From a view to a thrill

10 January, 2009

Enjoying the physical thrills of the Bond lifestyle.

Omega watch? Check. Savile Row suit? Check. Church's shoes? Check. Do you have the clothes and accessories but still feel something is missing from your quest to assume the lifestyle of the world's most famous secret agent? Perhaps that's because James Bond is more than just a walking mannequin draped in sartorial perfection. Bond is a man driven by his passions, of which fine clothing and expensive watches are but one.

Bond leads an intensely physical life, and takes personal pleasure in engaging in many enjoyable, yet somewhat strenuous activities, sporting and otherwise. Although climbing the looming rocks of St. Cyril, or fighting on the back of a plane in mid-air are beyond the scope of most of us, this article will detail some simple but exciting physical activities that almost any of us may engage in, and allow us a safe taste of the thrilling life of a globe trotting spy.

Adopt a fitness regime

As a former military man, Bond keeps himself extremely fit. Of course, one can assume that during his time in the Royal Navy he engaged in regular strenuous exercise. In his civilian life, however, he seems to have adopted a simple, daily regime of basic exercises that can easily be done at home, without the cost of a gym or exercise equipment. His daily routine is described in the novel "From Russia with Love" as:

  • 20 slow press-ups (push ups), done lingeringly
  • As many straight-leg lifts in the supine position as will make your stomach muscles scream.
  • Enough arm and chest exercises and deep breathing to make you dizzy.
  • 20 toe-touches

It's difficult to be sure exactly what "arm and chest exercises" Fleming was referring to, but you could substitute core exercises, such as lunges, planks, bridges, chin ups, for a great all purpose work out. You could also alternate days with some light cardio, such as jogging, biking, or swimming. A routine such as this probably won't give you a body like Daniel Craig's in "Casino Royale," but it will definitely prepare you for physical activity. After a few weeks, you should be ready to step up to a more strenuous workout if you desire. Always consult with a physician before engaging in any exercise program.

Drive a manual transmission

According to one study, the average commuter spends approximately 480 hours per year in their car. If you're going to spend that much time driving, wouldn't you rather drive like Bond? If you haven't learned yet, you owe it to yourself to learn to drive a stick shift. Few activities will immerse you so much into the world of a dashing secret agent as running through the gears of a manual transmission on a twisting mountain road, listening to the roar of the engine as the car surges forward with each shift.

aston martin dbs
Bond's Aston Martin DBS - photo © Aston Martin

If you are currently in the market for a new car, consider purchasing one with stick shift. Yes, you will have an awkward first week, but once you get the hang of it you will reap the rewards every time you pump the clutch and shift into gear. And the beauty is, you don't even need to own an expensive Aston Martin or BMW to enjoy this activity... even the most basic economy car is more fun to drive in its manual configuration.

If you're not in the market for a new vehicle, consider hiring an instructor for a few lessons. Once you're comfortable using the clutch, you could even rent an exotic sports car for a day, and take a thrilling drive in the country with your own special "Bond Girl." Be sure to pack a picnic lunch, and don't forget the chilled champagne. But please drive safely, and stick to the posted speed limits. After all, as Q once warned Bond, "You have a license to kill, not to break the traffic laws!"

Undersea adventures

From Commander Bond's Royal Navy heritage, to Ian Fleming's love of Jamaica's tropical waters, the ocean has always maintained a strong connection to the Bond series. And the sea, both above and beneath the waves, can play host to an endless variety of thrilling activities for the budding super spy.

When "Thunderball" debuted on theater screens in 1965, scuba diving was an exciting novelty that few viewers had seen, let alone participated in. Now, it is a popular hobby enjoyed by millions across the globe. Almost anyone can learn, and there are dive centers in just about any coastal town that can certify you, and provide you with guides and equipment.

If you happen to be vacationing in a tropical area, most resorts offer scuba classes as well, and can get you certified and diving as quickly as possible. Expect to pay between $700 to $1000 dollars for certification and gear rental, and the classes typically take between 1 - 2 weeks, depending on your instructor. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors operates a website that can locate your nearest dive center, answer general questions, or even help you plan a scuba vacation! Check it out atwww.padi.com.

If all this is a bit too much, why not try snorkeling? Again, just about any coastal zone should have some shallow areas that are suitable for snorkeling, but of course the best spots are found in warmer, tropical waters. Snorkeling requires no special training other than the ability to swim. The gear is inexpensive and takes up little room in a suitcase, so once you own a set of mask, snorkel and fins, bring them along on your next trip! As you relax and kick your way across a tropical reef, imagine you are searching for the entrance to Doctor No's undersea lair, or hunting for the wreck of a lost British spy ship. And be sure to spend some time enjoying the beautiful creatures swimming around you... both the fish and the bikini-clad beauties.

Hit the slopes

Ever since "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," exciting, action packed ski chases have gone hand in hand with Bond. Ian Fleming himself was an avid skier during the roaring twenties, and skiing or other snowbound scenes have appeared in multiple films in the series. And it's not hard to see why... After all, would could be more exciting than speeding down a snow swept mountain, poles tucked under your arms, the frosty breeze blasting across your goggles as you glide into a sweeping turn, sending a spray of white powder into the air?

 


Olin Skis fom OHMSS

Of course, skiing does require being in the proximity of a mountain, but there are numerous ski slops located throughout the world, and chances are at least one or two will be within your reach. And as a beginner, you don't need a world class trail to enjoy the thrills skiing has to offer. Just about any slope will do.

Ski equipment can be quite expensive, but your can always buy used gear, or simply rent from the resort until you feel inclined to by your own. Ski size is based on height and weight, but if you're renting your gear, the rental shop will help you pick the proper size for your level of ability.

Of all the activities in this article, skiing is probably the most physically demanding. Expect to fall quite a bit on your first few runs down the mountain. It will take at least a day or two to learn the basics, so when you plan your trip, try to go for a few days if possible. Condos and rooms generally run the gamut of pricing, so why not ask few friends to join you on your mission, and split the fees? You can also save money on a group lesson this way, which will get you up and skiing even faster. Be sure to ask the resort about any package deals they may have. You may be eligible for a discount if you book your room, lesson, lift tickets and gear rental all at once. And don't forget to pack some warm, stylish clothes for the après ski scene. Inflatable jackets and ski-pole rockets are strictly optional.

This article has offered just a taste of the fun and exciting activities the world has to offer. Surfing, horseback riding, golfing... nearly any sporting activity you can think of has been featured in a Bond film or novel at some point. Why not give one a try? Then, instead of just dressing like Bond, you can feel the same adrenaline pumping thrills he feels on his adventures. And of course, don't forget the indoor sports ... you'll have to figure those out on your own!

© 2009 Andrew Warren


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Comments

Nice job on the article--useful advice.

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