Bear Fitness: Getting down and dirty with Fran at The Bear Trail, Cullompton

This is a post by our new blogger Fran! Fran is originally from Doncaster and when she moved to Exeter in 2005 for a new job, she was told that ‘once people move to Devon, they never leave!’ It Turns out those people were right, she has been here ever since and loves the laid back way of life. Fran believes that fresh air is the best therapy for creating a little headspace, trying new things and having some fun.  And that is what she likes to write about! This week she went to The Bear Trail to get muddy (it’s not just for kids you know).

I’d heard a lot about The Bear Trail near Cullompton over the summer, and thought it sounded like a pretty cool concept (a fun, muddy, outdoors assault course for kids and their adults). So when my friend told me they were running Bear Fit classes designed to make adult fitness fun AND affordable, I was delighted to have the opportunity to get down and dirty, and kick start my new year’s fitness regime.

Classes are currently running on Wednesdays from 11th Jan-15th Feb. Beginners are from 9:30-10:30 followed by intermediates from 10:45-11:45. I signed up for all six beginner sessions (great value at £30) but there is also the option to pay as you go for £6.50 a session. I must admit I did feel a little apprehensive when I first arrived, but Ben (whose vision this was) was on hand to welcome and reassure everyone at the start, and also checked in with everyone again at the end. He is super keen to get people’s feedback on what’s working well and how things can be improved in order to grow the business to meet its customer’s needs, which is a big thumbs up in my eyes. Sam from SB Fitness runs the classes and is also great at breaking everyone in gently with a series of warm up exercises (squats, lunges, star jumps, jogging on the spot etc) to pumping tunes from his giant mobile speaker, before cranking it up a notch and hitting some of the obstacles.

The Bear Trail has a great variety of obstacles to challenge you not only physically but mentally too, and each week there is something new and exciting to have a go at. Being sent off in pairs is really reassuring – it’s nice knowing you’re not going it alone, and being able to support/be supported by each other creates a lovely sense of teamwork without feeling competitive. We’ve swung across muddy water on ropes, shimmied up (and slid down) cargo nets, crawled through tunnels, run up endless mounds and ridges, jumped across paw pads, balanced on beams, conquered bear mountain and clambered over hay bales.

The thing I like the most is that if you’re feeling all Mr Motivator you can really go for it and add in a few extra laps of whatever mini circuit we’re doing at the time. Equally, if you’ve left your mojo in your nice warm bed, there’s no pressure to do anything you’re not comfortable with.

Encouragement? Yes. Pressure? No. I haven’t met “Shouty Sam” just yet, and for that I am very grateful. I’ve done a few boot camps before and there’s nothing worse than having someone yell at you and eff and jeff in your face. That’s not the sort of exercise I like paying for!

After running ourselves ragged around the obstacles, we regroup to finish the hour long session with a few more exercises (planks, burpees, duck walks, frog jumps….you’re intrigued aren’t you?!). I’m not going to lie, by this point certain parts of my body are usually starting to scream, but there’s something extremely invigorating and satisfying about being out in the fresh air, running around and pushing yourself without the confines of a mirrored gym wall. And then my favourite part, the cool down!

Exercise isn’t supposed to be easy. But it can be fun, which is why I like Bear Fit so much.

There aren’t many occasions when I’d willingly crawl around on muddied hands and knees, but there’s a child-like sense of freedom about it that takes the sting out of the fact you’re exercising.

So if you fancy trying something a bit different, with a healthy dose of fresh air to boot, check out Bear Fit. There are still 2 more weeks left of the current sessions, and talk of more classes lined up in the future too! Or if you’re thinking about doing the Commando Challenge, Rock Solid or any other obstacle run, this is a fantastic taster of what’s to come and would be the perfect preparation! Just don’t wear your new, spangly lycra. Because you will get muddy. But you’ll have great fun and burn a few calories in the process too.

And one final thing, so you really don’t have any excuses to bail, the venue has a whole heap of parking, toilets for those last minute pre-exercise wees, and a safe place to leave your valuables. So what are you waiting for?!

img_0555You can find Bear Fit at The Bear Trail, Westcott, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 1SA. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Exeter. Please check their site here, or Facebook for full details.

Learn more about the fitness classes and personal training Sam offers at SB Fitness on Facebook. His webpage is also going live any day now here

Read about kids at The Bear Trail in our Exploring Exeter blog here.


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