Do You Have What It Takes To Hike The Tallest Mountain In Africa? This Woman Did!

Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio

April is Move More month, making it an excellent time for people to consider their physical activity goals. If ever there was a time that people wanted to challenge themselves, now is the time to do it. That's exactly what one woman from Fredericksburg, Virginia, did when she joined 11 others and headed off to hike the tallest mountain in Africa. While she may not have known if she had what it took to summit the mountain, she was willing to try it, and that's where such an adventure begins.

"Most people fear taking on something so challenging, and I get it, but without doing so, you will never know the rewards of having completed it," explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “Challenging ourselves in such a way has a profound impact and changes us for the better.” 

Scherer, 37, was the youngest of the group, which was made up mostly of people in their 60s and 70s. Excited about the challenge she agreed to, she set out to determine what she would need and to get her plans for the trip ready. She wasn't prepared for how cold it would be making the trek up the mountain. She shivered so much that she couldn't sleep at night and didn't know if she would make it to the top. A fellow hiker gave her a heavier jacket, which warmed her enough to push through. 

So, what does it take to get moving and finish such a monumental accomplishment? Here are some key things that helped Scherer be successful: 

Mindset. This is crucial because it's what will set you on the path and keep you pushing through it. Scherer focused her thoughts on her training program and how to prepare physically for the demands of the hike. Prior to the trip, she did long-distance hikes every other weekend, looking for challenging trails. She even traveled to Colorado to see how her body would respond to a 14,000-foot elevation. That hike helped her feel more confident about climbing Mount Kiliminjaro’s 19,340 feet.

Logging daily. Each day, she kept a log of the mileage she had hiked that day, along with the name of the camp where they lived and the elevation. This helped put the 8-day hike into perspective, and she could track her progress daily, which was a motivating factor.

Mental and physical toll. Pushing through the hike, especially on the cold nights, took a lot of mental fortitude. The physical toll largely came from the altitude, making breathing difficult. Once she reached the high camp, with an elevation of over 16,000 feet, walking from the tent to the chemical toilet would leave her breathless. Even falling asleep was difficult because she felt she wasn't getting enough oxygen. Being mentally and physically ready for such a hike is crucial.

Expect challenges. Taking on something like this will present various challenges beyond the obvious ones. Scherer found it difficult to go eight days without a shower, had limited clothing, and could not get the amount of protein she needed, leaving her never feeling satiated. As a result of insufficient protein, combined with the amount of exercise she was doing, she lost nine pounds on the trip, four of which were lean muscle mass. As a registered dietician, she knew her body needed more protein; if she had it to do over again, she would take powdered protein to add to her water.

Make a plan. Work with someone who has completed the climb and can provide tips on preparing for the mental and physical demands. Get as much experience climbing at high altitudes as possible, and hike with a backpack to help condition the body to carry the extra weight. Pay particular attention to strengthening the hamstrings, gluteus muscles, and quadriceps. Set up a training plan that includes reformer Pilates, kickboxing, cardio, and total-body circuit training.

“The feeling when you are standing at the top is indescribable. I was emotional, almost a feeling of disbelief that I overcame and conquered the mountain despite the cold temps, migraine, and breathlessness,” added Scherer. “I now feel calm about my life, feeling more relaxed than ever. I think I put so much pressure on myself to be fully prepared with all the right gear and proper training that once I reached the summit, all the anxiety left my body, and I was filled with a deep sense of peace and contentment about the accomplishment. It certainly leaves you with a sense that you can do anything you put your mind to!”

Those who want to make a goal of moving more can start with some shorter walks and hikes and work their way up. Scherer can put together a program to help with goals to move more and improve dietary habits. Scherer is a registered dietitian nutritionist who helps people improve their diet, plan for sustainable weight loss, and learn to include healthier food choices. She and her team offer nutrition coaching services, wellness, acupressure, personal training, in-home medical training, virtual personal training, and a Pilates reformer program, which features a versatile machine designed to provide resistance. It can be used when standing, sitting, or lying down. All workouts on it are custom-tailored for the individual to address their physical fitness concerns. 

Fredericksburg Fitness Studio doesn't offer memberships as other gyms do. They offer private customized fitness programs that are available by appointment. Many people who go to the studio are referrals from physical therapists and doctors. The wellness professionals at the studio communicate with the medical teams to keep them up to date on patient progress. To learn more about Fredericksburg Fitness Studio, visit the site:



Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio

Cher Murphy

Cher Murphy, owner of Cher Murphy PR, brings with her a wealth of experience in covering a variety of interesting fields. As an expert in public relations, she works with clients in some of the most popular sectors, including health and wellness, education, restaurants, travel, and entertainment. With a nose for news and a gift of professional presentation, she is able to deliver high quality, ent...(Read More)

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