Thursday, December 4, 2008

What I did on My Trip to Cyprus...

As I mentioned a while back, I went to Cyprus for work for several weeks and was debating how to work out while I was there. Several of you had some very handy suggestions... Some of them were totally doable, others were maybe more applicable to traveling in the US and staying in hotels. (I'm just guessing here... I don't do that for work very often.)

So here's how the fitness game played out for me. I went to Cyprus to start editing a documentary. I knew I had a ton of work to do and limited time in which to do it. This translated to many many long hours spend sitting at my computer, for days on end.

The first several weeks, my working out was intermittent. No matter what I told myself at the start of the trip, heading into it, once on the ground nothing could pull me away from the looming mountain of work that needed sorting through. I'd get to the computer in the morning and work straight through till 1:30pm when my director showed up. We'd have lunch together and then edit until 8:30pm or so, when it was time for dinner. Occasionally, we'd go back to work after dinner. The working out wasn't really happening. I'd squeak in a run maybe in the morning, but that only happened 2 or 3 times those first couple of weeks.

In addition to that, I was being fed 3 meals a day by a fantastic cook (the director's mother) who was intent on teaching me about Cypriot cuisine. Which is delicious. This didn't help me stay in shape though.

My last 10 days there, my aching, stiff, tensed up body finally caused me so much pain (and actually threatened me with a gun) that I figured out a way to make the working out and working work out for me. (Was that too much work? I thought so. My apologies)

Here's what I did:
Every evening, if it got to be 7pm and I hadn't done a workout yet that day, I would tell my director that no matter what, I had to go get a workout in an hour before dinner was served. That resolved the timing issue. She was understanding.

The next issue was what workout to do. The obvious easy answer was running. There was a lovely trail right near my house that was beautiful and filled with other walkers, runners, bikers and mysteriously, kittens. Lots of kittens. They occasionally attacked but not in any seriously harmful way. So I ran about every other day, but I wanted a more balanced workout regimen.

I didn't have weights: couldn't bring them with me and didn't really have the knowledge or flexibility or frankly the desire to spend euros on weights I would abandon at the end of the trip. Unfortunately, this eliminated a lot of the P90X workouts. The other limitation was time: I really didn't have the luxury of doing Yoga X, while I would have loved to, for 2 reasons: one was that it's an hour and a half and that was just too long for me to take during our joint workout time. (Also, please don't tell me I should have gotten up in the morning and done it before work. I'm not a morning person at the best of times and given the difficulty of the topic I was working, I wasn't really sleeping well, so that made waking up all the more difficult).
The other was that the intensity of my work schedule was messing up my wrists again and I didn't have my Push up bars for all the downward dogs. Ouch!

The only plausible P90X that really left me was Cardio X (well, Core Synergistics was also an option but that also had too many push ups for my wrists). So I started my 10 day program with that. The next day was a long run. So far though, that doesn't leave too much variety if I just alternate the two.

That's when I discovered this new concept, something I'd never done before. It solved all my basic problems: variety to keep the workouts interesting, variety to also shift the focus on different parts of my body, flexible timing so that I could fit in a workout in the amount of time that I had, something that I could do from my living room in Cyprus without having to purchase or bring something with me...

The answer was Podcasts! I browsed around in iTunes and discovered that there are tons of workout podcasts out there... It's amazing! While I was there, I found two yoga podcasts and a pilates one. The workouts are as long as 30 minutes or so and as short as 3 minutes: just one move. You can find workouts to stretch your body post run, workouts to strengthen your core, release your office stress, sleep better, upper body, lower body, morning wake up (yeah right!)... The options are endless.

So now, on alternating days, when I wasn't running or doing CardioX (which I still love), I selected around 30-50 minutes worth of yoga and pilates to satisfy whatever I felt my body was missing, workout-wise. It was fantastic.

The podcasts I enjoyed were:
* Yogamazing: This is the one I used the most.
* Yoga Today: Liked Adi, not so much Sarah Kline, or at least not her workout for walkers and hikers.
* Pilates on Fifth: Pretty good 30-min workout, though they occasionally say "do the same on the other side," so you have to hop up and pause it to do that, which sucks.

These are just quick first impressions. I'm going through the workouts and will have more details on them soon. But on the whole: great resource, greatly varied, can access it from anywhere and doesn't need equipment (well, I did have a borrowed yoga mat, but could do it without).

What about y'all? Any workout podcasts I should know about?