It’s four-thirty in the morning as fitness coach Kristian Palmieri begins work with his pitchfork in the stalls along with farmer Sepp Pircher up at the Alberhof farm. The cows are already awake and they’re the reason he has come. Let the day begin in this rather unusual fitness studio.
A week has passed since Kristian’s visit to the farm in Vanga/Wangen, a hamlet of 200 souls in the municipality of Renon/Ritten. Today we meet Kristian in Altenburg, a few kilometres from Caldaro/Kaltern. When I step out of the car, I immediately see what I am looking for: A sign saying “Start of fitness circuit.” It’s a warm, late summer’s day with the rays of the sun streaming through the treetops and illuminating the forest trail that begins in front of me. I inhale deeply: The air is pure. Here, in “nature’s fitness studio” the clocks run differently. Things are slower, calmer, and more relaxed.
Lulled by the peacefulness of the forest, I almost fail to notice Kristian Palmieri emerging behind me. Today, he is taking me along the fitness trail. I immediately feel at ease here. “I love doing sports outdoors where I can switch off, let my mind wander and enjoy the landscape.”
If you spend several hours a day sitting:
#1 Cycle or walk to work.
#2 Try out light, healthy nutrition and opt for fresh regional produce.
#3 Enjoy the time after work. What about exercising in the great outdoors?
If you do manual labour:
#1 Eat healthily and regularly, and remember to drink a lot.
#2 Take care of your back, particularly if you are lifting heavy objects.
#3 Listen to your body and take a break when you need one.
A land of many opportunities
For Kristian this environment is nothing new. He often spends time outdoors in the natural world. He enjoys climbing mountains and is also an avid cyclist. He simply cannot keep still. Kristian also appreciates the many opportunities available in South Tyrol. He has been doing cycle routes in his hometown of Bolzano/Bozen for years now. If he needs a bigger challenge, he can be up the nearest mountains in just a few minutes.
Kristian looks into the forest. “Here too, you can train intensively or simply go for a walk.” He should know – he’s the expert. I follow him curiously.
The forest as training partner
You don’t need to go to the gym to work out. But don’t worry, you do not have to live on a farm either. Kristian explains how best to train as we walk along the fitness trail in Caldaro/Kaltern.
Farmer for a day
For Kristian Palmieri, the training session on the farm in Vanga/Wangen was very different; for Sepp it is his everyday life. As he started work early in the morning in the stalls, Kristian still looked half-asleep. Farmer Sepp and his wife Veronika, on the other hand, were already wide-awake: They are used to it here.
Kristian looks back on the day with a smile: “I am a city guy. Milking cows and raking hay were foreign concepts to me. I could sort of imagine what has to be done on a farm. I had no idea how hard the farmer’s day would be, however.” It was an interesting experience. Kristian wanted to see the difference between deliberate exercise and everyday manual labour. A video helps to illustrate the difference. Without giving too much away, Sepp was highly impressed by Kristian and at the end the day and even asked him for his phone number. Perhaps if they have as much work to do on the farm another time, he will give Kristian a call. Only then will we see if Kristian is fit enough!
A special form of training
Cleaning out the stalls, milking the cows, mowing the steep meadows, raking the grass, bringing the hay into the hayloft in the barn, cleaning the cows’ hooves – all in a day’s work for Farmer Sepp but something wholly unaccustomed effort for Kristian. “The day was good exercise for me. Hats off to Sepp for his physical performance,” says Kristian, coach at a fitness studio in Bolzano/Bozen. “The work was new to me, but not the sequence of movements. I trained the same muscles as in the gym.” But in a different way: The exercise down on the farm strengthens the trunk and trains the stomach and back muscles, as well as the arms and shoulders – and (less so) the legs.
“I was tired at the end of the day. Making hay for two hours without a break is harder than I thought. Fortunately, I am pretty fit.” Kristian Palmieri
I say goodbye to Kristian. Our fitness walk together ends with a firm handshake. This short excursion has been a boost for both mind and soul – I feel free. Kristian too has the evening off. Farmer Sepp will again be milking the cows without his help.
Text: Katja Schroffenegger
Translation: Gareth Norbury
Photos: Ivo Corrà
Video: Veronika Kaserer
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