Quick tips and tricks on how to travel and work out in remote areas of the world where gyms are inaccessible and working out for fun isn't the norm.
Whether you’re traveling for a few days or a few months, your workout routine isn’t something you have to leave at home. For me, fitness is more than just trying to stay physically healthy, but also staying emotionally and spiritually healthy.
I know that if I can get a workout in while traveling, I will be more productive and alert, and I will feel and sleep better (which is always a struggle while on the road). If you are staying in hotels that have quality gyms, you might not have much of an issue. But if you are in the jungles of the Amazon or the bush of Africa or even just couch-surfing domestically, figuring out how to get a workout in can be a little more complicated.
When I lived overseas, I had to have special considerations as to how and where I could work out. While I was traveling every few days within the U.S., I had to figure out workout routines that could be done anywhere and without equipment. But whether I was living in East Africa or traveling around the U.S. for work, I made it a priority to get active.
If you are traveling to a developing country or a culture that is very different from yours, balancing reputation and relationships in your host culture with having a workout routine can be a little tricky. Here are some essential things to consider about your host culture before you throw on some yoga pants or strip off your shirt on a long run.
Knowing the culture is critical. In one country I was in, there was a large, rocky mountain that would have been perfect for rock climbing. When I asked a national friend if they have ever been there, they said only once because that was a sacred place for the local witch doctors. Anyone who tried to come near would have rocks thrown at them. I always asked a few of my national friends their opinion before I ever tried something. When in doubt, ask a trusted person before you work out.
In many cultures, it’s not normal for women to exercise in public. So, find out. Is it appropriate for women to bike? To run? Can men and women exercise together? In East Africa, it was okay for men to run, but very uncommon for women to run. I could have gone for a run, but my neighbors would see that as very strange for a female. As I was trying to build relationships with them intentionally, I realized running could be a potential barrier in the way of forging friendships. Clothing is also a consideration for both genders. Is it appropriate to wear shorts? Or a tank tops? Again, know your host culture.
What saved me while traveling and living overseas was having a fitness app on my phone. I could download videos when I had WiFi. I didn’t need much space. I kept a consistent workout routine while traveling a lot within the US, and when I was in East Africa, I could do the workouts safely out of view from my African neighbors.
Doing Beachbody workout videos with some weighted water bottles allowed me to balance a good reputation in my community, a consistent workout routine while traveling, and staying healthy—physically and emotionally. Traveling can mean sacrificing preferences when it comes to working out. Yet with a little forethought and creativity, we can still find ways to steward our health.
Some apps that have been helpful:
Many of these workouts can easily be done inside or in confined spaces. (Do be mindful of the jumping exercises if you’re above the ground floor. The people below you may not appreciate your early-morning jumping jacks!) No matter what your constraints are, you can still create an excellent circuit workout using different combinations of these exercises:
Want to add some weight to your workout? Here are some easy ideas:
If it is culturally appropriate and safe, these are great cardio workouts and burn some calories. Again, just make sure to ask the right questions beforehand.
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