What do Dan Akerman and Ben Stiller have in common? Akerman is a special risk insurance underwriter; Stiller played one in Along Came Polly. Jennifer Aniston’s Polly enticed Stiller to throw out his actuarial tables and take risks. Akerman’s siren calls to him from 29,029 feet above sea level. Akerman will answer that call sometime in May when he summits Mount Everest. This journey will exact every gram of mind, body and spirit that Akerman has fortified during his climbs of the past seven years.
Part of that fortification to climb the remote reaches of the world was provided remotely by Maria Faires, Personal Trainer & Registered Dietitian. byteclay.com spoke with Ms. Faires about how she prepared Dan Akerman for the biggest day of his life. The Washington based trainer has designed the training programs for The American Lung Association’s Climb for Clean Air Fitness. She climbed Mt. Rainier with this fundraising program in 2004 and 2005.
Mark Davis: You live near Seattle and Dan lived in San Francisco. How did you train together?
Maria Faires: He is the most motivated person I’ve ever trained. I started with an extensive series of fitness tests that I have my remote clients do in their homes. Of course he did that perfectly. We discussed the results and based on his climbing goals, I developed a fitness program. I wrote down his program with the recommended order of exercises and the sets and reps. I had each exercise with a written description and either a picture or if it was more complex, a video that I found online demonstrating good form. He would go try it and then we would discuss the exercises and any questions he might have. It’s not very high-tech, it’s pretty old fashioned but it works. It’s probably a whole lot more work for me versus going to PT on the Net and just clicking which exercises I wanted him to do and sending them.
MD: You’re going to have the best endorsement in the entire world when he summits Everest.
MF: He’s done so well. Every summit he has had; he’s been really strong. Dan’s guide told him, “You are the single fittest client that I have ever worked with, what are you doing?”
I’m a climber so I know what it takes. It is very comprehensive with cardio intervals to train the various energy systems, he’s doing endurance intervals for the aerobic system, lactate threshold intervals for his lactate system, lactate tolerance for his lactate system, sprint intervals for his phosphate system in addition to steady-state exercise, weight training, flexibility, foam rolling. Everything I can think of, he’s doing and then some. Does he get burned out sometimes? Yeah, that’s a lot of time in the gym. I have to remind him, hey, you’re the one who wants to climb the big mountains. You’ve got to work out harder than the rest of us (laughs). His fitness level means the difference between life and death and success and failure. The only technology we used was the phone, email and his heart rate monitor.
MD: Did he upload his heart rate data to you?
MF: In the beginning, I would have him track his workouts and he would share what his heart rate went to, how he felt and so forth. He and I learned through trial and error how he was doing.
MD: What specific fitness assessments did you do on Dan?
MF: I had him do the one-mile walk test, the twelve-minute run test. I had him do a lactate test. I had him do pushups, squat test, flexibility test and body fat.
MD: How did you test his body fat?
MF: He went somewhere and had that done.
byteclay.com will post Dan Akerman’s dispatches from Nepal as he climbs to the top of Earth. Whether the air is thinner or the airtime is pricier, we will let you know what is going on. Stay tuned…