I could sit here and lie to you, telling you that finding motivation to work out while you’re abroad is easy, but I think every healthy relationship is built on honesty and trust. So, since break ups are awful and I’m not really in the mood for a sad Taylor Swift sing-a-long, I’m just going to be honest with you– I think working out abroad sucks. Sometimes the only adequate way to describe the morning after Loco Lunes is Muerto Martes, rendering the idea of lacing up your running shoes unfathomable.
I went into my semester thinking I’d maintain my normal schedule of 3-5 workouts a week. HA! Unless you consider me lifting a cafe con leche to my mouth as weight training, then I didn’t even come close. But, like I said in my first post, I did gain a solid 8-10 pounds in my 4 months in Barcelona/Europe and I definitely attribute some of that to my lack of physical activity. Once I finally came to terms with the fact that my jeans not fitting had more to do with pan con tomate and less to do with my señora’s laundry techniques, I came up with some “passive exercise” guidelines for myself. Aquí están:
1. Opt to walk over taking the metro whenever you can. I gave myself the general rule that if my destination was three or less metro stops away, I’d walk it.
2. STAIRS. Just take ‘em. Yes, the escalator will likely be in your peripheral vision taunting you, but taking it won’t help you burn the croissant you just scarfed down. In the last few weeks of my semester, I only took the stairs. I walked up to my apartment, up to class, up and down/into and out of the metro station, everywhere. My shortness of breath confirmed how out of shape I’d gotten and motivated me to trudge on.
3. When you’re out at a club, don’t be a wallflower, because this doesn’t burn many calories and because YOLO. Dance instead! On more than one occasion, I had to remove my tights from under my dress in the middle of the club to prevent overheating from my (awesome, but still totally normal) dance moves. I never said this blog would teach you how to be classy.
4. Doing walk/runs through the city or at local parks is a great way to explore and people watch. I didn’t run as much as I should have, but I did have my route down Gran Via for the weekdays, and I loved (ok, maybe “loved” is an exaggeration) jogging through Parc de la Ciutadella or down the beach on weekends when I had more time.
5. Consider some simple body weight-bearing exercises to do at home. From the bottom up– calf raises, squats, inner thigh lifts, bicycle crunches (this will target your abdominals and obliques), and push ups. With the best of intentions, I made sure to bring the Insanity work out DVDs with me to Barcelona. Unfortunately, I was afraid the floor of my old apartment building would fall through during the plyometrics (fancy word for jumping). And, if you followed my study abroad blog, you’d know that I didn’t need to put any more stress on the relationship between me and my señora.
6. When you’re on a trip, ditch the bus tour. First of all, they’re lame, so you should already be thanking me for this tip. Instead, go for a walking or bike tour. Walking tours are generally free, just make sure to tip the guide for being such a benevolent gem. Biking tours let you see the city in a unique way and you cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. As an added bonus, the leaders are often young, attractive European guys with better style than that kid you met at Opium the night before.
And that, my friends, is how you can learn from my mistakes. Preferable to learning from your own, no?