By Aimee Mittermayer
“We paddled between 30 and 40 something kilometres a day, every day for 12 days." - Thomas Vos (student and adventurer)
For Thomas, an ideal December holiday means canoeing with a group of friends along the Orange River, through Lesotho and into South Africa, for 12 days. It is this kind of adventure-fitness which makes it easy for him to stay fit and healthy. The lengths that he goes to in order to stay moving and to stay active does not seem to be a chore, but rather, a way of living.
Thomas Vos was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya before moving to the Eastern Cape in 2004. He attended Graeme College where he participated in almost all the sports the school was capable of offering; cricket, hockey, rugby, water polo and swimming to name a few.
However, sports and activities situated outdoors are the ones which really tap into his happy place. These include trail running, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, surfing, spear fishing, free diving, mountain biking and “some [sports] that don’t even have names."
“It just gives me peace of mind and I suppose it’s a good release.”
Now, a second year student, Thomas Vos continues to explore the world of sport and his body’s capabilities. He is appropriately majoring in Human Kinetics and Ergonomics, which can only enrich his already extensive knowledge of sport and the functioning of the human body. ‘Holistic’ is the only word which could describe his approach to health and fitness. He mainly trains for functionality and has no set fitness regime other than the fact that he makes sure that, every day, he does an hour of physical activity which exhausts him entirely.
“It makes you focus; it makes you think more clearly."
His week is never the same as the one before. He switches between running, swimming and various other activities in order to keep his mind and body awake and adaptable. His thoughts are similarly holistic when it comes to food and says that he makes sure “to eat a good balance of non-refined food."
Thomas Vos especially enjoys free diving and spear fishing. At the age of 15, whilst free diving off Dias Cross near Kenton On Sea, he encountered his first great white shark. On his last dive down before calling it a day, he hid himself in the crags of the reef on the sea bed in order to hide himself from the fish he was there to catch. He describes the shark drifting in suddenly and looking incredibly majestic - which also implies that he was in no serious danger and swam away from the experience unscathed. This encounter must have been unreal as Thomas still recalls it as being a highlight of his sporting career.
Thomas Vos brings creativity to the seemingly monotonous part of the fitness world, which includes the exceptionally stationary treadmill and rowing machine. These fitness apparatuses are not to be looked down upon, but running on a trail through dense forest or paddling against strong rapids is a different experience all together. It activates all the senses, allows the body to adapt to different environments and draws the mind back to the present. Thomas Vos reminds us that taking care of our minds and bodies does not have to be an arduous task, it can be what you feel your body should be doing or it could be coming into contact with a great white shark, either one.
“The idea is to be the jack of all trades, but master of none…or you can be the master of some. You mix everything together and it keeps you learning, keeps you going."