No Weights, No Problem: How to Stay Fit as a Digital Nomad
You’ve probably been here before…
It’s the start of the new year, and you’ve decided this is finally your year! This will be the year you are finally going to dedicate yourself to going to the gym on a regular basis and achieve that summer body you’ve been dreaming about.
There’s just one problem though—this year, you’re a digital nomad and a gym membership doesn’t really fit your nomadic lifestyle. And to be honest, even if you were able to find a shorter term membership, amidst a global pandemic, going to the gym might not sound like the most appealing option to stay fit while you’re traveling and working remotely.
Well, the good news is that unused gym memberships in this day and age can be left as a thing of the past—after all, being tied to a local gym in order stay fit is no longer a necessity (which is especially convenient for remote workers and during the age of COVID).
And as more and more companies move toward indefinite work from home workforces, there is not a better time to explore the plethora of different options for staying fit while traveling, and without having to commit to long term gym memberships. The best part is that most of these options require little to no equipment—it doesn’t get much easier than that folks.
Probably the most classic form of no equipment required fitness—perfect for a digital nomad. All you need is a solid pair of running shoes, and that’s about it. However, I should mention that there should be an emphasis on ‘good’ pair of running shoes. At the end of the day, this can make or break whether you stay committed to running (nobody wants sore feet after a workout). I recommend going to a running store near you, and have them professionally fit you for a great pair of shoes perfect for your body and stride.
But anyway, back to the main point—why is running the ultimate way to stay fit while traveling? Well, in my experience, not only is it a fantastic way to stay active and in shape, but it also allows you to explore and see more of the area you’re staying in. I like to think of it as an express tour of the city. Just pick a direction from your front door and run, run, run (or that’s what I do at least).
Other recommended options are doing a bit of research for parks, coastlines, and running trails near you! Perhaps even searching for running groups in the area on Facebook or Meetup, which brings me to my next point.
Community-Based Workout Groups
I will be honest, I hadn’t dabbled much in this until moving to New York about two years ago in late 2018, but let me just tell you this was life-changing. An acquaintance recommended a group called November Project, which has exercise groups all over the world from New York to Malaysia and plenty of cities in-between. I met some of the most wonderful people in the Brooklyn group, two of which are still my best friends in the city.
But the highlight here is really that you don’t need equipment for these workouts, you just show up! Typically it involves some kind of circuit workouts, running, and paired or group exercises. They meet rain or shine on the days specified in their groups, and it is a great way to build a global community and make friends around the world. November Project is just one example, but these types of groups are all over- I’d recommend doing a quick google search, or again, searching Facebook groups or Meetup.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a great option for remote workers looking to stay fit because it usually does not require a lot of time- since it is high intensity- and can be comfortably done at home, in a hostel, in a communal area, in a park, or wherever really. Sometimes they might require light equipment such as weights or bands, but you can certainly get a full-body (or targeted) workout from just using your body weight.
Typically you need little to no space at all for HIIT workouts and they’re great to do in groups or solo. There are plenty of Instagrammers who dedicate themselves to putting out HIIT workouts and routines, but tons of videos can be found online as well such as Fitness Blender and Pop Sugar (plus they’re free!).
Looking back, yoga was my gateway into fitness. Shortly after moving to Spain in 2015, I heard about Yoga with Adrienne who posts yoga videos on YouTube for all levels and different lengths. I hadn’t had the most regular yoga practice back in Seattle, and it was the discovery of her videos that really laid the foundation for more regular practice. The best part about it all was that for the most part, no equipment was required. This is true for most yoga, after all the classic yogis of India certainly did not have fancy Lululemon equipment- they just had their bodies.
At most, it might require a yoga block, and a yoga mat is nice but certainly not required. I’ve practiced plenty on grass and carpeted spaces. The more comfortable you become with yoga, or any workout really, the less guidance you need. As my practice grew, I eventually found that I didn’t even need to watch a video or tutorial and could just do free flows whenever and wherever my body craved.
To this day, it is one of my favorite ways to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally in good shape—especially as a digital nomad. Vinyasa is my preferred method since it’s a bit faster flowing, but listen to your body and practice the version that feels right for you.
Online Memberships and Apps
Classpass, Obe, Sweat, and Zeamo are just some of the apps that come to mind that I’ve used in the past to stay fit while traveling, abroad, or while in quarantine the past few months- again no gym membership required at all. The latter two are also great at building a community of supportive and other like-minded fitness people around the world. All of them offer a variety of workouts at different levels, difficulties, and target areas. And most of them even offer free or reduced-price trials to try them out before you commit long term. They’re user friendly, have intuitive apps, and are another great option for staying in shape while traveling.
At the end of the day, YouTube and the internet in general all offer a plethora of endless options for staying fit while abroad, traveling, or from home. There’s no reason in this day and age that you can’t have your cake and eat it too (and by that, I mean travel and stay fit). It has honestly never been easier for digital nomads to keep up with their fitness routine than it is now, and the options are likely only to continue growing in the age of coronavirus.
Written by Gigi Oseguera Tapia, a Mexican born, Seattle bred, and New York-based digital marketing professional. She has lived in 6 countries and traveled to 34, and is always dreaming up her next trip. She is an avid yogi, runner, and coffee shop goer and is passionate about sustainability and environmental causes.