Props should be given where props are due. Norway deserves some major props for what just happened in the Olympics.
Now I have a major soft spot in my heart because I had the extreme fortune of getting to spend about 8 months in Norway a couple years ago. I fell in love with the country, the people, and the culture. So, when the Winter Olympics comes around, of course I am cheering for Canada, but now I have a definite number two in Norway. And it just so happens that Norway absolutely destroys the Winter Olympics despite being a tiny country, with only about a 1/6 the population of Canada. So hats off to my Norwegian brothers and sisters.
Since I got to live in the land of Snus and post-workout raisins, I got a fairly good taste of the Norwegian lifestyle and it is not surprising at all to see this small country do so well at the Olympics. Norway loves fitness. Norwegians love working out, hiking, cross-country skiing, and being fit. Plain and simple. For someone whose religion is fitness, I felt at home in Norway where my borderline obsession was rather normal.
Now I am not the only one to notice how impressive the success of Norway as James Fitzgerald from Opex Fitness commented on the domination of the Olympics by such a small country as well. I am sure there is great government funding, etc. in Norway for their athletes, but I want to share a couple things about Norway that perhaps indirectly leads to their success in the winter Olympics. I hope my generalizations don’t offend any Svenn’s or Hilde’s out there :)
Fitness Is Family A Family Tradition?
About half of my remote coaching clients are Norwegian, and I have a story to share about one of my former Norwegian clients that always cracks me up. It was Christmas time, and I had programmed in a week of rest for the holidays thinking this would be welcome. However, my client politely asked me if it was ok if she did some hill-sprints on Christmas Day because it was a family tradition. Seriously, if I asked my family to do that I’d be finding a new last name. As I said fitness rolls deep in Norway.
It Is Normal To Train
I had a good friend from the United States visit me while I was in Norway. He was hanging out at the gym one day while I was finishing up coaching classes and getting in a quick workout. As my friend was conversing with a Norwegian girl at the gym, she of course asked him what he does for training and if he would be working out there today. He relayed that he doesn’t do much lifting, a bit of yoga here and there, and some running. She looked at him with furrowed eye-brows and said in a heavy Grimstad accent, “You do not train?” He might as well have told her that he ate crickets for breakfast. In Norway, not training is weird. Back home it seems quite the opposite.
Biking To the Mall Is Normal (Even in nice clothes)
Norwegians either look like they are going to a dinner party, about to climb a mountain, or pose for a fitness magazine cover. No matter what the attire of the day, something that always amazed me was the people of all ages and outfits could be seen biking. My mode of transportation while I was there was a bicycle, and I often would pass men wearing suits biking to work and you could see women of all ages wearing beautiful dresses biking downtown on the weekends. It helps that the bike lanes in Norway are nicer than the main roads in Saskatchewan where I am from, but biking was a normal mode of transportation. In Saskatchewan if you bike to work you are either a hippy or too poor for a car. In Norway you leave the Tesla at home by choice and take the bike.
Weekends Are For Fitness
Norway is like a concentrated version of Canada when it comes to natural beauty. If you want forests, they are everywhere, coastlines galore, and mountains and fjords decorate the entire country. Because of this I feel like Norwegians have a great connection with their land and generally want to spend time outside. When the weekend is over, if people aren’t stuck in the city (where they’ll be hitting the gym), they will be heading to the mountains to hike or cross-country ski. Back home, there are select groups of people who like hiking and the outdoors and they shop at certain stores, wear certain brands and drive Jeeps or Subaru’s. In other words you can pick ‘outdoorsy types” out in a crowd. In Norway, it seemed like everyone hiked, and damn near everyone ski’d no matter what else they were into. It was not a defining characteristic, it was just part of what people in Norway do.
I made my Mom hike Preikestolen when she visited me, which is an instagram famous hiking trial that ends on Pulpit Rock. This is not an easy hike by any means, as it goes up the side of a mountain and takes a couple hours. However, when were leaving the top, there was a gathering of people (about 20-30) who had hiked up the mountain before a friend to surprise him for a birthday party. Seriously, who does that lol?
They Are Vikings (and a little crazy) It might be the Viking blood or something in the water, but Norwegians are a bit crazy in a good way and aren't afraid of a little discomfort.
Norway is a special country. If Norway was a kid in class it would be that kid who is good looking, gets A’s in every subject, is naturally athletic, and musically talented. And just when you want to hate this kid for being so good at everything, it just so happens he/she is one of the nicest most polite kids in your class.
In a country that takes such pride in fitness it is no surprise to see them dominate on the world stage!