Carl Shane Kistel is an outdoors enthusiast, frequently participating in activities such as hiking, camping, and kayaking down local rivers. He helps readers understand the recent spike in popularity of recreational kayaking and how it can be a multi-purpose activity that has a lot of physical benefits.
Years ago, Carl Shane Kistel found most of his favorite local kayaking spots vacant besides the occasional fisherman or drifting boater. Today, however, he shares the water with dozens of other recreational kayakers enjoying the scenery and getting a new kind of workout.
“Kayaking requires a lot of paddling and steering against the currents, which is a physical challenge,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “For one, as we’ve become more health- and fitness-centric as a society, kayaking provides an out-of-the box way to burn calories and build muscle.”
It’s one of the major reasons he believes recreational kayaking has seen a recent surge in popularity. Statistically, kayaking is catching on as one of the fastest-growing sports in North America. It has built an especially strong following in the south-central region, which is traditionally known for America’s lowest participation rate for outdoor recreation.
Kistel believes that people are getting tired of the gym, tired of the treadmills and workout equipment. He notes that even some joggers may see familiar outdoor trails as tired, old methods of exercising. Everyone still wants to be fit, but they’re looking to expand their variety of exercise and open up their surroundings beyond gym walls.
Kayaking provides an excellent alternative to the gym: paddling and steering work the muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, and back, and they go a long way for cardiovascular fitness. It’s more adventurous and exciting than stationary bicycles and treadmills with the addition of nature and the calmness of flowing water. Many people find the experience anxiety- and stress-relieving even with the workout.
“It’s not always smooth sailing down an open body of water, and sometimes it’s flat out work to keep up with the current,” says Carl Shane Kistel, often referred to as Shane Kistel. “But in a way, that’s what I think draws so many people out today to do it; the physicality required.”
In addition, he notes that kayaking is a lot more affordable today than it has been in the past. Because of its growing popularity, less specialized brands produce kayaks and equipment at a fraction of the cost of major retailers. This makes the activity a lot more accessible and a happy alternative for the average gym-goers.
“Whatever the reason behind it, I believe kayaking as a rising trend is a good thing,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It helps people get outside more, encourages them to exercise, and puts them in touch with nature. All great ways to be happier.”
Carl Shane Kistel is a regular competitor at Spartan Races across the country where he challenges himself to become both physically and mentally stronger. Along the way, he’s learned how Spartan Race events bring together communities of people and help each individual achieve a level of personal growth.
Spartan Races have drawn in crowds of competitors and spectators for over a decade where intense physical challenges put their strength, endurance, and determination to the test. Repeat competitors like Carl Shane Kistel attend local races (such as the Charlotte or Fayetteville Super and Sprint) and travel to other cities, states, and countries in some cases. Today, Spartan Races appear in over 30 countries and have collected an international fan base of millions.
Those interested in attending races get the chance to compete in a range of obstacle types and marathon levels based on difficulty and duration. In this way, every individual can build up their abilities on a scale that is most comfortable for them.
“Spartan Races provide opportunities for people to come together and to test their strength and willpower,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “They prepare for it with intense training and finish the race wanting to be better and stronger. It’s a unique way to unite people with common interests, and the competitors are very supportive and encourage everyone to perform their best.”
The goal of the Spartan Race is to unearth the Spartan inside each individual, no matter what background they come from or what profession they do for a living. The obstacles and challenges in each race help them connect to their “resilient warrior” within. The races teach their competitors to work hard, eat healthy, and never give up on learning. In this way, they push all who enter to be the best version of themselves with the help of competition and camaraderie.
“The Spartan pushes people to conquer their fears and doubts and teaches them to keep their bodies moving until the end of the race,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “This kind of thinking and perseverance leaks over into their everyday lives so that afterwards, typical worries aren’t as overwhelming to them.”
This mental component to the Spartan Race is the central philosophy of the competition. The adversity in training and in their races makes each individual stronger, helping them better appreciate their life and present circumstances. After racing, many competitors report that the little things in life take on new meaning, and that they find life’s obstacles easier to manage.
“People learn that they are strong, that they don’t have to fret as much,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “They learn their own personal limits and how to push past that with the help of other competitors and the community that surrounds the Spartan Races.”