Issue 64: REVisions: Health and Happiness

Last year was probably the busiest season of flying quad I could ever hope for with more than 20 separate events and an awful lot of travel in order to get to all those events. I saw “awful” with respect to many times, air travel can truly be awful, but I certainly have no regrets whatsoever. But, when you do something so much over the course of a year, a few things become apparent very quickly. Kite flying is often viewed as a very “sedate” activity but, the people who’d usually call it that truly haven’t done very much of it. The fastest pace dual line flying can be quite the physical grind at time, especially in high wind, and when you spend 6+ hours a day walking in sand, handling a rev the entire time, it can be equally as grueling. There was many a day when I’d finish the day and be utterly spent with next to no energy left and a solid ache from head to toe. My legs would be demolished from walking in the sand and my arms and shoulders would be done in from all the flying. And I can safely state that this was a common issue on the iQuad team for all the members. We soldiered on through it, it certainly didn’t kill any of us in the process, but, the point being, for a pretty sedate activity, it can really take it’s toll on a person’s body over the course of an event, and once you spread that over 20 events, wow, was I wiped by the time I wrapped up my events for the year at Niagara last October. I was ready for a rest!

One of the bigger issues I had last year was a nagging issue with my shoulder. It took a while to pin down what was actually the issue, and I’m not entirely sure it’s been nailed down 100%, but, after a rather unseasonably snowy winter in Vancouver, which led to an large amount of snow shoveling (Vancouver is usually “blessed” with one big dump of snow a season, and a few small ones, this year, we got 7 large dumps in just over 2 weeks!) and a few times too many of driving a snow shovel into a crack in the sidewalk, I was left with a shoulder that wasn’t in very good shape at all. In fact, the merest jarring of it was enough to send a good unhealthy blast of pain throughout my arm.

But, as I sat there around Christmas bemoaning my fate and wondering about just how I’d be able to fly for any great lengths of time without spending a  lot of it in pain, it suddenly dawned on me that if perhaps I was in a little better shape, the whole aches and pains of last year might be approached in a different manner this year. Maybe if I spent some time beforehand working towards feeling a bit better physically, I’d be able to endure 6+ hours out on the sand and still have some energy left over as the sun began to set.

Needless to say, there are literally hundreds of different approaches to this. But, the basic goal is the same, be in a little better shape. For me, the solution presented itself by surprise in the form of a Nintendo Wii that was in a house we were house-sitting over the winter. Attached to the house’s entertainment system, it’s usually simply a (very) fun gaming device, one that’s known for dragging in non-gaming types. Me, I’ve been a computer game player quite literally for decades, but, I still find the Nintendo to be a charming little box, but, in this case, they also had the Wii Balance Board and a copy of Wii Fit. I’m not one for physical exercise for the most part. Jogging bores me to tears, as do gym rooms usually, well evidenced by the gym that’s quite literally outside my office door that’s seen my smiling face perhaps a dozen times over the space of the 9 years I’ve worked in that building. That’s not to say I’m tremendously out of shape or in need of some grand weight loss plan, but, much like many people, a little toning couldn’t hurt, could it?

In fact, yes, yes it could in fact hurt a little bit if you overdo it, but, for the most part I was pretty careful about it, and one month after starting in on it, I can very safely say I’m in far better shape physically as I’m mere days away from heading to South Padre Island for the first kite festival of the 2009 kite season. Part of the lure of the “game” “system” “approach” that Wii Fit employs is it keeps very careful track of your weight, and your progress. Much like any video game, doing a specific amount of things will unlock other things that can be done, and in a month, most of it is unlocked and playable. Wii Fit focuses in on 4 separate areas of physical health and all 4 of these apply to kite flying as much as anything else.  Yoga, in order to stretch out muscles that have perhaps been a bit too dormant over the winter. Strength exercises that help build up your overall physical strength, from lower body to upper body, Aerobic exercises that really help with your overall stamina and a series of actions based on developing better balance. They are all inter-related and you can do as little, or as much, as you’d like. Initially, 30 minutes on the beast (as I so charmingly refer to it now) was enough to leave me wiped out and pleading for a break but, I now tend to average an hour a day, with a bit in the morning and some more after work. It’s always struck me as some sort of paradox when it’s been suggested that by doing some amount of physical exercise every day, you will actually end up having MORE energy per day, but, I can say quite honestly that this is in fact the case. It’ll be very interesting to see just how more energetic I feel after a day of flying down at South Padre but, I’m very confident that it will in fact be the case. I was out  this afternoon for a few hours and, it was a noticeable difference. The trick will be to keep that up over the whole year!

As for the shoulder, in the end I took a visit to a chiropractor/massage therapist, and I’m also very pleased to announce that it’s nearly 100% better, so for anyone who listened to me moan about it last year will be relieved to find out I’ll have to find other things to carp about. Oddly, kite flying tends to help it stay pain free which was a huge surprise for me, as I had suspected that it in fact was the cause as opposed to the other way around but, now that I have a better understanding of what went sideways with it, it does make sense. The constant jerking of my arms in order to gain some height or lift with the in fact kept it better aligned than what happened when I spent a few months away from flying over the fall once Niagara wrapped up. So, in fact, the key will be simple. Keep oneself in better shape. No matter how you do it, whether it’s via a Wii Fit or through a simple program of some light stretching better focus on how you use your body, your flying will improve as a direct result of the work you put it into this. I guarantee it. I’ll report back in the next REVisions but, I’m pretty sure that my report will be very positive, I’m sure that I’ll feel much better and be able to fly much more consistently simply through keeping a better eye out for what I’m doing to my body and spending some time caring for it. Your mileage may vary to a degree, but the basic approach will work for anyone. It won’t take much, but every little bit you do will make a difference.

New Years Day is always a good start for any new endeavor, and as a result of a fun fly in Portland for a New Years kite fly, the world now has it’s Rev-focused Kite “Guild”, appropriately named “RevGuild”.

guild also gild

  1. a. An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards.
    b. A similar association, as of merchants or artisans, in medieval times.

While some of us are perhaps a little older, I don’t think “medieval” really applies, for all intents and purposes, let’s focus on the first definition. The idea here was simple, form a kite club that was focused towards Revs (but! Not exclusive to Revs!) This has been a very exciting project to be a part of and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it pans out over the next year but, look towards a Rev focused event in the Northwest sometime next year. As it stands, we’re already having our first fun fly in the next couple of weeks. Details on this can best be found at the site itself, located here:

We’d love to hear for you and hear your own ideas on how we can make this happen on an even larger scale. While the initial members have mostly been from the Northwest, our intent is for this membership (and subsequent events and benefits) to extend to Rev flyers around the world. Pop on in and take a look!

For me, it’s now time to roundup some kites and head down to Texas!

David Hathaway