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Now This Is a Workout for the Mind and Body: Mistico Hanging Bridges


I’ve worked out a ton over the years. Many of those workouts were geared toward muscle growth or to hit a specific goal. Other workouts were born out of necessity to keep my heart in good working order, and yet others were just for the fun of it. But out of all of those many workouts, none has been as surreal (or as heart palpitating) as my trek through the Mistico Hanging Bridges of Arenal National Park in Costa Rica.

Let me begin my workout tale with a couple of facts. I hate heights and hate suspended bridges. (Especially after my architect husband explained how they are held up only by two thin tension cables and a bit of prayer.) Nevertheless, if you want to experience the rainforest of Costa Rica as the monkeys do, a bird’s eye view is your best option.

Mistico Hanging Bridges National Park consists of a two-mile hiking trail strategically laced through the rainforest by way of a series of 16 bridges, six of the suspended variety.

Did I mention I hate heights?


Credit: Bill Timper

The hike into the rainforest was not overly strenuous, and the first bridge, a mere baby spanning only 25 feet, wasn’t so bad. But as we moved along the trail each bridge got progressively longer, the longest of which stretched across a gorge for 318 feet (that’s over the length of a football field to give you a little perspective) with the farthest drop being about 15 stories.

As our little party of six made its way deep into the forest, the sun, which had previously penetrated the thick canopy of leaves, disappeared and rain began to fall. The trail turned slippery and a foggy mist settled in. We donned rain gear and marched along in the eerie gloom, accompanied only by the screech of the howler monkeys in the distance.

Twice we were shown turnouts created for those who no longer chose to venture forth, but I was in it for the long haul. With trepidation I made my way across one bridge, then another, growing more secure with each passing structure.

By the end I was practically a pro, (if a pro holds on to the hand rails and concentrates on putting one foot in front of the other) and finished the hike with a smile on my face.

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. It makes you kinda tough and boosts your self-confidence. Courage is not lack of fear. It’s the act of setting the fear aside and moving forward in spite of your angst.

Most of our fears are unfounded with no real consequence, save for fear of failure or a little embarrassment — neither of which will kill you.

I share my tale of my bridge crossing to entice others to get out of their own comfort zone and try the next scary thing. Sign up for that race, drop into that CrossFit gym or ask him out. It won’t kill you, but I guarantee it will get that heart a-pumping, and that’s a good thing!

What bridge have you crossed lately? Maybe next time I’ll get up the courage and zipline!! —Karen

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