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Go Global, Workout Local

There are lots of ways to begin to get to know a new place, slowly understanding depth and nuances about people and places that a guidebook alone is incapable of exposing. For an artist friend of mine, this deeper level of insight comes from immersing herself in a city’s art scene, browsing gallery after gallery in search of a piece of the city she can take home. A foodie friend scours every place she goes for the most local and authentic meal. A writer friend deepens her understanding of a place by learning the stories of the people who define it – the watchmaker in Geneva…the cheesemaker in Wisconsin…the factory worker in Shangai.

And for some of us, connecting with a new place can be about working out with the locals – running trails in off-the-grid places, trying the local fitness studios, or signing up for a local event. For example, during a recent trip to Calgary, I checked out two of the many indoor cycling studios in town – One Cycle and Peleton. Both boasted the high-caliber of instruction one would expect from a place where people are forced to workout indoors for the majority of the year, solidifying my perception of Calgarians as fit, hearty, and fun. A few weeks later, I joined a team of six other runners who spent a day circumnavigating the 72 miles around Lake Tahoe, leapfrogging teams from all over Northern California and taking in the spectacular beauty of Tahoe in the summer.  As does the rest of the world, Lake Tahoe looks different when it’s taken in on foot.

In the shadow of the solstice, as the summer travel season picks up, take a bit of time to plan ways to energize your workouts when you’re away from home. Here are a few ideas to inspire workouts away from home and connect with new people and a new place to boot:

  • Find a Guru. Most places have some sort of “celebrity” fitness scene. New York City’s is enormous…Bozeman, Montana’s might be smaller. But most places have a teacher or two who really stands out.  To find these people, search Yelp, post on Facebook, ask around when you arrive.  Questions like “if I can go to one fitness class when I’m in town, what do you recommend?” tend to work.  Even if it’s a brand new sport — logrolling or wife carrying, for example — give it a shot and see what the locals are raving about.
  • Sign Up for a Local Event. When you’re planning your trip, search for any local events happening while you’re in town. Joining for a 5k or SUP race or mountain bike ride can offer local flavor and give you a reason to swap you sandcastle for a sweat session.  One of my favorite memories of a destination event is the annual New Year’s Eve loop around Central Park in New York City.  Every time I run that loop to this day, I picture it at midnight.
  • Strike a Pose. In a natural place, yoga is a great way to connect with your surroundings. Work on learning a new posture, or series of postures, while you’re away. Practicing mountain pose looking an a mountain beats doing the pose looking in studio mirror.  During a sabbatical in Mexico, I taught myself the Asthanga primary series, and to this day, I associate that practice with Uruapan, Mexico.
  • Blaze a Trail. Run or bike on a local trail, stopping at the visitor’s center to chat up the locals and discover things you might not find on your own.  If you need some inspiration, here are National Geographic’s 15 World’s Best Hikes.
  • Go for an Urban Hike.   If you’re traveling to a city, design an urban hike while you’re there. Identify destinations you want to hit, and design a route that takes you from place to place.  Soak in the city, and you won’t even feel the miles clip by.

Whether you plan your trips around fitness this summer, or plan your fitness around your trips, try something new while you’re away from home. Catch up on your sleep, but make time for a few sun salutations or a spin class too.

Do you have a fitness experience to recommend in your city or one you’ve visited?  Post your favorites here!

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