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Travel Health & Fitness News

Bringing you the latest in travel health and fitness news from Australia and around the world.

AUSSIE TRAVEL AND FITNESS IS IT A FAD OR A LIFESTYLE CHOICE?

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NEWS FEATURE:

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.”

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ADVENTURE TRAVEL WITH WILD WOMEN ON TOP

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NEWS FEATURE:

Adventure travel for some is no more than visiting the next town or city, but for others this means trekking to Nepal, Africa, or Laos.

Also known as heritage travel, ecotourism, and community tourism, adventure travel is an active and expanding industry that contributes significantly to economic growth.

The ‘ecotourism’ industry, according to a World Travel and Tourism Council report released in 2000, was estimated to be worth $154 billion and had a forecasted annual growth rate of 20%.

National Geographic stated in 2002 that adventure or ‘active’ travel accounts for approximately 22 percent of the travel market, with more than 20 million travellers electing to take part in adventures annually.

Di Westaway, founder of  Wild Women On Top, an adventure travel business, turned her passion for travel into a tourism entity that empowers women.

“10 years ago I found myself at 20,000 feet on the edge of the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, struggling for breath, and wondering what the hell I was doing,” said Westaway. “I realised that I was ill prepared for the world class trekking peak of Mt Aconcagua, Argentina, 6,962m. Not long after my return, I knew that I had discovered a new passion. I wanted to empower teams of women by getting them fit enough to safely experience awesome wilderness challenges,” she said. “Thus, Wild Women On Top was born.”

Westaway, who is the managing director of Wild Women On Top, says that establishing the business and maintaining it can sometimes be tricky, especially when it comes to balancing her lifestyle.

“As a single mum, this is a very tricky juggling act. By running my own business, I am always working, but I love it, so it does not feel like work. However, sometimes the balance swings too far in one direction or another. When this happens I compensate.”

“It’s more a matter of riding the roller coaster of shifting priorities. Of course, my kids are always number one, but I know that without my health, none of my other roles can be fulfilled, so I won’t sacrifice my physical activity,” she said. “I ensure that I always have at least three reasons for doing something. I make my exercise social, transport, or work oriented, and then I fit work around my family commitments.

It is all about being healthy says Westaway.

“Health is number one. If we do not have health, both physical and mental, we cannot work, exercise or nurture. So, finding ways of making exercise pleasurable and social is essential,” she said. “Women love walking because they can chat, learn, and rejuvenate themselves in a mind, body, spirit experience.”

Westaway, whose number one health tip is to make exercise part of your daily lifestyle, says that by committing to take part in extraordinary physical challenges forces you to train every day so that you can achieve the goal you have set yourself. Plus, you are able to find like-minded people to share this experience with.”

Having travelled to Kosciuszko in Australia, Kinabalu in Borneo, Rinjani in Lombok, Fanispan in North Vietnam, Machu Pichu in Peru, Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Elbrus in Russia, just to name a few adventures, Westaway says that she has experienced newbie treks and climbs to moderate and hard core. In addition, it is these same challenges that she encourages other women to join.

“In 2012, Wild Women On Top will take trips to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru in Africa, and the Gibbon Experience in Laos. We will also visit the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia, and Chomolhari Base Camp in Bhutan, as well as the Castle in Morton National Park, Australia, Larapinta Trail, and the Walls of Jerusalem in Tasmania, the Jatbula trek in Western Australia, and the Bungle Bungles in the Northern Territory, Australia,” said Westaway.

Di Westaway says she is addicted to travel. She explores Australia every second month, and she does three big overseas trips every year.

“All of my travel involves exercise of some sort,” she said. “Wild Women On Top trips involve trekking or mountain climbing, and occasionally alpine touring or rock climbing.

“When I travel with my kids I ensure that I include some sort of adventure fitness activity,” said Westaway. “We skied in New Zealand, and I rock climbed in Greece, while the kids went to the beach.

“I also try to embrace the food of the culture while I am away and I choose healthy options,” she said. “I have found that the best way to avoid weight gain while I am travelling is to just enjoy beautiful food in small quantities. Taste everything, but don’t over-indulge.”

Westaway says that nutrition is vital to her strength and endurance, and that balance in her diet is important.

“I try to eat every colour of the rainbow every day,” she said. “And I eat a wide variety of wholefoods. I love treats, and I have to say ‘NO’ more often than I would like to, so that I maintain my ideal health. However, I have, too often than I might like to admit, been known to have ice-cream for dinner.”

But, travelling is not without its difficulties says Westaway.

