What Fitness Can Learn From Farming


A week ago I went on a 14 hour road trip that took me through Missouri.

I remembered that my ancestors were from Missouri, and since I had 14 hours on my hands, I started researching my family tree on my phone as we barreled down I-70. (when I wasn't driving of course)

The longer I looked, the more I noticed a pattern as I combed through census records, and other public documents associated with my forefathers.  See if you can pick up on it...

Grandfather: Farmer

Great Grandfather:  Farmer

2x Great Grandfather:  Farmer

3x Great Grandfather: Farmer


Literally every single patriarch from my father's side was a farmer at some point...All the way back to the 1700s!

And then there's me.  I sell fancy jump ropes to the functional fitness community via the internet...Soooo pretty much the same thing, right?

Ok, maybe not.

I have to admit, driving through mile after mile of midwestern farmland made me a little jealous of my ancestors.  Farming is just so wide-open, peaceful, and real.

Conversely, running a website can be very stressful, enclosed, and virtual.

I started wondering what lessons I could take from my farming ancestors.  What could make my life more peaceful?  How could I experience more freedom?  How could I live life at a different pace?

I'm still chewing on those thoughts, but I had one epiphany that I think can be applied to work, fitness, and other areas of life where we're hoping to see growth.

Here's what farmers do...

They plant seeds.  They take care of their plants.  They wait for their plants to grow.  They harvest when the plants reach maturity.

Granted, that's a gross understatement, but It's the basic process, and I think we could all use to be a bit more like farmers.

If you've started exercising, you've planted the seeds.  If you show up and do the work every day, you're cultivating growth.

But what about waiting?  I think most of us suck at this step. 

Instead of trusting the seeds we've planted, and the work we're doing, we become impatient, and expect results NOW!

We tend to agonize over every decimal point on the scale, every RX'd movement that is out of our reach, and every placing on the whiteboard.

We look for magic tactics, short-cuts, and tricks to get instant gains.

I can't imagine farmers doing that. 

Are they interested in growth?  Of course. 

Do they stay up half the night anxiously pacing around their fields measuring their corn plants, and the corn plants of their neighbors? No.

Do they believe that there is some secret way to plant a corn seed, and then immediately harvest it?  No.

Do they wake up every morning, look at their fields, and shake their head in disappointment because their corn plants don't look like mature corn plants? No.

They show up.  They do the work.  They wait.

Just like the crops in a farmers field, our day-to-day progress can be imperceptible, but after a season of hard work, the time will come to reap the benefits.

Let's wait with joy.  Let's take comfort in knowing that cultivating things takes time.  Let's set our tools down at the end of the day knowing that we did the work, and that the rest is out of our control.

If we can recognize that we're in the middle of a season, we can avoid unnecessary worry, disappointment, or impatience. 

You've planted the seeds.  You're doing the work.  The harvest is coming.

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P.S.  I'll bet farmers get really excited about new implements that will help them plant, and cultivate crops more efficiently.  Click below to get excited about a tool that will do the same thing for your fitness.  Sorry they don't come in John Deer Green :)

P.P.S  I went for a run on our trip.  This statement was actually part of a blinking multi-part marketing message, but It was a nice little burst of motivation when I looked up at the perfect moment, and it encouraged me to "DO THE WORK!"