SOLO TRAVELLERS AND FITNESS

OR HOW TO APPROACH THE DREADED GYM.

I’m going to say this once and once only. You have to be fit for travel at any age but it’s VITAL as you get older. I sin in many ways, and love it, I do, but on returning to London I get back in the gym and always find it easier than I thought and the buzz after doing exercise is euphoric. It removes the winter blues even when you walk back home after in the pouring rain. It makes you feel, erm, smug and self-righteous. Nothing wrong with that old birds, nothing. I intend to do this till I’m at least 80!

Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines…see that big fish behind me?!

TOP TIP: Approach the process clinically and set aside the time for it. This is a vital part of where you can actually travel to and what you can get up to when you arrive. I want to add here if there are things you’d like to do but are not trained in or are rusty now is the time for lessons. Horse riding is a perfect example. In the Philippines I took a horse up to a volcanic lake in the centre of a crater. To walk up took hours and I had the fun of riding knowing I was fit enough and had the skill.

Riding up to the volcanic lake in the Philippines 2018

ALERT: Consult with your doc always. Know your limitations and things he considers would be beneficial to your health. Try to find the sweet spot between being adventurous and safe. Depending on your age and fitness you’ll have to have reasonable expectations. You can do some check ups periodically to see how you’re improving health wise!!

How to choose your Gym.

Home from home.
  • One which is close. You’ll need to look for a place that’s close or you’ll never go.
  • One which is not private, Council ones that offers various free classes in your membership is ideal.
  • One with a pool is preferable (often comes with aqua aerobic classes for older people.
  • One with a sauna and massage is a treat that makes it all worth it.
  • One with a private induction that will give you a suitable workout programme and nurse you in gently.
  • One that is clean, well maintained and modern.
  • One where the staff are friendly helpful and not snooty.
  • One which feels like a second home. (Mine literally was a second home after the bomb discovery, it helped the Soho residents by allocating a room in the warm)

Getting chummy with your local health centre.

Manager Louise and swim coach David at Marshall Street.

Walk in and make an appointment. Don’t be shy, any health centre worth it’s salt will recognise older people or indeed people who haven’t entered the holy portals previously, will feel intimidated and will spook easily. Once you have gleaned what they have to offer you can decide if that place is for you. If you love it and the price is right book your induction, go home and sort out your kit! That’s all it ain’t rocket science.

How mine is organised at Everyone Active

I have a membership which includes the spa and my account can be kept open while I travel for a fee of a fiver a month which means I can reactivate it in five minutes.

With my brand new exercise belt. More on that next fitness blog.

The Bag.

I have a rucksack and its generic name is “my health club bag” or “THE BAG” It holds all my essential oils, hair and beauty products, scrubbers and buffers, and all sorts of goodies that I add on a whim. They all have their own zipper bags and are very compartmentalised. My swimming costume and flip flops are also there. This is my beautiful self-love bag and it means I have everything I need for whatever I decide to do. I wear my gym clothes to the gym and change when I get home.

Some of the contents of “The Bag”

The Clothes.

These should be loose and comfy. Don’t get hung up on a brand new outfit just wear something you have already, for the gardening for example. Nothing says novice as much as a brand new kit. You only need to purchase decent trainers the rest should have a casual air of “I don’t care” and shabby chic. That way you don’t look desperate and freaked while you acclimatise. You’ll also need headphones to listen to music, or like me, my beloved audible books. It’s vital so you don’t die of boredom with some of the rather repetitive nature of some exercise.

Don’t get hung up on a brand new outfit just wear something you have already, for the gardening for example.

The Gym or the gladiators arena.

With Sam Shephard at the Fortis launch.

My preferred type of torture, the weights. Get your induction done and they will show you how the machines work and you can see what you really need from your routine. This is the time when you sort what is doable for you in the space of time you want to allocate for it. Keep it simple and explain why you want to do it, you’re going to travel all over the world and you need to toughen up! Tell them you want adventures and to be prepared for them.

Yoga, pilates and classes.

If you know a bit of yoga or you’re a novice it don’t matter they have levels for different proficiencies and yoga teachers are almost always very calm and don’t push you to do stuff you’re not happy with. Get lovely and pliant and stretchy, learn how to breathe properly and strengthen up too. Yoga is a friend for all ages. I will be covering this more fully later. I use yoga while travelling but more for breathing and relaxation, it comes in very handy with travel stress.

Home will do as well but classes give you the discipline if you don’t any!

Now hot yoga is the thing so I’m dusting off my Thai trousers and going to try it out for you now!

Pilates is the core class which is very useful for, well, your core muscles. I’m too lazy to cram that in but it’s probably what I really need at the moment for my big fat belly to get roped in while having a diet for February. (I don’t drink or smoke in Jan and I go to the gym so I leave the dieting for February. In January I always eat up the last Xmas freezer stuff etc)

Cardio- Jogging, Rowing, Cycling… and now Fortis…

Cocky till I try it out!

This is my least favourite which is weird because it’s kinda what you can encounter while away. However you might find this lovely and joyful so go for it! Again get them to explain the machines they are all different from place to place. Speedy walking does the trick for me along with weights.

Hot yoga studio.

I’m going in for my first Fortis class with Louise the lovely manager in a min so will report back in my next fitness blog on that new variety of torture created by some secret sadists behind closed doors.

Swimming Pool or watersports.

Our beautiful pool.

The pool should be your main pal. It’s fabulous exercise but also very good for regulating breathing thus aiding stress relief. Use this time to practise for your snorkelling, you’ll need to be able to tread water while you fidget with your bloody mask that keeps flooding or that bloody snorkel which keeps flooding or to put your fins back on or no end of messing about with those little bits of plastic. I know you can rubber ring it but that means you won’t be able to dive to see the good stuff so you must be able to keep afloat without a panic. This sounds a bit much but your swimming instructor will show you how easy it is if you get a quick lesson. They are delighted to help with any bits that you feel concerned about which is vital to your confidence. Once you’ve become more fishy you’ll be able to really enjoy your wet trips!

Learning to breathe.………
…… so you can snorkel and dive in the sea! This is your reward for a bit of pool time at home.

At most pools now they have classes of aquarobics. These are great as they use water resistance to exercise more gently and you can stretch use various weird flotation devices such as the noodles. It’s really good fun and less stressful than some of the other stuff.

Spa or hedonistic Roman relaxation area.

Go on you know you like it! After all the toil of exercise it’s time to get down and dirty and have a good sweat in the sauna and steam room. Maybe a massage too madam? I take in “THE BAG” and put some essential oils (Basil, Eucalyptus, Lemon for example) in some water then chuck over the hot coals. This is a great decongestant and moral booster. It clears the lungs and lifts the spirits. I also have baby oil with some ginger, grapefruit and bitter orange to rub into my skin with my wooden knobbly massager. It’s very important to have a reward like this to psychologically associate this work with a good time after. It’s also great for a good nights kip later.

Below a motivational video of where you can get to if you are fit enough.

All in all you can only feel better with these measures and psychologically they are vital as you age in making you feel strong enough for travelling alone. Even if you are just going somewhere close to home it’s surprising how exhausting it can be going to monuments and museums if you didn’t get in that gym!!

OVER AND OUT FROM A BUSY BIRD REBECCA X

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