Last updated on November 2nd, 2019
Do you find it tough to maintain your fitness when you’re on the road?
Are you concerned that your health and fitness levels may suffer, especially if you’ve been used to the convenience of a gym or organized classes?
One of the hardest things about fitness is finding a regime that works for you, especially when you’re traveling and house sitting.
It can be difficult to maintain rituals and routines when constantly swapping homes, time zones, cultures and environments. There’s also the effect of climate – humidity and heat can erode you physically and mentally, altitude can suck the living breath out of your lungs, whilst winter and wet seasons can keep you cooped up indoors.
All these factors disrupt your rhythm and limit your options, making it all the more difficult to stay committed to fitness.
So what’s the solution?
Regardless of whether you’re on the road or back at home, it’s not about the latest fad – it’s all about finding what feels right for you mentally, emotionally and physically.
These ten tips and techniques will help you find the right fit solution AND get you on the right track … literally!
10 Top Tips & Techniques for Fitness on the Road
1. Do What You Love to Keep Fit
There’s no point taking on exercise you don’t enjoy. If you do, you are sabotaging your own success before even getting started!
- Do you love the outdoors? Get hiking or biking.
- Are you a water babe? Swim, kayak or experiment with a SUP (stand-up paddle board, great for legs and core).
- Is gentle your pace? Consider Tai Chi, yoga or Qi Qong.
- Do you like something more hard core? Find the nearest weights room, boxing gym or Crossfit Centre.
- Are you more socially orientated? Check out the local gym and Meet-up groups, or find out what the locals do.
During my time in Mexico I kept stumbling across Salsa and Zumba classes in the park. So I heeded the message and joined in. It was fun, social, and for me, hilarious, as I was very uncoordinated!
2. Find Your Own Rhythm
To make exercise an everyday part of your life, it needs to be sustainable. Sustainability comes from practices that naturally fit your rhythm.
If you’re a morning person, take advantage of those special hours of first light to get outside and exercise. But, if end of day feels right and helps you transition from work mode to relax mode, then lock it in. For some, the middle of the day is a great practical break and revs them up for afternoon adventures.
Experiment and find what works for you.
Your body will tell you through ease and flow. If you are mentally push, push, pushing, then maybe the timing or type of activity is not right for you. It is a bit like finding the right pair of shoes – it’s all about the goodness of fit!
It’s often more fun exercising with others, so if you can find someone to join in with your routine, you may find it easier to sustain.
3. Make Fitness Easy & Accessible
Humans tend to over commit and complicate things! The key to success is making exercise easy by using what’s around you.
At the moment I’m beach-side in Ecuador and have a decent size back yard. So my regime is soft sand running with the pups, a mini circuit in the back yard using body weight resistance exercises (see 6 below for examples), and a couple of Apps or YouTube routines.
When I was in Spain looking after a rural property, there was a high level of physicality in maintaining the grounds. My workout came from strimming (weed whacking) paddocks, hill running with the dogs and using the home owner’s rower machine. There was also a truckload of firewood, so I loaded the wheel barrow and hurtled it down the driveway as strength training.
If you’re finding it difficult to work out an easy approach, here’s a handy trick – personify simplicity!
Ask yourself, “What would simplicity do?”
You’ll be amazed at the insights you get. This method of questioning takes you outside your current modes of thinking, providing fresh ideas that are simple to use.
4. Create a Purposeful Activity
Some people get a great deal of joy from exercising, but others simply do not! If you’re finding fitness a challenge or are struggling with motivation, then try creating a link to something that naturally inspires you.
For example, you may have a bunch of adventurous activities on your bucket list that require a certain level of fitness. Perhaps you want to surf a volcano in Nicaragua, or hike to Machu Picchu. Or, there’s a family reunion planned in six months where you want to be fit enough to join the kids and grand-kids in all the fun activities without busting your boiler!
Using the two examples above you would ask yourself the following question, “How does exercising help me achieve my bucket list activities?” or “How does physical activity help me to enjoy my family time better?”
Some people might say, “it doesn’t”, but that’s just judgement and blinkered thinking getting in the way.
I’ve done this exercise with hundreds and hundreds of people and have always found you can jot down 20, 50, or even 100 ways of linking two things together. The more you find, the stronger the link, and the easier it becomes! The key is to open your mind and not evaluate what you are writing. Go through all seven areas of your life: mental, physical, spiritual, social, financial, vocational and family.
And ask yourself, “how does it help me mentally?”, “how does it help me physically?”, and so on. This is a very powerful exercise that helps with the difficult stuff.
By linking to something of a higher value which you are naturally motivated to do, it becomes more purposeful and powerful. It’s like opening the spinnaker on a sail boat. It gives you an immediate turbo boost by turning it from an arduous “have to”, to a wondrous “want to!”
