15th January – 11th March 2014
South East Asia Travels:
At the beginning of last year, I went travelling with one of my oldest school friends. In the July before I had finally finished full time education and wasn’t ready to settle into work. I had a month off in August where I went on a wonderful holiday to Majorca with my family and took some much needed chill time as I knew what was to come. From September until the week before I left for my travels in January I was working crazy busy weeks and a total of 9 jobs; these included Lifeguarding at 2 centres, teaching spin classes at 3 centres, part time fitness instructing, gymnastics coaching at 2 schools and being a masseuse with whatever time I had left. Luckily, I enjoyed all of these jobs but is not something I could sustain for long. In the September I had planned and booked my travels so going to work and doing nothing else was easy as I knew what I had to look forward too.
I have always loved travelling and have been fortunate to go to some wonderful places growing up within the UK and Europe. However, going travelling for 2 months with just one friend and a back pack was going to be a whole new experience, especially being my first trip outside of Europe.
The plan was set… fly into Bangkok and stay for a few nights, travel up to Umphang, North of Thailand to work and stay in an elephant sanctuary for 7 nights before travelling back down to Bangkok. From Bangkok we had booked a “hop on hop off” bus to stop at every major destination down the country from Bangkok through Thailand, including all of the islands; Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi etc… through mainland Malaysia stopping at Cameron Highlands, Penang, Kuala Lumpar, Melaka, and finally ending in Singapore to stay for 2 nights before flying out, stopping in Dubai for 5 nights on route home.
Could it be any better?! Nope, it really was the most magical trip full of beautiful places, interesting people, unforgettable and moving experiences and the most fun I’ve had in my life – and all shared with one of my closest friends.
Anyway, this post is not focussing on my travels it’s about how to stay fit whilst travelling! If you are interested in my travels of South East Asia, maybe you are considering it yourself, please feel free to comment with any questions and my full travel blog can be found here: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/sjganderton/2/tpod.html
Here are a few of my favourite photos from my travels:
I could not have been more excited to go travelling and explore the world and some may say it is silly that the main worry I had was the gym sessions I would miss. For somebody that taught 4 spin classes a week and found it harder to take a rest day that to get to the gym, the prospect of having 2 months of neither was making me concerned. Fitness may be my lifestyle but I do know there is more to life than the gym, and I was faced with a huge opportunity so I was not going to spend my travels hunting for the nearest squat rack. I had to improvise!
In all honesty I found it easier than expected and was having the time of my life so wasn’t thinking so much about missing the exercise. When I arrived in Bangkok we had a hotel for 2 nights which had a gym and a swimming pool which was great straight after arriving to beat the jet lag. Around Bangkok was mostly walking or a tuk tuk taxi, bar one day we did a tour guide led cycle tour of the city shown in my picture below; we must have clocked up a great distance as we cycled for more than 5 hours only stopping at each landmark for a few minutes.
Travelling up to the mountains to a remote village where the temperatures reached 40 degrees in the day and less than 10 degrees by night. This was going to be the challenge staying here for 7 nights. Within the time I stayed in the sanctuary I stuck to squats, press ups, burpees, lunges and crunches in our wooden hut of a bedroom plus 2 very short runs in the scorching heat around the village.
The whole week was incredibly active so I didn’t have to worry about eating 3 portions of carbs a day provided by the Thai family we stayed with – rice or noodles, rice or noodles, rice or noodles?
Our mornings were spent bathing, walking and looking after the elephants followed by afternoons trekking up mountains, jumping off water falls, white water rafting, exploring remote villages or cutting down bamboo trees for the elephants. Shown in my pictures below:
Once travelling down to the beaches I stuck to workouts on the beach and in our hostel rooms (looking like a lunatic no doubt). Mostly body weight exercise, high intensity if I could, ensuring I would challenge my heart rate up to my peak as often as possible. To add additionally weight I would use the 100litre back pack I was carrying around most days to guarantee a really tough workout. I also took the opportunity to try some fitness classes and see what this side of the world has to offer! I did a yoga class on Sairee Beach in Koh Tao, a thai boxing class in Koh Phangan and also learnt to scuba dive over 4 days in Koh Tao also.
Being in a bikini for most of the trip was also great motivation to not be slacking. The constant active, busy days exploring were a big help too. South East Asia certainly has fantastic food and drink on offer and I was in my element trying it ALL. Every street you walk down is stall to stall with fresh juices, fruit and thai food which helped a lot when making the right choices. A fresh chicken pad thai for dinner and a fruit smoothie totalling the equivalent to roughly £2 was a bonus. We even did a night food tour of the city trying most of the street food with other tourists! We saw some amazing things in all of the places we visited and my love and appreciation of food grew greater. Some shown in the pictures below:
Once we reached our final destination, Dubai, everything came together! After nearly 2 months of making do with creative workouts, I was so ready to get back to some weights. Dubai was a dream, we were staying in a beautiful gym with a wonderful swimming pool, an adequate gym, a huge comfortable bed, a television and a hot running shower! After the most wonderful end to the travels exploring the city and relaxing in the hotel, beaches and shopping malls I felt so revitalised and ready to come back to England.
Surprisingly, I had lost weight, only a few pounds but that is quite significant for myself. I think this was due to not eating what I normally would, which is normally 5 smaller meals a day or 3 meals and snacks; whilst travelling I would have a full meal for lunch or dinner, a snack around this with juices or whatever was around depending on where we were, with the odd crepe or ice cream. This was mainly due to money and being so busy travelling around. My body shape or muscle mass hadn’t changed a lot, however, my fitness had dropped a little and my strength had dropped significantly! Getting back to my pre-travelling strength and fitness took a good month of some really hard workouts but it was all worth it.
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL FITNESS TIPS:
- STAY HYDRATED
- BODY WEIGHT EXERCISE IS JUST AS EFFECTIVE: BURPEES, LUNGES, SQUATS, JUMPING JACKS, PLANKS
- ADD SOME INTENSITY, A HIIT WORKOUT CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE FOR 20 MINUTES – LIFT THAT HEART RATE, NO EQUIPMENT NECESSARY
- STRETCH AND STAY MOBILE, IT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL FRESH AND KEEP YOUR BLOOD FLOW TO YOUR MUSCLES STRONG
- DON’T OVER EAT OR UNDER EAT – EAT TO FUEL YOUR BODY, CONSIDER WHAT YOUR ACTIVITY LEVEL HAS BEEN THAT DAY!
- BE VERY CAREFUL EXERCISING IN HOT WEATHER – I CUT MY RUNS TO HALF THE DURATION DUE TO THE HOT WEATHER
- REST DAYS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT – LET YOUR BODY RECOVER AND ENJOY YOUR TIME AWAY
- CHOOSE TO WALK RATHER THAN TAKING A TAXI OR PUBLIC TRANSPORT FOR SHORT DISTANCES, WALKING YOU CAN SEE SO MUCH MORE!
- LUGGAGE IS HEAVY – USE IT FOR ADDITIONAL WEIGHT
- TRY WHATS ON OFFER – I LOVED ALL OF THE CLASSES I TRIED AND REALLY MADE ME FEEL PART OF THE COMMUNITY I WAS STAYING IN. YOU CAN LEARN A LOT ABOUT THE CULTURE OF THAT PLACE AND I ALSO FEEL IT IS SO IMPORTANT AS AN INSTRUCTOR TO APPRECIATE THE WORK OF OTHER INSTRUCTORS!