Keeping fit whilst travelling – my night at “fight club”

Boxfit class in Roatan, Honduras

I think I’m about to break the first rule of fight club…

I went to fight club last night, and it was hard work. Sorry for blabbing and all, but I’m a blogger, and the first rule of blogging is that if you do something, you talk about it.

After my first month on the island of Roatan, my head had just about stopped spinning long enough for me to pause and take in what life in a foreign country actually looked like. I saw a healthy tan, a great work/life balance and a happy smile on my face. But I also saw a full belly and a lot of empty beer cans. The demon in the back of my head started to stir – you know the one, the one that tells you you’re getting tubby, you’re letting yourself go, that you might have forgotten what a vegetable looks like…

So in my attempt to put my pesky demon firmly back in his box, I decided it was time for exercise to start featuring a little more prominently in my life. Working at a dive shop during my divemaster training means that I do my fair share of physical labour – lifting heavy scuba tanks, carrying equipment up and down the dock, and spending hours each day in the water – but when a friend at the shop mentioned that he was running a boxing class, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get stuck into a more serious workout.

I’ve always loathed competitive sport, namely because I just don’t really get the appeal. I’m not particularly quick or coordinated, and I’ve never bought into the notion that running up and down a rainy patch of grass chasing after a ball is a pleasant way to spend an hour. But I like to keep fit and to challenge myself physically, and this year I took up running for the first time. After pushing through the initial barriers (‘this is the worst thing ever, why am I doing this’) I quickly built up my speed and ran my first 10k in under an hour. I was hoping to keep up my running habits once I moved abroad, but the heat has me recoiling back to the solace of aircon whenever I attempt to set foot outside.

Fight Club therefore offered a good compromise, a way to work up a decent sweat for a couple of hours, without getting scorched to a crisp. The set up was simple – four different work out stations which focused on a different body part each which we rotated around in pairs. Although three minutes passes in no time in the ordinary world, 180 seconds worth of push-ups, burpees and sparring seemed like an eternity. The grainy photos I managed to pap whilst taking a ‘water break’ just don’t do justice to the pure sweat and toil …

The final station was where you got to don the gloves and pummel the crap out of a pair of pads. Whilst I may not be a fan of sport, I can definitely see the appeal in letting out your inner crazy and I got stuck right in, punching with as much brute force as I could muster.

As the session progressed, my muscles began to protest at all this over-exertion, and the sit-up station became more of a ‘curl up in the fetal position and try to get your breath back’ station, so it wasn’t with too much regret that our time was up and we began to pack away the mats and gloves. But, tired and aching though I was, it felt great to do something physically punishing again.

Keeping fit whilst travelling can be hard – we cram our days full of new and exciting adventures with new friends and its easy to forget to make time for a workout. Why would you want to spend the morning sweating in the gym when you could be out exploring? But if you forget the confines of the gym, you can combine exercise and travel and make it fun – whether that’s in an organised capacity such as a yoga or boxing class, or under the guise of a day outdoors, hiking, kayaking or climbing a mountain.

As the stiffness wears off and the temptation to chow down on another banana donut kicks in, I’ll be reminding myself that keeping fit should be an intrinsic part of how I choose to travel. And if I keep this up, Brad Pitt’s abs will have nothing on mine…