I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Stack of Strong-U gym who runs a fitness series based around rucking called Ruck-U. Mike Stack got his start with Rucking after hearing about it while preparing for a hiking trip to Montana, Mike took the classes at Strong-U gym and was hooked, soon after he began teaching the courses himself.
Stack utilizes the core structure of many other Rucking courses, but what makes Ruck-U different is that Mike goes above and beyond, teaching outdoor skills like navigating, survival training, and packing techniques. He also promotes the use of real world conditions carrying real gear and going out no matter what the conditions.
What is rucking?
You may be asking yourself what is rucking? Mike Explained, "Rucking is carrying a weighted pack, it doesn’t matter what it is weighted down with, the way I like to do it is to take everything I can that I would normally carry out on a hike, so that I am carrying a pack that would be most like what you would use in the field.”
For a beginner Stack starts out participants using 0-10 pound packs to gauge the persons capabilities. Upping it eventually to 45lbs+. Mike stated,” it may seem like a lot, but the assimilation period is short.” Beginner rucks usually go 2 miles, one mile each way and take about 30 minutes with a 2-3 minute rest. The average speed for each mile is roughly 12-13 minutes but can be changed based on the goal of the session which can be for speed or endurance. Rucks can go far longer but Stack keeps the Rucks within the capabilities of the group to start.
It’s very easy to get started in rucking. It requires very little equipment. Each week Ruck- U provides a list of items to bring for the next class, beyond the basic gear. The list of items you will need to start your fitness journey in rucking includes:
You may be asking yourself why is rucking any different than going for a walk or run? I asked Stack the benefits of rucking as opposed to other workouts.
“Rucking is a lot easier on the joints, I have done track throughout my life and rucking doesn’t take the toll on joints, rucking allows you to use all the muscles that you would with running but it almost always engages your core and other muscles that wouldn’t be engaged with running because you’re counter acting the weight of the pack”
Rucking is a great exercise that can be incorporated into a plan to meet the needs of any fitness goals. There are similarities between rucking and many weight lifting exercises. Muscles that are utilized in lifts like lunges, squats, and farmers carries, are also utilized in rucking. The weighted packs will provide resistance and strengthen any muscles used. You will be increasing your cardiovascular endurance as well. Those that already have a fitness plan in place can begin incorporating a day of rucking rather than a day on the treadmill or elliptical. For those that don’t already have a workout plan in place Rucking can be a great way to started on your fitness journey.
“It’s a workout that anyone can do, you only do as much weight as you feel comfortable and the whole team is there to push you. There is very much a team aspect to rucking.” said Mike
The social feature of rucking is huge. During the ruck you are able to talk with fellow participants. Many people talk about previous trips they have taken, their opinions on the best hiking locations, or just talking shop about the outdoors. Rucking brings together many different backgrounds with most having common interests in fitness and the outdoors. The Ruck-U courses show a wide range in participant age, from as young as 15 to 50+. There are almost equal parts men and women in the classes.
Ruck-U courses are very flexible and are molded to fit the capabilities of the group. The fitness goals of participants vary. Mike explained that many of the participants are actually preparing for trips all over the country. Whether that be for hiking, hunting or any other range of packing trips.
“It’s not all for the workout it’s for the learning experiences. We go over survival, route planning, topographical maps, contour lines.”
The lessons are shaped around the needs of the group as well. Lessons on navigation, pacing, and terrain may be brought up if group members are planning a trip in the back country. Whereas lessons on stride and body kinesthetics may be taught if members are planning trips on more urban flat ground.
Plenty of studies have shown the benefits of spending time in the outdoors. It is also known that regular exercise has great benefits on your overall wellbeing. Rather than spending hours in the gym, inside, struggling to find a piece of equipment, start rucking. Rucking provides you an outlet to both spend time outside and get a killer workout.
Those that try rucking will fall in love with it right away. Rucking allows you to get outside, workout, socialize and learn a thing or two in the process. Strong-U gym is making strides in this up and coming style of workout. Strong-U gym has a very friendly and highly experienced staff, that makes Rucking a very enjoyable experience.
Strong-U Gym will be offering classes in the spring, summer and fall. The classes are held 3 times a week, two weeknights in the afternoon and one weekend starting in the morning. There is a drop-in fee per class. The classes meet at the gym and start with stretches and some exercises, continue to the ruck, and finish with a cool down and team building. The weekend trips incorporate new locations like state parks and forest preserves.
The best way to get in contact would be to call or simply stop in and ask staff any questions you may have.
If you are interested in Ruck-U courses their contact info is below.
8e E Central Blvd, Villa Park, IL 60181