Read her story, then pursue a spiritual workout of your own

By By Rachel Jager as told to Mary Anderson
June 18, 2018
Photo: Rachel Jager

Reeling in a muskie fish comes with a battle royale. Rachel Jager, 29, describes how that duel is the best physical and mental workout.

"They call muskies the fish of 10,000 casts. They're elusive but big, with long, sharp teeth. Here in the Midwest, the ones longer than 50 inches are considered the biggest of the big. And so, while fishing one night a couple of summers ago, I knew by the way my line was jerking hard that a muskie was at the end, shaking its head to get loose. It felt like reeling in a car, but I wasn't about to give up.

I'd discovered absolute peace in fishing. On weekends, my boyfriend and I would head to our cabin on the lake in Wisconsin to fish for muskies, standing in a rocking boat for 12 hours with eight-and-a-half-foot rods in hand. Most people don't have the endurance for it. But the spiritual workout was truly where I found myself. To me, it's kind of like conquering the long distances I run. I don't think of the full seven miles; I just focus on the hill in front of me. With muskies, it's the next of 10,000 casts.

Back on the boat that summer night, it was nearing midnight on our third day of fishing. I was shaking as the muskie tugged. My boyfriend kept offering to reel it in, but I knew I had to do this for myself. By the time I brought in the muskie-a full 52 inches long-I could barely hold it up. Yet, in that moment, I felt my strongest self. And it was so empowering that I didn't sleep at all that night." (Related: Epic Water Sports You'll Want to Try and 4 Women Who Crush Them)

Ready to try fishing? Here's some of the gear you'll need.

Find Your Spiritual Workout

Certain kinds of exercise can push you not just physically but emotionally and spiritually too, says Stephanie Ludwig, Ph.D., the director of Spiritual Wellness at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Spiritual workouts tend to be rhythm-based (running, swimming, rowing) and let you focus inward on the physical sensation. (Related: How Mindful Running Can Help You Get Past Mental Roadblocks.) "The experience is one of feeling profoundly alive at that particular moment," she says. Discover yours.