Traveling can come with a wide range of motivations. Some of us travel for art. Some of us travel to relax poolside. Some of us travel because it’s all we know and living any other way just sounds crazy.
Over the past few years, travel and staying fit while on the road has become more and more important to many wanderlusters out there (especially those tough-to-pin-down millennials). So we’ve taken a moment to look forward to 2017 with your physical and mental health in mind and offer a few of the best options for combining your next vacation with a serious workout.
Go get that sweat on!
YOGA IN A RISHIKESH ASHRAM – INDIA
The swell of popularity yoga enjoys as workout regimen (and thought discipline) continues unabated around the world. So instead of buying that expensive hot yoga package down at the strip mall, you should book a trip to Rishikesh.
The ashram is the center of all things yoga. You’ll find yourself practicing that downward dog along rivers cutting through spectacular Himalayan foothills while you learn at the hands of local masters. There really are tons of ashrams to choose from, but one of the coolest is the Maharishi Mahesh’s Ashram ruins — where a little band called the Beatles stayed in the 60s. These days, the whole place has been turned into an outdoor art gallery where you can get your namaste on.
KUNG FU IN A SHAOLIN MONESTRY – CHINA
Remember when Neo said, “I know kung fu” with all the gravitas of a stoned Johnny Utah? Well, you too can know kung fu. Around the Henan Province of China you’ll find the verdant hills peppered with Shaolin temples that offer smashing courses in the ancient martial art.
Studying Kung Fu with Shaolin monks may be one of the most badass ways to spend your two weeks vacation. Seriously, you can probably dine out on that experience for the rest of your life — plus you’re coming home fitter than when you left (and able to walk on walls and knock people out). Finding a temple is just a matter of a little internet research and sussing out what suits you best in regards to complexity of courses, remoteness of the temple, and price point.
MEDITATE IN A BUDDHIST TEMPLE – BHUTAN
Physical health is essential to good mental health. Sometimes the fitness we need is a sound and clear mind to show us the way forward, reset our over-stimulated lives, or just chill the f*ck out for awhile.
Trekking to a Buddhist temple or monastery in the Bhutanese Himalayas and meditating in silence for days on end is the perfect way to find you inner zen and exercise your mind in way that’ll make it (and you) stronger.
MASTER CAPOEIRA – BRAZIL
Part martial art, part music, part dance, part beach life — Capoeira kinda has it all. Learning the Brazilian moves gives you a full body workout that’ll definitely keep you fit while you’re one the road. Plus…Dance fighting! What could be better?
Head to Brazil and it’ll be easy to find a studio or beach where you can enroll in courses. You could even start in Rio and work your way north hitting beaches and new groups along the way, in order to see a nice slice of Brazil while getting your body in peak shape.
RUN MARATHON DE SABLES – MOROCOO
Ever fancied running a marathon? How about a trip to Morocco’s Sahara Desert? If both of those entice you, then it might be time to consider combining your next vacation with a little run.
The Marathon de Sables takes place April 7th-17th this year. It’s a freestyle sprint across the desert, covering 250km (155.3 miles) over 5 days. Overall the whole trip takes 11 days for the average participant, or the perfect amount of time to do the race and see a little of Morocco before those two weeks are up and you’re heading back to work.
RACE ACROSS FROZEN LAKE BAIKAL – RUSSIA
If the oppressive heat of the Sahara didn’t sound like your jam, how about some ice? 42.2 km (26.2 miles) across frozen Lake Baikal is a once in a lifetime experience. And given the way relations with Russia is going, travel to that part of the world might get a little hairy in the near future.
Baikal Ice Marathon is happening on March 7th this year. If you’ve been looking for a marathon that’s wholly unique in the world, this might be the one for you. As a nice local touch, everyone takes a shot of vodka (of course) before the starter’s pistol fires — to embolden the spirit, which isn’t the worst way to start a marathon across one of the world’s largest lakes.
RUN THE ORIGINAL MARATHON – GREECE
If you’re a runner and you dig using your hobby to see new corners of the world, running the original marathon seems like a no-brainer. You’ll get to see ancient Athens and run the route that started it all with Pheidippides’ fateful run.
The marathon generally takes place every November so you don’t have to worry about the oppressive summer heat in Greece. It’s a pretty standard run by all metrics, except the fact that it ends the original Olympic Stadium.
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ATTEMPT THE 9BAR HELVELLYN TRIATHLON
Many a people break their bodies running triathlons. On the Helvellyn people die. This race is the ultimate in testing your body’s limits of fitness and raw will. You’ll swim frigid waters, climbs mountains, and bike up and down valleys before ever reaching the finish line.
Please train well before you take this one on. September 3rd is the next 9Bar Helvellyn Triathlon. You’ll need time to get to the UK and recover afterward, so a good week is probably a wise bet for this trip. You’ll also need extra gear for the intense conditions. But, you’ll be stronger than you ever were when you get home.
HIKE ONE OF AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS – USA
Let’s take it down a notch. Sometimes you don’t need courses and races to stay fit during your vacation. Sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing a trail or hike, packing some gear, and heading out into one of America’s spectacular national parks. All you’ll need is a park pass, a little food, and a unstoppable sense of adventure to explore the walkabouts right here on our soil.
The National Park system offers an array of options via their website for all sorts of skills sets and time requirements — so that you can plan the perfect vacation where you’ll find a lot of cardio, and hopefully a little zen.
THE LAST DESERT – ANTARCTICA
This is for the mad ones. The Four Desert Challenge is four 250km (155.3 miles) races over four of the world’s most intense deserts — the Sahara, Gobi, Atacama, and Antartica (the last desert). We’re only including the Antarctic race here because the lure of seeing Antarctica while spending six straight days running across it is for the bravest (and possibly craziest) of souls.
Next year you can start a new cycle of the Four Deserts with the Sahara Race on April 30th, the Gobi March on June 18th, the Atacama Crossing on October 1st, and the Last Desert in November 2018 (giving you ample training time from now). Expect to spend at least a month getting to and from Antarctica. After a year racing that distance across those harsh environments, you’ll likely be the fittest you’ve ever been.