6 Weeks of Backpacker Fitness: A few observations

6 Weeks of Backpacker Fitness: A few observations

If you read my latest postcard, you’ll be well aware that I spent a large proportion of my time in Laos sick, in bed. During this time, I was, quite understandably, not contributing to my Travel Fitness Workout Log. I had a good couple of weeks away from the gym, to allow myself to get back to normal.

Instead, I started writing this observation post. I’m not talking bodily observations as such. I certainly can’t remember the last time I stepped on a pair of scales. It’s just a few things I’ve noticed about my routine, attitude and fitness levels since leaving London.

So full disclosure, here we go…

Beach workouts aren’t that great…

The first thing that stands out is that all those super instagrammable beach workouts… well, they rarely happen. I think that when you’re into fitness and you go on holiday somewhere warm, there’s this image you get of doing all your workouts outdoors with some incredibly scenic backdrop. But the reality is that beach workouts, particularly in Southeast Asia, are almost unbearably hot. That’s unless you get up for a 6am sesh which no one really wants to do on their holidays. Plus, the sand… well that just gets annoying.  Although my day to day training has adapted to include more bodyweight exercises, Hiit and cardio, (yes, cardio) the majority of these workouts still take place in a gym of some description.

 

Workouts are a work of art…

Secondly, my creativity skills are through the roof. I’m using the term ‘gym’ very liberally here. For the most part a hostel or hotel ‘fitness centre’ consists of a small square room with a treadmill, a bike and one or two fixed resistance machines- if you’re lucky. A lot of the time these gyms are unstaffed, so free weights- particularly barbells and plates- are out of the question. Although my workouts haven’t been taking place on the beach, I’ve still had to get very creative with bodyweight exercises and HiiT circuits to make up for the shocking lack of equipment.

 

Where did my strength go?

Creativity may be on a high but my strength feels like it’s at an all-time low. HiiT circuits and bodyweight exercises are all very well for general fitness, calorie burning and muscle endurance, but they don’t do all that much for strength. Since our hotel in Colombo, it wasn’t until Vietnam (a good four weeks later) that we managed to find a nearby gym with a squat rack and lifting platform. Bearing in mind that my ‘normal’ routine involves squats, bench and deadlifts at least once a week each, plus a whole range of other exercises focusing on strength and hypertrophy. It’s a big change of routine. Now, whenever I get a chance to do a strength workout, the lack of practice and consistency is so obvious to me. I feel weak!

Backpacker Fitness - A few observations

I’m a creature of habit…

Speaking of consistency…I need routine. I have better workouts and I’m generally happier and more motivated when we stay in a place for more than a couple of days. It gives me a chance to suss out the area and what’s available gym-wise, as well as how I can fit my training into whatever else we have planned. It’s consistency in bite-size pieces. I actually enjoyed getting up for a 7am workout three mornings in a row in Vietnam because I knew where I was going and what I was going to train. It was the closest I’ve come to my London routine since going away. When I haven’t planned I always feel less motivated, and my workouts feel hurried.

 

Go hard or go home…

Unfortunately, planning isn’t always an option. We’ve been in the situation many times where we’re going somewhere and we have absolutely no idea how long we’ll be there or what we’ll be doing, let alone whether there’ll be a gym or a place to hang our TRX. It means that we’ve really had to make the most of our workouts. At home I normally split my routine into body parts: Monday legs, Tuesday chest and shoulders, Wednesday back and arms etc. etc. The thing is, that really doesn’t make sense here. Instead I’ve been splitting sessions into upper body and lower body…or if we really have no idea then I’ll do a massive full body session and embrace the DOMS the next day.

 

Endorphins are everything.

To end on a cheesy note, the final thing that I’ve noticed is how much I need exercise. Not being able to train as much as I did at home has made it really obvious how exercise affects your psychological wellbeing. After just a couple of workout-free weeks I felt awful. I was lethargic and stressy and got upset so easily. That evaporated the moment I started working out again. I had more energy during the day and I slept better at night. The post-exercise endorphins really work their wonders out here, it seems like after each workout I am instantly happier and less stressed.

How do you cope with long chunks of time away from your ‘normal’ life? Does your exercise routine suffer- or how do you stop it from doing so? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Backpacker Fitness - A few observations

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2 thoughts on “6 Weeks of Backpacker Fitness: A few observations”

    • I know! Actually sometimes it’s the higher end hotels that are worse than the budget ones- what’s with that? Thank you ha – I can’t wait to get to Sydney though and actually be able to settle into a routine of some sort 🙂 xx

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