5. Get Comfortable in Your Discomfort
It’s so easy to back off in the face of discomfort and find yourself mouthing the words – “I can’t!”
But that’s where courage and trust steps in.
It’s all about letting go of control and the limiting thoughts that flood your mind. The fastest and easiest way to do this is through a simple balance (or lack of balance) exercise we learned at boxing.
Grab a tennis ball and find a small area where you can twirl free from obstacles. Start bouncing the ball with your hand, then slowly spin yourself around the ball speeding up as much as you can. Observe the feeling in your body and the thoughts going through your head. Most people try to control the spin and the ball, then they realize they can’t!
This, along with the spinning sensation, throws you into immediate discomfort. Many will abort the exercise because it’s so confronting to feel this out of control. What I can promise you is, that when you let go of your mind chatter, relax into the spin and stop trying to consciously control what you are doing, your body will find its own equilibrium. Not surprisingly, your spins become more rhythmic and flowing when you let go of all control.
This exercise is brilliant for helping you let go, increasing your underlying trust, building courage and creating a sense of comfort in uncomfortable situations. These are all essential capabilities, not just for fitness and exercise, but for living a full and vibrant life. Something we all aspire too!
6. Will, Willing, Won’t
Create an “internal contract” with yourself and commit to very little!
The Will, Willing, Won’t Technique is essential for clarity and helps stop you from over committing, becoming overwhelmed or feeling burdened from your “incompletes”.
Here’s how it works:
Identify 3 or 4 commitments that become your “non-negotiables”. These become your primary focus and what you do first.
Mine are currently, 2-3km soft sand running with the pups, 8 minutes of skipping, and a 12 minute mini circuit.
These form the “like to”, “might do” bucket. A bit like a wish list with no obligation, so they become totally guilt free!
When structured and viewed this way, these activities do not consume precious mental energy! The bonus is a clear mental space free of burden!
Currently my “Willing Tos” are doing a couple of online Zumba or Sweaty Betty classes each week.
Identifying what you don’t have the capacity to do is so liberating. It’s permission to let go of mind clutter which means even more clear space to focus on the important things.
On the road I don’t have access to a regular boxing gym. So I don’t compare and compete with what I used to do. I adapt and use what’s available in my house sit. I know I WON’T do external gym sessions or organized events. So I give myself a free pass and let go of any guilt.
7. Use Fitness Apps to Create Good Habits
Accountability and visually seeing your progress increases the likelihood of creating new healthy habits. Phone Apps also eliminate costly gym fees or online programs. Who needs a physical instructor or coach when you can access your own “virtual gym”.
8. Beginners Mindset
Leave judgement at the door! Often we have really high expectations which we judge ourselves against. The result is we brand ourselves as failures whenever we stumble or fall.
The most important thing is to get up and keep going at your own pace. Think of a child learning to walk. When they fall, they don’t berate themselves. Instead they giggle and roll around happily trying to discover how to get up again. So, when you’re learning something new, or you’re transitioning to a new way of living, take delight in adopting a beginners mindset.
Give yourself permission to stumble, wobble, look like a glorious mess, then get up and go again!
Try not to place enormous expectations around mastering the practice immediately. Most importantly, have a laugh and release all that tense energy! Otherwise you are just building a pressurized situation. We all know what happens when we build pressure without a release valve… it leads to melt down or worse, an explosion!
9. Healthy Venting
Exercise is the best healthy venting scenario you’ll find. I don’t mean to be crass, but you can “spew” all those junk thoughts and toxic energy in a safe non harmful way, leaving your body and mind more relaxed and at peace. This is motivation alone. Combined with the added benefit of a more restful night’s sleep… how can you resist!
10. Make Exercise a Way of Life
Being more active can be as simple as a series of choices that become a way of life. Try these simple adjustments to increase the number of steps you take a day:
- use the stairs not the elevator or escalator
- avoid travelators in airports
- walk or bike to the shops
- do arm lifts with your shopping on your way home
- when waiting in a line or hanging at an airport do neck stretches, shoulder rotations and knee bends
- if you do a lot of bus travel get off a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way
- hang the washing out instead of using a dryer!
There are so many easy alternatives to get you moving… have some fun and be creative!
How do you make exercise work for you when you’re on the road?
BIO – Jenny Lincoln is a Human Behaviour Specialist traveling and house sitting her way around the world. Her teachings help open the hearts and minds of those seeking to live a true and authentic life. Her practices enable people to create courage so they can move beyond limited thinking and fear based actions, to the expansive space of open-hearted leadership and living. You can catch her on Instagram.