Flatlander to Alaska Hiker – On the Boat or At The Lake

Back in flat Central Illinois we are working on a “get in shape for serious hiking” plan that doesn’t take up too much time.  We can walk miles and miles every day of the week for the next 3 months and still not be ready to hike in Alaska — just in case you couldn’t see the little post photo, here’s the terrain I’m talking about…. flat, flat, flat….

So you thought I was kidding about flat Illinois cornfields?

We’re starting our program with 3 miles, five times a week, or 15 miles a week. When we were getting ready for other trips that required better physical fitness, like Machu Picchu or Glacier National Park, we found out the hard way that we weren’t really in good enough shape to walk UPHILL.  Flat and midwest hills were fine, but UPHILL is an entire different level of fitness.

Hiking Glacier National Park (that’s me fascinated by the scenery around every corner, taking photos)

Portable, light and small. The X-Iser in stored mode. It can also lay flat with the bungee cord holding everything in place.

Then I remembered once upon a time we had a “mini” stairstepper  that I bought 15 years ago, thinking we could use it on the boat.  It’s compact, provides a great workout in minimal time, but somehow it was one of those great ideas that never made it aboard.  It’s been hidden somewhere in the piles of stuff in our garage for YEARS.  After digging it out and cleaning it up, I was pleased to find that it’s still available online AND they have videos with “burst training” — which sounds like exactly what we need to climb steep areas during our next adventure.

SO, so far, we have our almost daily walks … starting at 3 miles and we’ll increase the mileage.  Now we’re adding “burst training” with our X-iser..

I was surprised to find they’re still available, and you can get more information or get one on Amazon.

You use this thing three or four times a day, starting in 30 second intervals and we’ve already increased to one minute intervals.

Top View

But first you set it up, which consists of laying it flat, removing the bungee holding the pedals in place and placing the cylinders in the middle on two little ridges that hold them in place … no tools required, it took me less than 10 seconds to set it up.

Side view

Now I can step on and start getting in shape for the Alaska hiking — including climbing to and hiking on a glacier with crampons and ice axes!   To use the X-iser for “burst training”, you step on, sort of squat a bit, bending your knees and keeping the rest of your body totally straight – I put my hands on my hips for an extra bit of balance.  Lots of people start out by placing it next to a wall or chair and using a hand to steady them until their balance improves to the point you don’t need the extra steadying.

In the ready position – my legs probably should be bent just a tad more … and they are when both pedals are even.

Then I start the timer on my phone for the specified amount of time — I’m using 1 minute.  Then you pump the pedals as fast as you can for that long.  At about 30 seconds my quads start burning and by the end of the minute I’m out of breath.  Then wait one minute for “recovery” and do another minute.  You do this 3 or 4 times a day.  You can see that I can step on and do it anytime in any clothing – even barefoot.

David laughed at me saying this little thing couldn’t possibly help get us in shape … that was BEFORE he stepped on, nearly fell off because it does require a bit of balance, was totally out of breath in 30 seconds and his quads were on fire.

 X-iser offers free online instructional videos (click the link) on everything from how to set it up, the initial “burst training” program that they recommend all the way through to a full body workout program involving common hand weights and longer bursts of time.  Hopefully we’ll “graduate” to the more difficult programs as our 12 weeks of prep time passes, but for now, 3 times a day with one minute intervals, rest one minute and another minute, is enough to keep my quads burning.  Keep your fingers crossed it works!

Anyone with any other ideas on how to turn a flatlander into a mountain hiker, please leave a comment and share!!!   We can use all the help we can get!  Cheers!   Jan





  1. Dear Jan,
    I get ready by strapping on my loaded backpack at work during lunch and climbing the stairs! I get funny looks, but it’s FREE and it works and the workout is worth it to be ready for the next adventure! Remember…”exercise” is the only four-letter word in the English language that uses eight letters!!! HaHa

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