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Keeping fit when travelling

Tracy Highland

Keeping fit when travelling

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A Bajan Thanksgiving in the United States is not like a typical Thanksgiving celebration.

Picture a traditional feast, topped off with macaroni pie, jerk pork, pudding and souse, sweetbread, green bananas and curried goat. That was my week last week. I ate a lot. I shopped a lot (who would want to miss Thanksgiving sales?). I drank copious amounts of wine amongst good company; and I also found time to work out.

I left for my vacation armed with travel workouts designed for at-home use and, thanks to one of my coaches, the name of the CrossFit gym nearest to where I was staying.

I ignored that information for two days.

On the first day I went straight to the mall. I bought CrossFit shoes. That’s still CrossFit related right? The second day was no better. I left home early in the morning with my trip mates.  

The plan was to return early enough to do a travel WOD (Workout of the Day) and maybe go for a quick run through the neighbourhood. In retrospect, I should have known that wouldn’t have worked.  

Night fell and we were still happily moving from store to store. By the time we got in I was exhausted and exercise was the last thing on my mind. Besides I’m sure I walked at least five shopping miles that day! (Not sure how much that is in real miles.)

By the third day I had figured it out, WOD first thing in the morning before anything else. I managed to do two WODs over the next few days. The first one was a combination of pushups, sit-ups and air squats for 10 rounds. The second one was a repeat of the test travel WOD I had done before leaving Barbados; sit-ups followed by climbing stairs what seemed like a million times.

It was tough working out alone. I could have cheated, but I didn’t and I’m proud of that.  I found myself self-coaching. “Come on Tracy you can do this!” “Just two more!” “Good job!” And it worked. I settled into a travel workout routine that felt good.

But I still had a piece of the puzzle to fit in: a visit to the CrossFit gym near where I was staying.  I would drive past and look at it every day.  I’m convinced the sign kept getting bigger and bigger each time. I thought I had got over the nervousness I felt at going to workouts but it was back, big time.

I had been checking them out online. I honestly don’t know why. CrossFit photo galleries are intimidating, especially if you’re not in shape. You look at the picture of the man or woman with bulging arm muscles doing pushups and can’t help but compare them to your own puny appendages.  

I should be looking at them and seeing goals but I’m still at the stage when I look and see my own shortcomings, which might not be a bad thing. It motivates me to keep working.

I called CrossFit Athletic Co. in Lake Worth, Florida, and set a time to visit. I’m glad I did. I made the short drive to the box at 8 a.m. and was greeted with a big smile by one of the coaches, Angel, as I walked through the door. It was spacious and clean.  Everyone was friendly and welcoming.  A quick sign in and I was ready to go.

I came in at the end of the first WOD and immediately I saw something familiar; the looks on the faces of the people who had just finished. I knew that look. I’ve had that look. The “exhausted but I feel good because I’ve finished” look. Strangely enough this was a comfort for me. It broke the ice.

The workout was great. My coach Matt was awesome. Just like at back at home, he worked with me to modify the workout to suit the level I was at.  What is it with CrossFit coaches?  

He was excellent. He took the time to help with me technique. He was encouraging, but tough enough to force me to challenge myself.  I completed the workout; down to the surprise set of sit-ups and bicycles at what we thought was the finish.  

I took a picture of the white results board with my name on it at the end. It’s reminder of my commitment to this fitness journey I’m on. I’ve come to realise that the only thing stopping me at times is myself. You can still work out and make healthy choices when you travel. Health can be a choice.

Fitness can be a choice. It’s that simple; and that hard. Challenge yourself to make choices that will improve your health rather than degrade it. That’s what I have done and do you know what?  I’ve got a way to go, but it’s getting easier and easier to make healthy choices every day.

Tracy is a freelance writer and communications consultant determined to finally take control of her personal fitness. Follow her blog on Instagram @i_survived_crossfit for day-to-day updates on her CrossFit journey