Need a Challenging Workout? Try Working as a Whitewater Rafting Guide

Whitewater rafting boats at the dam

Photo: Flickr

Whitewater rafting guides are constantly paddling, picking up rafts, swimming and running up long flights of stairs. As you can imagine, this job isn’t a sedentary one and the physical demands are surprisingly similar to training in a gym.

Pulling Rafts = Cable Face Pull

Inflating rafts is a challenging and physical part of the job. Each rafting company only has a certain amount of space near the dam where each trip begins. If we need to inflate a lot of rafts in our limited space, we end up stacking them on top of each other. Two people are on the trailer inflating a boat, while one or two people are in charge of pulling the raft off the trailer and stacking it. The pulling motion is similar to a cable face pull, engaging the rear delts, trapezius and biceps. The higher the stack is, the more strenuous it becomes for the crew.

Stacking Rafts = Deadlift, Upright Row and Overhead Press

Typically, a stack has five rafts. Once we have three rafts arranged, a team member must climb on top to pull the fourth and fifth up. The pulling motion is very similar to a deadlift. The guide on top of the stack has to squat down on the edge and grab the rope around the boat being passed up. The glutes, lats, traps, biceps and erector spinae become engaged in this movement. Two or three guides will pick the boat off the ground as if they’re doing an upright row. Then the guides will shift their hands under the rubber of the raft, bend the knees and press up like an overhead press. As you can imagine, doing this is demanding to the delts, quads and triceps.

Working as a guide is a great way to challenge yourself and stay in shape. Consider getting paid for your next gym session and become a whitewater rafting guide!

Learn more about the athleticism of whitewater rafting and chart your path towards achieving your fitness goals

Julian Jackson Julian Jackson
Originally from the Netherlands, Julian now resides in Maine and works as a whitewater rafting guide. With a degree in health, he specializes in functional fitness, bodybuilding and powerlifting. Julian enjoys studying nutrition and believes fueling the body with proper foods and nutrients is vital to physical performance. As a certified personal trainer, his greatest passion is motivating others to adopt a healthy lifestyle.


Can't Get On the Water to Try Out Whitewater Rafting?

Train your muscles to excel at the sport in the meantime and improve your overall fitness with the Cybex Workout Center. These programs will help increase quickness, speed, strength, agility and stamina - all while reducing your risk of sports-related injury.



Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment. Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness and should not be taken as medical advice. As always, be sure to consult a physician if you are unsure of your individual exercise readiness or have a pre-existing medical condition. While these programs offer great benefits, there are many considerations that should be weighed before attempting any type of physical activity.

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