Hands up who wants to get fit? It’s an ambition many of us hanker after at the beginning of a new year – but wow, can it be boring. There are only so many re-runs of Home and Away one can watch on a treadmill before losing the will altogether, and the appeal of swimming rather fades when you have you battle it out against the hordes who fill your local pool (not to mention the inevitable Toddler Splash session taking place in the shallow end).
Travel the world, however, and the quest to get fit takes on a whole new dimension. Instead of being a chore, getting a sweat on is something that you just happen to do – as part of a wider adventure. You stop focusing on the relentless grind, and instead simply lose yourself in the moment. The delicate psychological balance that underscores all workouts swings in your favour. And before you know it, you’re reeling in a cardio hit; with zero pain or banality. Here are 6 experiences that will trick your mind and body into getting fit the fun way:
Hike to a sunrise
Not many things will get us out of bed at 2am, but the promise of a magnificent sunrise view might just do it. There’s something quite magical about making a dawn ascent in cool mountain air, with the whisper of the jungle trees all around you. Our trek up Mount Batur in Bali, a live volcano in the northeast of the country, takes around two to three hours. Rocky alpine paths spiral upwards below a starlit sky, and with the summit at 1,700 metres, it’s a fair old workout. Hit the top in time to see the horizon come alive in a kaleidoscope of golden, pink and lavender hues.
Find a golden picnic spot
As anyone who’s ever wandered for hours across Hampstead Heath can attest, finding the perfect picnic spot takes dedication. And this is especially true when you’re abroad, in unknown territory. On our Myanmar trip, we trek several hours through thick jungle forestland to the Kayan village of Pan Pet, one of the first settlements of its kind in the Kayah state. After a decades-long ban on tourists, this area is slowly opening up to visitors. Reward your hiking effort with some hearty local produce in a jungle picnic here, and savour the untouched beauty of the ancient landscape all around.
Paddle-boarding is a fantastic way to get fit; it’s an all-body workout, and one you can truly enjoy. We get stuck right in on our South Africa adventure, with a spot of stand-up paddle-boarding on the Cape Peninsula. Trust us, there are few sweeter places on earth in which to glide across the shimmering water. Even if what you’re doing is technically more of a wobble than a paddle (hand in the air here), you’ll still get those calories burning. In fact, you’ll likely be sweating within minutes, as your quads snap into service after months of neglect. But forget the ache: your heart and mind will be on the irresistible feel of zipping across the sea.
Take a foodie foray
Get your Fit Bit fired up, and hit your step target with a vigorous urban schlep. Our weekend escape to Quebec includes a gastronomic romp around Montreal, a much-loved city of dizzying contrasts. Sample the delights of innovative North American gastronomy and traditional French cooking as you make your way through Vieux-Montréal, the city’s historic heartland. You might try anything from beet-infused salmon gravadlax bagel to craft beer and a modern twist on poutine (Canada’s signature dish of French fries heaped with cheese curd and gravy). Along the way, you’ll be pounding a pace around narrow cobbled streets and beguiling buildings, working off whatever you put in.
Climb through the canopy
Want to get up close and personal with some wonderful wildlife? You’ll need to head to the trees. Jungles across the world from Costa Rica to Peru now offer the chance to see tropical birds, sloths and more in their natural habitat, via a labyrinth of hanging bridges. Suspended tens of feet into the air, these swinging walkways are an adventurer’s dream. You could lose yourself for hours just wandering through the forest treetops. Immerse yourself in the tropical wilderness, with chirruping of frogs and the shriek of monkeys all around. Forget pounding tunes; the cacophony of the forest is the best workout soundtrack you could ask for.
Beach-hop like a pro
A day spent beach-hopping on a private boat sounds like the ultimate chill, and so it is. But there are also plenty of avenues for an impromptu workout, too. Our getaway to Colombia comes to a finale with a day spent zipping around the Rosario Islands, a labyrinth of hidden beaches and coves off the coast of Cartagena. Explore this Caribbean paradise by snorkelling your way around spectacular coral reef, keeping an eye out for sea turtles and reef sharks along the way. Whether you’re diving off the boat into warm, tropical waters, or hiring a jet ski from a local island, there are so many ways to get your pulse pumping here. It’s the most compelling natural gym we know of…
Photos: Shutterstock and Flash Pack