having to escape a horde of what I declared to be “dangerous predators”:

If they were looking for bread, they were really barking (quacking?) up the wrong tree.

If they were looking for bread, they were really barking (quacking?) up the wrong tree.

But then those threats were chased away by something that actually could have been a legitimate threat:

me_raccoons

Simultaneously adorable and creepy. See that big one in the front? She was missing one eye. That is a raccoon that has seen some shit. If you have a sandwich she will cut you.

The play ended when they started climbing up the tree after me, with their unnaturally slow, exact movements and their quiet chittering. We got out of there fast.

Again, the most adorable-creepy thing to ever happen to me.

Again, the most adorable-creepy thing to ever happen to me.

Then, as so many things do in life, our journey ended at the sea, where we practiced our sprinting once again by outracing the waves.

Jim lost his race. Also, protip: sandy Vibrams are the worst, avoid at all costs.

Jim lost his race. Also, protip: sandy Vibrams are the worst, avoid at all costs.

I encourage everyone to get outside and find themselves a little primal play-time. You don’t need perfect weather or an ancient park to do so. All you need is a sense of creativity and a willingness to engage with the world around you in unexpected ways. Or even if all you do is go out for a walk that is fine too. There is really no way to do a day in the park wrong.

Or, er, I take that back. There is possibly one way to do a park wrong:

Last I checked the park was not a mall....

Last I checked the park was not a mall….

I know what you’re thinking, does anybody really do that sort of thing? Well….

Literal statement: "Did...that really just happen?"

Literal statement: “Did…did that really just happen?”

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4 Responses to “Paleolithic Park”

  1. Rely September 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    ZOMG!!! I have totally been stalked by a raccoon in Golden Gate Park. My boyfriend and I were all like wtf, this is both awesome and horrifying.
    and I HEART your zebra leggings 😉

    • Colleen September 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      LOL! Yeah this was by one of the smaller ponds and there were signs everywhere saying not to feed the animals. I was like, why are they all concentrated here all of a sudden? Then later I was like, oh. This is why.

      And thanks! ;D I got them at Multikulti on Valencia St, though last I checked they didnt have them anymore 😦 But they’re a great place for other fun accessories!

  2. Devilbunny September 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Tourists on tour. Why the surprise? I do something like that on a first visit to every city in order to get a feel for what I would like to explore more thoroughly later on.

    We did the little yellow Go Cars last week in SF, which were an absolute blast.

    • Colleen September 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      Lol, I’m not going to lie, in and of themselves they do look kinda like fun, and if you only have a short period of time it is a good way to see a lot of the park. It’s pretty much the same response locals have to the Go Cars, as evidenced here: http://whilstinsf.tumblr.com/post/25102407379/the-thing-about-go-cars

      I was mostly amused by the extreme juxtaposition of the situation: here my friend and I had spent the entire afternoon taking absolute advantage of every environment and surface the park had to offer, and then as we were leaving we’re passed by a long line of people not even interacting directly with the ground. 😉

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