Terra Incognita Fitness Mission:
We believe in blue-sky thinking and challenging societal norms. We’re confronting these norms by empowering people to find low/no-cost workout solutions. Promoting independence, non-equipment based outdoor fitness training and improvised gym equipment is what we’re all about.
John Allison, MSc MA FRGS
John founded Terra Incognita Fitness (TIF) in 2012, upon completion of 24 years of service with British Army. He went on to develop two distinct outdoor training disciplines, Streetgym® for the urban environment and Natgym® for the rural.
From a very early age John developed a passion for the great outdoors. His grandfather owned a wood in Devon and built a jungle gym out of tree branches salvaged from the forest floor. Many hours were spent playing in the jungle gym, swimming in the brook, climbing trees and generally seeking out unexplored land.
Having joined the military in 1987 with a thirst for adventure John quickly grasped every opportunity to participate in challenging events around the world, including major expeditions to the inhospitable island of South Georgia in the Antarctic and the Denali mountain range in Alaska. John became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1992.
Whilst serving on operations with the military in remote locations John and his colleagues frequently had to improvise a gym/training area and this led to an interest in non-equipment, non-traditional forms of exercise, including training in confined spaces, StreetGym and NatGym style workouts. In more peaceful times John held various military outdoor training qualifications and organised adventure training packages for troops in the Scottish Highlands.
During a period of service in Germany John enjoyed competing in a number of mountain races in Bavaria and the Harz mountains. He’s also completed a number of Via Ferratta/Klettersteig routes in these areas and the Italian Dolomites too. In 2009 he completed the world’s most southerly AIMS-certified marathon in the Falkland Islands and continues to enjoy preparing for and competing in adventure/obstacle events including Mudrunner, Salomon Turbo-X, Tough Mudder and Spartan. As lead instructor for TIF and founder, John is now able to share his wealth of experience more widely. He seeks to inspire/motivate others, enhance team cohesion, personal resilience and build confidence using the medium of outdoor fitness coaching.
Terra Incognita Fitness core values:
Empowering people – We are about empowering, not enslaving you. Our sessions are designed to educate as well as train you and that makes us unique. It’s our mission to show you how to use your own outdoor environment safely and effectively, to give you the confidence to workout yourself without a personal trainer or gym facilities. We aim to provide you with the skills and confidence to train outdoors by yourself should you wish to do so. Empowering people is what we do, it’s our mission.
Sharing – The lead TIF instructor was immersed in outdoor fitness activities from a very early age and went on to acquire 24 years of outdoor, military and civilian physical training experience that we now want to share with you. We believe that there are huge health benefits to be had from partaking in our highly innovative, outdoor fitness activities.
No equipment/no gym – TIF do not believe in buying expensive equipment or going along with the latest equipment trend so we’re different to most fitness companies. We believe in using bodyweight exercises and improvising, where necessary, training equipment from local, readily available resources. We developed these skills whilst deployed on military operations in remote locations for many years. We don’t want you to spend lots of money on equipment because you really don’t have to. This means that you get to learn new skills that you can take with you anywhere in the world, any time, for life. We don’t believe in the concept of a traditional gym, with a little creativity and knowledge you can workout in your own environment, for free
Teamwork – Coming from a military background we are used to working with others as part of a tight-knit team. We have a leave no one behind ethos and when running group sessions we expect to see individuals helping/encouraging less able members to conquer their fears and push on when the going gets tough. When conducting one to one sessions we will continue to instill our team ethos.
Shared adversity - Incredible bonds of friendship/comradeship can be forged between individuals who have shared the same difficult or unpleasant situations. In the military such situations typically occur on whilst undergoing arduous training or on the battlefield. At TIF we aim to recreate arduous conditions in a safe and controlled manner in order to foster these bonds of friendship and promote teamwork. A team should also work hard and play hard so we encourage you to join us for social events throughout the year.
Build mental strength – All too often people tend to focus on the physical aspects of training outdoors, while the mental elements are ignored. We like to operate in adverse weather conditions and believe that training in bad weather promotes mental resilience, develops your ability to operate safely/effectively and boosts confidence. We believe that anyone can operate in a conventional gym but fewer people have the mental strength to train outdoors in the elements.
Environmental/Situational Awareness – TIF is passionate about the outdoor environment, quite simply it’s our office and therefore we want to preserve it for others and the future generation. We aim to leave no trace wherever we go. We believe in encouraging people to take a deeper interest in their local surroundings, be it an urban or rural setting. People often look but don’t see. Spend time with TIF and you will see your surroundings in a completely different light. In the rural environment you will feel more at one with nature and in urban territory the concrete and steel will take on a whole new meaning.
Don’t follow the herd – We don’t believe in towing the party line and we don’t follow the herd. We believe in creativity, innovation, blue sky thinking and freedom. We exist to challenge the norm and old fashioned ideology and we want our clients to think the same way.
All photos/material © 2016 Terra Incognita Fitness (UK)