Fitness is big business. In the US alone the industry pulls in about $18 billion and that doesn’t include dietary supplements ($20 billion) or the booming diet industry ($40 billion). You might think that as a poor nomadic traveler I don’t contribute to this industry, but check out my gear:
Laugh all you want at my budget training equipment, but when I left the office three years ago I was an overweight chair warmer who, despite many well intentioned diets, weighed 200lbs (90+ kilos). I’d never entered a race and thought that making my way through a crowded bar was
going for a walk. Now, after three years as a nomad, I’ve finished an Ironman, trekked up to Everest base camp and biked across Europe.
This semi-miraculous increase in fitness isn’t even all that miraculous. Anthropologist have found that the nomads are generally healthier than their stationary, agricultural cousins and my life is certainly healthier than is has ever been before. Just the amount of walking I do now ensures that. Walking may not sound like much, but it burns 300 plus calories an hour while sitting still burns a mere 60. That adds up after a few years on the road.
It’s true I live out of a backpack, but limited equipment is hardly a problem when it comes to fitness. African long distant runners often train for years without even shoes. Perhaps you think that works only for running and your goal is to be more muscular. Check out Fedor Emelianenko, one of the worlds greatest, heavyweight fighters, in this video. The fanciest gear he uses are the bars on a playground and an old tire. Too testosterone filled? Last I checked yoga didn’t require anything either.
My point isn’t that gyms are bad. I like gyms and they can be both fun and productive. The problem is that as with so many other parts of life, buying something (like a gym membership) is equated with improving at something. In reality there are very few things that you can buy that will really help with anything. Of course I’m as materialistic as the next person and when I had the money I tried to buy everything I could get my greedy, little hands on. It just didn’t help.
Aside from running, I generally take a few major trips a year which put more serious demands on my body – trekking to Everest base camp, biking through France – while this is hardly my day to day life, these trips are almost like mini-boot camps that keep up my overall fitness for the rest of the year. Maybe the best part is that despite some excellent results I never take these trips to get in shape, I just go to see new places and getting is shape is a side effect.
I’m grateful to for many of the changes my years on the road have brought about in my life. I was setting a bad pattern before. Getting in shape, relationships, education: overtime all these things had started to seem like work. Now I just go search for fun and fitness, like so many other things, falls into place.“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
-Paul Dudley White