About 10 years ago I had to give up running for the usual wear-and-tear reasons. But the void it left was tremendous.
My job, managing an energetic sales team and support staff, is demanding, and running was how I relieved stress while also managing my weight. I knew I needed a new workout.
Another passion of mine is travel, so when I heard about active vacations, I figured I could combine activity with adventure.
After some research I found Wilderness Travel, which combines challenging hikes with a chance to absorb the local culture. Before each trip, they tell you how to prepare. So before a climbing vacation, you might work out for a few weeks on a stair stepper at the gym.
With my running career behind me, I was working out at the gym, and knowing I had an exciting vacation coming up kept me going.
Several years later, my husband and I have hiked the Tatras Mountains in eastern Europe, hiked in Morocco's Sahara, attempted Mount Olympus in Greece, and our most spectacular experience: hiking to the Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan.
Closer to home, I've also enjoyed a hiking/spa/healthy diet program in Killington, Vt. New Life Hiking Spa is run by a couple who spend winters in Naples and summers in Vermont. They offer short getaways and longer get-fit packages at reasonable rates.
These trips are great learning experiences and keep me motivated to stay in top physical condition. I work out with a personal trainer twice a week for balance and strength, ride my bike and walk as much as I can.
This year, I added a new dimension to my adventure travels.
In October, I went to Greece on a two-week trip organized by Global Volunteers. My job: helping local children to learn English. I chose a program in Crete, because my father was born there and emigrated as a small boy. I thought that spending time with local families would give me a better way to connect with my father's home than a typical tourist visit. Also, I had free time for daily walks through archaeological sites and neighboring villages.
I had so many memorable experiences there, but one that stands out was from my first full evening of teaching. I was practicing vocabulary with three teenagers. One of them, a 14-year-old named John, struggled a bit, but tried so hard and was grateful for the help. At the end of class he asked if he could bring in his mandolin to play for me. I was thrilled he wanted to share his talent with me.
The trip was satisfying and even life changing on a different level from my previous adventures. It also was an invaluable reminder that travel can be an opportunity to stay healthy and fit both in body and soul.
Lynn Lotkowictz, 61, works for Florida Trend magazine and lives in Redington Beach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.