Australians enjoy exploring their own country just as much as travelling overseas. The lure of the great outdoors is the largest drawcard as it combines beauty and serenity with activity. This Australian love of nature is also seeing fitness groups making use of their natural environment for stimulation.
According to Tourism Research Australia, Australians made more than 229.2 million trips during 2011. These trips consisted of overnight visits, day travel and overseas journeys, with 47% being holiday related.
Gretchen Masters, owner and director of Spring, a fitness business based in New South Wales, is one Australian who is making the most of the inspiration that travel brings.
“I have created yoga plans in Sicily, strength plans in Rome, and focused on fitness as I cycled through France with my husband,” said Masters. “I realise how lucky we are to be self-employed. If we had ‘real’ jobs, we’d never get the leave we need to go to France every year. With Spring, I can keep working from anywhere in the world.”
Masters and her husband are cycling fanatics and they have followed the Tour de France since they can remember. So, when Masters was asked to be a tour guide for Custom Getaways during the event, she jumped at the chance.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to do what we love, cycle in the best mountains in the world and be paid for it,” said Masters. “And the fact that it’s worked out so well for us is a reminder that if an opportunity presents itself, do what you can to take it.”
“We have been obsessed with the Tour forever,” said Masters. “We followed the whole Tour de France ourselves in a van in 2005, then we went back for a week in 2006, ” she said. “When the opportunity came up to be paid to be in France each July, it was far too good to turn down. The energy, the cycling, the mountains, Paris – it’s impossible to describe.”
“At the Tour de France, I oversee all of the big groups and make sure that they depart on time. Then I work as a tour guide on shorter non-cycling trips,” said Masters. “This includes getting people to watch stages, looking after them at hotels, making sure the bus driver knows where to go and when, as well as showing people around and making sure they have the trip of a lifetime,” she said.
Masters has travelled throughout the world and recommends taking good care of yourself when you travel, so that you maintain your own fitness levels.
“I’ve lived in London and Germany and have done most of my travelling all over Europe. I’ve also seen plenty of Asia, by bus usually in short bursts. I have a particularly soft spot for France,” said Masters. “I travel for up to five days for fun or for my husband to race about eight to10 times a year,” she said. “I travel for a few days for work, about five times a year, and head to Europe at least once, maybe twice, each year for two to four weeks each time.”
“It is important to keep moving,” said Masters. “I don’t seem to be affected by jet lag often, so can get out and move straight away. It’s amazing how only a couple of days off can set you up with lazy habits for your entire holiday. ”
“But remember that walking around tourist sites is not exercise,” said Masters. “It’s entertainment. Do something every day, preferably in the morning,” she said. “Find a set of stairs to run up or doing core exercises in your room for 20 to 30 minutes, these are great options.”
“I also recommend that you eat well. Treats are fine, but not every meal needs to a treat,” said Masters. “For example, in France I know that the dinners are usually amazing, so I tend to eat well during the day,” she said. “Keep the excess under control. You don’t need to try every pastry, every wine, every gelato flavour… you get the idea. Fully appreciate what you do eat, but don’t feel obliged to eat everything.”
Masters says that the best way to keep fit when travelling is running.
“Running is by far the easiest way to train whilst travelling. But in 2011 I couldn’t run due to an injury, so I was forced to get creative,” said Masters. “And French swimming pools have bizarre and limited opening hours, so that wasn’t an option. I ended up doing long hilly walks, strength training in parks, a little bit of running on stairs and lots of core training,” she said.
Kate Ramm, managing director of Discover Fitness and Travel, a fitness business that hosts travel fit holidays, says she is an Australian that is addicted to travel.
“I travel internationally every four to six months internationally, and interstate monthly,” said Ramm. “I have been to Hawaii, USA, New Zealand, and Bali, as well as Vietnam, Thailand, Fiji, Greece, and Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, England, Switzerland and of course various locations in Australia,” she said. “And there is still more to come.”
Ramm, who believes in leading a life that has a work, exercise, pleasure balance, will head off to Vietnam on a cycling tour on 31 March 2012 with a group of Australians who want to get fitter.
“I believe in a little bit of everything,” said Ramm. “I would like to say this means a third of each [work, exercise, pleasure] makes up the best life. However, the ability to feel you can achieve all that you wish physically, emotionally or financially is very important,” she said. “I have a fondness for travel so this also needs to be included.”
“I came up with my business concept after seeing a niche in the area of preparing for and organising active holidays,” said Ramm. This also allows me to satisfy my own passion for fitness and travel.”
Ramm believes that travel of any kind is what you make of it, and that at times your travel will prevent you from maintaining your fitness.
“It’s what you make it. The best way to explore a new city is at eye level, on foot or on a bike, so get out there,” said Ramm. “I have had many transit days where you are stuck in airports, on trains or on buses for the better part of 24-hours,” she said. “In this case you cannot necessarily control your fitness regime (although some core exercises will keep you in better stead). However, you can control your nutritional intake. I make extra effort to get to a mini-mart and get myself stocked up on low-fat, high fibre goods such as fruit, rice crackers, saltines, and water.”
When travelling, Kate follows the K.I.S.S method of keeping it simple silly.
“It is about keeping it basic,” said Kate. “When I travel internationally or interstate, I have a very simple policy when it comes to my exercise and nutrition. I establish my own very simple guidelines in my head,” she said. “These have to be flexible so that they suit wherever I am and what ever I’m doing. This can include finding the hotel or gym, or possibly scoping out a running or walking route on the taxi ride to the hotel.”
“I must have a ‘bare minimum’ routine that can be easily added to depending on my energy level and jet lag,” said Ramm. “This consists of having at least two regular meals per day. I normally choose breakfast and lunch as dinner is normally the time to socialise,” she said. “It’s good to remember that you are still human. Hotel buffets can actually be invaluable in this process. They often have a wide selection of fruit, muesli, yoghurt and often even fresh juices that you can use to stock up on your nutrients. Just lay off the omelettes, bacon and sausages, and the pancakes.”
If you want to maintain your fitness, says Ramm, then you need to shift your focus.
“I create ‘destinations’ for certain necessities,” said Ramm. “These include walking a few blocks to get my morning coffee, walking to that amazing restaurant that is a couple of blocks away for dinner, and staying a little bit further from the hub-bub,” she said. “This way I am forced to walk around a bit more.”