Our family of four lives full time on a 41ft sailboat in the Caribbean. Living an “unconventional lifestyle” means we have to get a little creative when it comes to working out. It’s not like we have the space on our boat for a treadmill. And because we are very migrant and travel a lot on and off the boat, we don’t have constant access to gyms for memberships. So we get to think outside the box for ways to stay fit and healthy.
Don’t get me wrong, our workouts are not completely off-the-wall crazy, although I have found myself using canned food for weights!!, it just means that we use what’s around us to stay active rather than going to fitness centres.
Given that most of our activities revolve around nature, since we are fully immersed in it, our entire family can partake in these “workouts”. It’s a double bonus, we get to be active, and by doing so the kids stay busy and entertained. Everyone wins! Another amazing part is that since these activities are such a part of our daily life it’s not like we have to designate a specific few hours to “workout time”, they just seem to happen at some point throughout our day.
Are you curious as to what it is that gets us moving? On any given day you will find us doing at least one of the activities below:
It may seem silly to count putting one foot in front of the other as a workout, but when you do it as much as we do, it definitely keeps you moving. Unless we are staying on an island for an extended amount of time, we usually don’t buy a car. This means that we are left with either local transportation, if the island has such a thing, or our own two feet to do things like the groceries, activities on shore, and discovering new spots. Also, since we have only 41ft of living space, and two active girls, staying on the boat for an entire day usually isn’t too healthy for my mental stability…so we go out. With a backpack on, a water bottle, some snacks and adventurous attitudes we go walking for anywhere between 30min to 2 hours almost daily. If we feel like an extra challenge we make a stop at the grocery store or the library along the way, meaning we are adding some extra weight to our pack for the trip home!
With the help of the internet and guide books we can find designated hiking trails for almost all of the islands we sail to. These trails sometimes just have us working out or going to pretty lookout points, while other times they have educational fun along the way (like labeled plants and trees, salt ponds, petroglyphs, or ruins). When we come across an island that has hikes that have an educational aspect, it gives us even more incentive to go out and try them because then we can integrate the learning into the girls’ homeschooling lessons. BONUS!
Swimming - Diving
We are constantly surrounded by a great big pool. Now you won’t find me swimming laps (although some boaters definitely do) but when the girls jump in and have fun we find ourselves treading water in the vicinity to make sure that they are staying safe. Trust me, half an hour of treading water while the girls pretend to be mermaids leaves my glutes extremely sore the following day. This is an activity that we love to do as a family. Everyone throws on their masks and snorkels (even our 3 year old) and we go off on a search for sea creatures. With determination our girls can do this for a couple of hours, and it has granted us some amazing experiences, such as swimming with sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, rays, eels, fish, and more. If that’s not enough to entice someone than I don’t know what is!
Stand Up Paddle-boarding
This may seem like more of a leisurely activity, but if ever you make the mistake, like I have before, of paddling with the current first, you will experience how much of a workout it is when you are trying to make your way back home (up current). I learned my lesson! We often plop the girls on the board with us and paddle around a bay. This gives us a great arm, core, and glute workout, while the girls enjoy the scenery or look for fish. Yoga is another fun one to attempt on a SUP. Although this is
more of a solo activity our girls love to sit and watch me do yoga on the standup paddle board. I think its because they secretly hope to see me fall in! We tie the board off the back of our sailboat and I go through “the flow” with the coaching of an audio class I have on the ipad.
The lifestyle we lead is often a workout in itself. Depending on our anchorage, we sometimes find ourselves lugging big jugs of drinking water onto our boat. Or hoisting up sails. Or raising the dinghy onto the deck. These activities will often leave us in a sweaty mess and feeling sore for a few days after. That counts as a workout, right!?
Chasing after kids
Finally, you don’t need to be living on a sailboat to know how much of a workout it is just to be chasing after your active kids! All of their comings and goings, playing make-believe pirates, and swinging around at the playground is enough to keep us moving daily. And this is part of our every day, so combining this with any of our other above “workouts” leaves us feeling like we are succeeding at living a pretty active lifestyle.
Our lifestyle may not be for everyone, but the simplistic approach we take to staying active is one that any family could integrate into their lives, no matter where they live (minus maybe the snorkelling with wild animals!). All it really requires is stepping outside and finding the ways that you can get sweaty while doing your daily activities. It’s a step in the right direction.
Read more interesting articles from Genevieve about her adventurous life on the boat here.