Many people are finding nontraditional ways to jumpstart their fitness routine—on vacation. One such trend is fitpacking (or fatpacking), adventure backpacking tours designed to help participants get fit and drop pounds while enjoying the great outdoors.
“Backpacking has always been a passion of mine,” says Fitpacking founder Steve Silberberg, who worked at an investment firm before founding the company in 2005. “Whenever I came back from a backpacking vacation, I noticed that I felt better, my clothes fit better, and I’d lost weight.”
Silberberg believed other people would also enjoy and benefit from backpacking, so he offers one- and two-week adventure tours (priced at $1-2K) to 25 locations annually, including Yosemite, the Smoky Mountains and Patagonia, Chile.
The tours are designed for those 20 to 70 pounds overweight, as well as baby boomers. Each day involves at least eight hours of hiking with a 40-pound pack, resulting in an average 5,000-6,000 calorie burn daily and often several inches of fat loss over a weeklong tour.
“Once you get out in the wilderness, really all you can eat is whatever is on your back,” he explains. “You can’t cheat by going to the freezer for ice cream in the middle of the night.”
Although the lack of electricity and running water isn’t for everyone, Silberberg finds that “unplugging” is a perspective changer and stress reliever for many. He hopes fitpacking encourages people to see fitness as a lifestyle and offers a frequent hiker bonus for returning participants.
“A lot of people go into exercise programs, and it’s hard for them to overcome that hump of getting in shape,” says Silberberg. “When you take one of these trips, by the time you get home, you are in shape.”