How To Stay Fit While Traveling

Several years back, I joined the gym with the purpose of putting on muscle mass. I was eating a lot of calories and going through a disciplined routine. And it was working.

Until the summertime came.

My job took me out of town for weeks at a time where I was at the mercy of other people’s cooking and other people’s schedules. I lost what I gained and learned an important truth: Staying fit isn’t something you do once and done. It’s a lifestyle and a daily choice.

Miami Fitness TV-46I still want that for my life. To eat right and exercise. But I’ve been living out of a backpack for a couple of years now and spending my money on snorkeling and bungee jumping, not gym memberships. I come back to the question: How do I reconcile the two? How can I, in a practical way, stay fit while traveling?


Start With Expectations

Looking like Superman takes some serious commitment. One needs to spend a significant amount of mulah on proper food, supplements, and workout equipment. For me, that’s not currently a feasible reality. That’s not where my priorities are.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t stay fit.

My “all or nothing” attitude tends to keep me in the nothing category. “If I can’t put on massive amounts of muscle, I just won’t workout at all” is not entirely helpful in this situation. Having some reasonable and realistic expectations of fitness levels will be the first step in looking and feeling better than you currently do.

When I think about my ideal self-image, I recognize that more often than not, I am not content with the way I was made. I want to change aspects of myself. I want to look like someone else. I want to be the awe of Hollywood. And I’ve bought into the lie that I’m not enough. I forget that who I am and the way I look have inherent value and I don’t need to look any other way in order to earn that value. Learning to respect myself is the beginning of having healthy expectations for a lifestyle which honors my body.

Our bodies are wonderful gifts given us. I want to spend more time being thankful and less time complaining or wishing I was different. Once I do that, I can then adopt habits of fitness which keep me strong and active, even if they don’t put me on the cover of GQ.

Utilize Surroundings

It’s not every day that the Great Wall is at your doorstep. Unless you, like, live near the Great Wall which I suppose proves the previous statement false. Regardless, here is a man-made running track which also happens to be one of the Wonders of the World. How about them apples?

Maybe you’re on the coast or a lakeside or have a favorite public fountain nearby? What are you waiting for? Put your swimmers on and dive in! There is no end to what you might encounter – sunken treasure, the Loch Ness Monster, or enough pocket change to buy your morning coffee. Either way, it’s an adventure. Plus, if the water is cold, it becomes a character building exercise as well. Win/win, my friend.

I’ve come across public parks with bars and workout equipment for patrons. I’ve hiked trails up mountainsides located a few minutes from where I’m staying. I’ve joined local groups who practice and play sport; staying fit and building community all rolled into one. I’ve taken long walks along beaches. The only limit to our fitness is the limit of our ability to creatively utilize Mother Earth. The world is our workout playground with some seriously spectacular scenery.

May it not pass us by just because we don’t have to pay for it.

Don’t Let Gravity Bring You Down

I weighed every item in my backpack to the nearest ounce in order to shed any excess, so as much as I wanted to, my 25 pound dumbbells didn’t quite make the cut. It was either them or all of my clothes. And since “The Naked Traveler” domain name was already taken…

One of the best ways I’ve found to stay fit on the road is to use my own bodyweight. There are an incredible amount of exercises for us to do just using what the good Lord gave us. Whether the goal is putting on weight, losing weight, increasing cardio fitness, becoming more flexible, or trying to balance flaming chainsaws on your chin while standing on one foot, you simply don’t need one of those machines Chuck Norris tries to sell you on late night infomercials. You already have what you need.

The secret is being taught how to use it.

A quick search through the app store or Google or YouTube will elicit a wealth of resources from fitness gurus who can teach you how to best utilize your bodyweight to make positive strides in your health and well-being. If you have a local library, there are, no doubt, several books and DVDs which can walk you through yoga poses or knee strengthening exercises. Do some research on your goals and find a program or routine which suits you for this season of your life.

Adapting Builds Your Adapting Muscles

Do the good you can do today. In physical fitness as well as all other areas of life, work towards good today. If it’s not a two-hour Zumba blast session, maybe you can spare 15 minutes to get your heart rate pumping with push-ups or a jump rope.

Traveling is adapting.

We do the best with whatever comes our way. Sometimes you’ll have access to a friend’s benchpress or treadmill. Sometimes you’ll have to maneuver to find a floor space long enough to do a sit-up. And sometimes all you have time for is jumping jacks or a stroll through the park.

We adapt, holding to the mindset of staying healthy and honoring our bodies, using them to their full potential and pushing them past previous limits in order that we may fully enjoy the world through them.

The time may certainly come when you are more stable and have a bit of extra money to spend on eating all the right foods and going to the flash new gym across town. But for now, you really don’t want to miss the street food or forsake the Bedouin experience all because your money is being swallowed in expensive workout contraptions or gym access. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit, either.

Find a way. Toss the excuses and make a way. You owe it to yourself.

You’ve always had that strength.

Please share!

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