Physical Aspects of Training
As experienced pilots tend to make practiced skills look effortless, it’s common for prospective students to underestimate the physical aspects involved in learning how to footlaunch a paramotor. As you might imagine, our Full-Time program is fast-paced and involves many long hours of training and periods of vigorous outdoor activity throughout the course of instruction—you can think of this as being similar to being a paramotor “Training Camp.” Therefore, it pays dividends to arrive to training in good shape! Doing so will not only facilitate the learning process, but also allow you to enjoy it a hell of a lot more!
We make a conscious effort to closely monitor the physical fatigue, pace, and stamina of our students, however, students that arrive to training in poor shape will find themselves to be more physically exhausted and mentally fatigued (and generally more frustrated) compared to those who exercise regularly or arrive in “good-enough” physical shape. Students who arrive in poor shape will also have a much higher likelihood of sore muscles, aches, pains, and strains throughout the week, which in turn, could hamper their learning progression.
What to Expect:
Before students take to the air, they must first master the basics of handling the glider on the ground. Ground handling, also referred to as “kiting”, is both the foundational skillset and the cornerstone of our sport; it is also one of the most physical aspects of learning how to fly a paramotor. The good news is that it becomes significantly less physically demanding and strenuous with practice, and requires only a basic level of physical fitness to begin with. It’s fair to view the fitness level required of an introductory kiting session as being similar to a pick-up game of soccer, basketball, or tennis; a typical forward launch requires a burst of energy over a distance of approx. 25-50 yds, and the typical kiting session generally lasts for about an hour a time outdoors. You should come ready to sweat and expect to feel a bit sore after the first few days—you can probably even expect to lose a few pounds!
We also have exercises that are designed to acclimatize students to the weight, sound, noise, and thrust of a paramotor while on their feet; this is probably the second-most physically challenging aspect of training. Whereas kiting generally requires more cardiovascular endurance (the ability of your heart and lungs to fuel your body with oxygen), managing the weight of the motor and thrust generally requires more muscular endurance (the ability of your muscles to work continuously without getting tired). Think of this as being a similar difficulty level to mowing the lawn with a push mower, or hand-shoveling the driveway. A paramotor loaded with enough fuel for a short training flight typically weighs about 55 lbs.; although this may sound heavy, this weight is only on your feet for short periods of time, and with practice, it becomes manageable for most people—in the past, we’ve had students as light as 110 lbs. footlaunch a 55 lb. machine! Once you have your kiting skills down and motor skills down, and you combine the motor with the wing, certain aspects actually become easier and require much less physical effort!
For the above reasons, we strongly advise students to arrive to training in a good state of physical conditioning which is sustainable throughout the week. If you’re out of shape, this may at first sound daunting or intimidating, but the good news is that the basic level of fitness required is realistic to attain—most people can do it, as long as they want it badly enough! In the past, we’ve even had countless students that have successfully used paramotor training as motivation to get back in shape, quit smoking, or lose weight—sometimes as much as 40+ lbs! Sometimes getting healthy enough starts with changing your diet and watching what you’re eating. If cardio is your weak point, then walking or jogging a mile or two every day will go a long way! There are many callisthenic exercises you can do from home such as air-squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, mountain-climbers, and sit-ups which build both cardiovascular and muscular endurance, and the best part is that you can easily do these on your own time without a gym membership! Students are cautioned against “cramming for the final” and exercising too much/too late in the weeks leading up to training; it’s far better to come to training feeling rested and refreshed rather than starting behind the physical power curve.
As a physical baseline, before beginning training, students should be able to:
Run a mile in 12-15 minutes without stopping.
Lift 55 lbs (or be able to do 12 push-ups at a time).
Squat 100 lbs (or be able to do 20-25 air squats at a time).
Do 25-30 sit-ups in a minute.
Do four 40 yd dashes within 8 minutes, comfortably.
Pass a standard physical (regardless, we recommend consulting with a physician prior to training if you have any health-related concerns).
If you’d like to further gauge your fitness level according to your gender and age group using easy, at-home tests, we recommend checking out https://www.topendsports.com/testing/hometest.htm.
If you have more questions about your current level of physical abilities/conditioning, the fitness level that is expected of the course, or steps you can take to physically prepare yourself for training, please feel free to reach out to us using the contact form below, or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.