When Life Takes You on the Road, Here’s How to Avoid a #FitnessFail

Some years ago, I began to acknowledge my dualistic nature. My individual needs are sometimes difficult to meet because I want or need two opposing things at once. I become anxious in the face of great change and simultaneously crave to live outside of my comfort zone. I thrive on routine but longstanding, unexamined patterns grow mundane, making me feel that I am living too restrained.

Five years ago I moved abroad to fulfill an intuitive sense that I needed to live outside my Midwestern box. In order to balance the excitement with feelings of overwhelm, one of the first things I did when arriving in Quito, Ecuador was find a gym to go to. I developed a nightly schedule around spinning classes and self-guided lifting sessions to help me keep my grounding during such great change.  

working out on the road

My current residence is now Shenzhen, China. By choice, I am traveling more, getting swept away from my new abode for trips around Asia and by awesome opportunities with my students. This past weekend I flew with 16 of them to Beijing for a Model United Nations conference. It was my first time leading such a trip, and it was a new experience being on duty 24 hours a day. My students are wonderful, but teacher-momming can be exhausting. Playing Little Bo Peep to so many sheep has offered me a newfound empathy for all of the moms and dads reading along.

Life abroad has helped me to balance many of my competing desires, but a nomadic lifestyle will also present challenges. Below are ways I have learned to navigate my need for a regular fitness routine when I am so often on the fly.

I don’t do mornings … or do I?

This past trip I was especially thinking about my friends who are parents and professionals, working to juggle their job and their marriage, their children and fostering friendships while also carving out time to keep their hearts healthy, arising long before the sun to get their sweat on — they have #adultingsuperpowers. While my natural superpowers revolve around chocolate consumption, I have a growth mindset and thus believe we can all nurture additional powers.

Ultimately, it was The Sweatworking App that helped me develop my I-can-rise-before-dawn-to-get-my-sweat-on superpower. On this trip, there was zero opportunity  for mid-day or evening workouts. And I am not a morning person generally. But I had kick-ass workouts at my fingertips with the app and my current #FastFeetChi challenge.

I don’t have the time … or do I?

I used to be of the mindset that one needed to spend at least an hour in the gym to get results; workouts with Liu Gross and Courtney Belcastro have me flexing my biceps proudly after 20-30 minutes of strength or HIIT training now. I can conceive of setting my alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier, while if I had to carve out an hour, and get to and from a hotel gym, that workout would not have happened.

I don’t have access to enough variation … or do I?

I was in Chicago this summer for a Sista-Friend Weekend. My sisters and I connected with Jeana for awesome classes at Soul Cycle and Barry’s Boot Camp. Some parts of the US are on fire with fitness options. China? Less so. There is a slowly growing yoga scene, and I have gotten sweaty in a few Body Pump classes, but the choices are still rather limited compared to cities like Chi-town. And this is reason 47 that I am loving me some Sweatworking App. A variety of workout genres and fitness coaches leaves me feeling that my Chinese Five Spice powder isn’t the only thing that’s hot!

I can’t always access my workouts … or can I?

After rocking two mornings of workouts in my challenge, I woke up to a This is China moment when the internet failed to load the video on the app. This did not discourage me for long because, while I prefer the workout videos, the PDF workouts are perfect for scenarios where high-speed connectivity fails. I can put together a solid HIIT workout myself, but after making 1500 decisions the day before, my brain was happy to nap in the passenger seat as my body got busy following Rae Reichlin’s Bodyweight Total Body workout.


I sure am glad that good fitness now fits in our pocket, especially because this weekend I jetset for Sri Lanka. The Sweatworking App won’t be adding weight to my suitcase, but it will keep me toning those lean lines of my body.

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About Jamie Bacigalupo

Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.