“I have encountered many difficult experiences whilst travelling in the wilderness,” said Westaway. “I’ve had gastro on Kilimanjaro and been ill prepared in terms of fitness, on my first attempt of Mt Aconcagua. However, the most serious was my experience on Mt Everest, and this is a story I must share,” she said.

“In 2010, on my attempt to climb the North Col of Everest, 7000m, I began to suffer from the early symptoms of the potentially fatal condition called high-altitude pulmonary oedema,” she said. “I sat in my tent, gasping for air, and kept thinking I could die if I lay down to sleep. I knew I should descend rather than stay.”

“The nights for me were frightening. Life involved sitting in a mess tent, forcing copious amounts of hot water, tea, soup, hot chocolate, and any other liquid you could find, into your mouth, then braving the freezing conditions outside to pee,” said Westaway. “For many of the climbers, handfuls of Panadol were required to manage excruciating altitude headaches and various gastro and throat complaints. I was lucky to avoid all of these. Nevertheless, this did not help me acclimatize fast enough, she said. “My main thought was for my kids and my responsibility to stay safe for their sake. I descended the three day walk in 8 hours, and felt instantly better.”

“There are hundreds of people on the planet who have, and who will continue to, put themselves through the physical, mental, emotional and financial suffering required to summit Mt Everest,” said Westaway. “It is a great privilege to step briefly into that world and see what is required. I’m 50-years-old and my ‘raison de etre’  is to empower women to achieve their goals, and my goal, my true passion, is to one day, be part of an all women’s team that will journey to the exquisite summit of the highest point on earth.”

THE SHARING BALI HEALTHY TRAVEL ALTERNATIVE

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NEWS FEATURE:

Every year, between 20 to 70 percent of international travellers, visiting developing countries, contract some form of illness whilst travelling.

According to the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the most common forms of illness are fever, malaria, and stomach infections.

However, combining health and fitness with travel is an alternative that is allowing travellers to maintain a high-level of fitness and avoid illness as they enjoy the culture of another country.

Karen Willis, business partner at Sharing Bali, a health and fitness retreat situated in Ubud, a small town in the middle of the island of Bali, says that this style of vacation is an alternative that allows travellers to celebrate their health in a culturally stimulating environment.

“Sharing Bali is simple luxury,” said Willis. “We keep it simple. Lots of exercise, good food, reviving massages, plenty of sleep, and, of course, a healthy dose of friendship and fun.”

“Our food is fresh, nothing processed, and there is plenty of it. You need the fuel on our retreats,” she said. “The training sessions use coconuts and rice sacks. The paths between the rice paddies are ideal for bear crawls and lunging. The volcano climb is challenging for some, but once you are at the summit witnessing the sunrise, you cannot help but be in awe of the moment. It’s all these moments that your good health allows you to enjoy and that is a celebration,” said Willis.

The Sharing Bali concept has taken Karen, who worked in the fashion industry and her partner Wayan, a local artist, 10 years to develop. Karen states that the retreat was aptly named ‘Ayung Sari Indah’ by a Balinese priest, meaning ‘the sweet nectar of the beautiful Ayung River.’ However, she also stresses that when staying at the retreat you will not be surrounded by mini bars, flat screens and infinity pools, as the retreat is all about appreciating your surroundings and getting back to basics.

“There are simple bungalows overlooking rice paddies, authentic Balinese village style food, rejuvenating programs with experienced  trainers, and a personal service from the heart of Bali village life,” said Willis.

The typical length of a Sharing Bali retreat is 6 days and 5 nights with prices ranging from $1095 to $1650 depending on the package selected. All packages include food, accommodation, all program activities, and group transfers to and from the airport or nearby hotel. Karen also stipulates that travel insurance is mandatory so that you avoid hefty costs if you become injured whilst away.

This travel insurance advice follows closely with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smart Traveller advice, which states that ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel.’

COMBINING HEALTH AND FITNESS WHILST TRAVELLING

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NEWS-IN-BRIEF:

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 2.4 million Australians travelled overseas during 2010. Of this number, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimates that 25,000 experienced difficulties whilst away.

Jo Sharp, owner of SharpMoves Fitness, runs Bali fitness retreats that allow individuals to maintain their health and fitness when travelling.

“Just because there is no fitness centre doesn’t mean your fitness needs to be neglected,” said Sharp. “There is no need for a treadmill when we have jungle treks at the doorstep.”

Jo recommends being resourceful so you can enjoy your surroundings and combine health, fitness and travel.

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