Keeping fit, strong, and healthy during early retirement budget travel

Oaxaca City is gorgeous. I’ve spent a lot of time walking around and exploring this colorful city. I’ve also been spending some time at the gym.

Keeping up a workout routine while living and traveling abroad can be difficult. New cities always take a bit of time to get used to, and new climates, landscapes, and altitudes present different challenges. I’m always changing the way I work out based on where we are. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

On the Caribbean coast in Mexico, I swam a lot. On the Pacific coast of Mexico, I jogged on tracks (Puerto Vallarta has a great Olympic track, and Huatulco has a decent dirt track) or I jogged on the beach (Puerto Escondido is my favorite beach to jog). In San Cristobal, I did church stairs at a 7,000 foot elevation. In Guatemala, I joined a gym (and hiked a few volcanoes, including a hike to see an active volcano that was challenging for me).

Sport Center Oaxaca selfieI decided the best workout routine for me here in Oaxaca City would be inside another gym, even though I prefer to be outside. Cardio machines like the CrossFit spare my knees on pavement jogs and are easier on my still-sometimes-sore breast from the surgical biopsy back in March. CrossFit machines also save my feet from blisters (a never-ending battle with me and shoes and socks). The gym is a 20 minute walk away, so I’m outdoors for that, plus all of the walking we do exploring the city.

I’m also using weight machines at this gym. I’ve never consistently used weights over the years, but I want to try now. I understand a perimenopausal woman like myself can really benefit from adding muscle. As I’ve pointed out before, a key to an early retirement budget travel gig is to be healthy and fit.

Some differences between gyms in Mexico and Guatemala, and the U.S.

There are some differences between gyms in Mexico and Guatemala, and at home. One big difference is how people use machines: when you are done with a set, you get off the machine and let another person use the machine while you take your small rest. No one wipes it off unless it’s covered with sweat. I’m a morning exerciser, and there are less people in the mornings, thus less sharing the machines.

Another difference is the whole membership thing. There’s no yearly demand to sign up, or yearly hard sell. If you want just a month, that’s fine. No credit card needed. Simply pay in cash and have at it. I paid cash in both Mexico and Guatemala with no hassle or hard sell.

Music is a big difference too. Here in Oaxaca City, and also in Antigua, the gyms blast the music – and I mean blast. I can hear the gym’s music as I’m walking two blocks away. I still use my own music for the cardio portion of my workout, but on weight machines for legs, I would go crazy if I tried to keep in my ear buds. So I succumb to the Latin rhythm while using some machines, and it’s not half bad.

My membership at Sport Center Oaxaca cost 550 pesos for one month of cardio machines and weights (they were having a special). That’s about a dollar a day at the current exchange rate. There is an extra cost to use the pool, but I don’t need that this time around. I like the gym – it has everything I need for this month, the staff is helpful, and there is a small cafe off to the side if you want a juice or a meal after a workout. Haven’t tried the cafe, but I’d recommend the gym if you’re staying in this part of town. The website is here.

A great way to stay motivated: support from other expat women

When I’m not at a gym, or running on a beach, or swimming in the Caribbean, or hiking, etc., I have to get even more creative. Sure, I can do push ups and sit ups and stuff, but I’m not that inspired. It’s a good thing I found a useful and helpful Facebook group for expat women. The idea of the group is to help each other stay motivated and keep an active lifestyle to stay healthy – regardless of your location and the challenges (and deficiencies) it may bring. This group and its creator have helped me!

Back in Antigua, before I joined a gym, I took on a ‘burpee challenge’ organized by this group’s leader. This was post-biopsy, when I didn’t feel like jogging much. (I still don’t feel like jogging much, but that’s another story.) The challenge gave me a kick-start, and reporting to the group every day held me accountable. I was motivated to do more, and that’s when I went to join the gym – the first gym I joined on this early retirement budget travel adventure.

That Facebook group is run by a woman who’s a lifestyle coach for expat women and, coincidentally, she’s based in Oaxaca! I’ve been a member of the group for a few months and now that I’m in Oaxaca, I had the chance to meet her. Let me tell you what – she’s awesome. She is beautiful inside and out.

We spent some hours talking and I look forward to meeting up with her again during our stay in Oaxaca. Search for “The Femme Fuerte Abroad” and you’ll find her special, closed Facebook group. I know there are expat women or soon-to-be expat women who regularly read this blog, who might benefit from a boost now and then – just like me. I’ll write more about Staci and her group in a future post.

I’ll also write about some of the attractions we’re enjoying and good places to eat in this fabulous city in the coming days. We are in Oaxaca for another three-plus weeks, and there is a lot to love about this place!

Oaxaca Cathedral plaza







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