How to stay fit on the road? The MotoBirds Fitness Drill
We’re pretty sure most of the adventure motorbike riders have at some point or other stumbled upon that existential question: how the hell do we keep at least a little bit fit, while on the road. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Sitting on a motorcycle for hours every day does not really count as sport, unless you’re a competition rider. This being out of the way, let us consider our options…
Oftentimes we’re conditioned to think that fitness is attached to gyms or sophisticated equipment. The good news is that it does not have to be the case. This is good news, as being on the road, finding a new gym subscription is certainly not what we’re looking for at the end of each riding day!
The locations keep changing
While on motorbike trips, there are no gyms to go to, no spinning classes and we also change locations almost every day.
So… This does not mean we’re doomed to turn into motorized versions of couch potatoes, along with sore backs, soft bellies and other ailments! A passion for adventure motorcycle rides does absolutely not have to be associated with being less fit. All it takes is a little motivation, 45 minutes per day and more or less a EUR200 investment – or less- that will stay with you for years. Does that sound like a good deal?
In this post, we’ll share what the MotoBirds team learned about keeping fit, how we do it, and how much time it (really) takes us.
The Challenge: how to stay fit on the road
At MotoBirds, we spend several months of the year on the road, either leading groups on adventure motorbike rides on various continents, or going on our very own adventure motorbike trips.
We had no intention to turn into big softies. We also have a pretty essential need to keep fit, if only to run our business. In other words, we know well that unless we stay in shape, we simply cannot stay in this line of work. Riding a bike for weeks in a row, in different climates, conditions, and so on requires stamina.
Secondly, we’re also passionate about other off-bike activities, such as mountain biking and outdoor activities. Finally, we also feel more alive being fit.
The MotoBirds Fitness Drill
We’ve had ample opportunity to try different things over the years. We believe we eventually came up with practical solutions: Solutions that are both achievable and affordable. We’re not going to give you a detailed workout routine here. After all, we’re not fitness coaches! Rather, we’ll tell you how we do it and what tools we use, and how much time we need to achieve just that.
We Must keep it Short
While on trips, we’re typically really busy: breakfast starts typically at 7:30. In addition to this, we need to check bikes, lube chains, prepare for the day, etc. Unless we get our fitness routine done before breakfast, it simply will not happen. Our fitness routine is therefore not something that we can afford to spend hours on: We have a maximum time of one hour, including shower, and dressing-up for the day’s ride to get all this done.
You’ll only need 45 minutes
We’ve fine-tuned our MotoBirds fitness routine into a 45-minute stint that we start immediately after crawling out of bed. Yes, sometimes it’s really hard, let’s not pussy-foot about it: But we know how important it is to do it. Sadly, we’re not in our twenties any more… Getting back into shape would be seriously hard if we were to stop. We therefore try to be consistent about our fitness regime, and generally 6 days per week we manage to do so.
The One Essential Tool
What is absolutely needed for this?
We never leave on a trip without our suspension trainer either a door or any fixed point that you can safely anchor it to. It is also pretty much indestructible and can be packed really easily pretty much anywhere in our luggage.
There are essentially three aspects required to keep fit. We’ll go through them here and explain why and what we do.
Mobility: 15 minutes
Mobility is probably one of the single most important elements of any fitness routine. Flexible joints and muscles help prevent injury. We all know this. Stretching exercises are often the most hated routines of people who work out, yet they don’t have to be and they are essential.
With the suspension trainer, there are loads of exercises that will simultaneously reinforce core stability muscles (more on this later) and help you stretch. We can’t emphasize enough how critical these stretching and mobility exercises are. A flexible body is the foundation that supports everything else.
Secondly, it is impossible to overstate how important we find a short yoga session to be. It does not have to be long: even 10 minutes, right after waking up, will do wonders. This is where the mat or blanket will come in handy…
During our MotoBirds trips, we always stay in hotels or pensions and the luggage travels in the support car. Our yoga mat then always comes with us. Our own adventure trips always involve camping: We then have no space for the yoga mat and we use whatever we can find handy.
As a tip: Alternating yoga sessions with TRX mobility exercises works very well for us. It prevents boredom and keeps things interesting.
Core Strength: 30 minutes
By core strength, we do not mean morphing into a Silvester Stallone lookalike full of bulging muscles, on a motorbike.
We refer to those deeper muscles which allow your body to function the way it is intended. These are the muscles around your pelvis and trunk. Those core muscles keep your spine in place and maintain your posture. Having strong core muscles also gives you better balance and stability. Exercising core muscles in a coordinated way always results in better overall fitness.
Suspension Trainer does magic.
Our suspension trainer is the only tool we use for this, and we feel it works wonders. We perform a 30 minutes per day exercise routine that always involves planks and back exercises.
We found it is possible to squeeze in a more intensive work-out by alternating exercises involving different muscle groups: for instance, a plank immediately followed by back or leg exercises. This way, it is possible to reduce the resting time between each workout and squeeze more exercises into that 30-minute window.
What’s great with TRX sessions is that once you have developed some core strength there are few limits to what exercises can be done and how they can be combined.
When we get bored with the exercises we know well, we sometimes get inspiration for new combinations from YouTube channels or exercise apps. By coming up with new routines, exercises, integrating different muscle groups into a single exercise, we keep it interesting and challenging.
Finally, having a faithful training partner sharing the same goals goes a long way to keep the motivation intact! Ola and Guy are perfect proof of this rule.
Well, for endurance, the bad news is there’s unfortunately no silver bullet… If water at an acceptable temperature is available nearby, we swim. Alternatively, we try to go for a short run once or twice per week. When we end the trip or have a break from riding, we go back to running or cycling. We found out that we regain whatever endurance we lost while on trips pretty quickly and painlessly.
Together is better
Bikers on MotoBirds trips often ask to join in when they see us working out. We exercise together in groups very often. This is not only pleasant, but also more motivating.
If you happen to ride with us on a MotoBirds trip you’ll also maybe care to join us in the morning? You’ll return home having not only experienced the ride of your life, but possibly fitter than when you left!
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