In an age where everyone with a social media platform is offering health advice, it’s more important than ever to seek information from a trusted source. In this weekly feature, Dublin-based yoga teacher and owner of Sweaty Soul Studio Molly McKeever talks to Freya Drohan about the benefits of incorporating some form of movement while travelling.
"I am going to do my best not to sound smug or bore you to death with my, perhaps, over-enthusiastic and endless list of benefits to working out while travelling," McKeever laughed to IMAGE.ie. But, after all, she does practice what she preaches. Not only does she run multiple yoga retreats in Ireland and abroad throughout the year, but her own life is punctuated by picturesque travels, during which she always manages to squeeze in some kind of exercise.
"First, I think it's important to define what, in my eyes, I see as a workout. A vacay-workout does not have to look like 60 minutes in a dark, dungeon-like gym surrounded by squat racks and intimidating bodybuilders! For me a workout, whether I am in the comfort of my home or abroad on an adventure, is whatever my body and schedule craves," she noted.
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SAVE THE DATE 16-23 OCT 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣9️⃣ It never ceases to astound me that each time I announce another retreat, expecting to run out of people interested, I have the numbers to host not one but TWO international retreats a year. This October I will be hosting my 8th Yoga Retreat in Crete, in a small coastal village called Paleochora, a place that has been my home away from home since I was 3 months old ☀️ I am lucky enough to seize the opportunity once again, to share it’s unique enchantment. I am so excited to share this journey with each of you, in which we will both individually, and collectively, experience unforgettable moments in this special part of the world. Hosting these retreats have provided me with countless memorable adventures but the one thing that stands out above the rest is the friends I have made. This unique place brings out the best in everyone and with yoga twice daily, sun on your skin, hiking trails, kayaking on the Aegean coast, to name but a few itinerary treats, I can promise nothing but a life changing experience 🧘🏼♀️🙏🏻 Email me at [email protected] to book your space and join out October 2019 group 🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷 PS flights are currently less than €150 return which means with the Retreat’s Early Bird price of €799 you’re getting a week long yoga holiday for under €950 💯 #yoga #yogaretreat #crete #yogaeverydamday #travel #adventure #holiday
While living in New York, McKeever got used to jogging the streets of Manhattan to cope with a crazy work schedule. Running became an outlet — even in the city's infamous summer humidity.
"When the weather was divinely hot it made sense to take advantage of the opportunity to sweat on my doorstep. This is one of the many important things I took from my New York experience: I began to let go of the limitations of 'having' to get to a class or to the gym, and it redefined what working out was in my life."
Nowadays, as she juggles running her successful city centre studio, teaching classes, fitting in her own workouts, personal travel (and documenting it all on her blog/social channels) she still adheres by the same exercise ethos. Essentially, that working out while in a new, exciting city gives you another avenue to enhance your travel experience.
"When I returned to Dublin, it meant working out was part of my life in a way I never knew possible. My workouts ended up being a great way to explore my mood. Weekends in Paris transformed from lazy lie-ons to a run along the Seine, finding new views and cute cafés. Sub-zero days in our stunning Scandi apartment in Copenhagen looked like a heat-filled resistance band HIIT workout (before skipping out to our mouth-watering dinner reservation at Mirabelle.) Not only does it make my holiday experience a true reflection of what I love doing, but it heightens the experience with boosted energy, a larger appetite — and sometimes even a way to explore an unfamiliar place (on foot)."
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HEADS UP 👋🏻 Next week at @sweatysoulstudio we are stepping it up a notch with a 5 by 4 challenge. This means you commit to doing 5 classes a week for 4 weeks (and yes you can do 2 classes a day!) ‼️ This #challenge fits in right between St.Patricks Day and Easter so no better time to build up a bit of yoga momentum. For those of you not on unlimited memberships, we will have a special 20 Class Challenge Pass €120 (one month expiration). Sign up will be at the studio as of Friday March 15th ☘️☘️☘️ Wearing my new @sweatybetty crop, part of their ‘self care’ yoga campaign ✌🏻 Loving the pop of red ❤️ #yoga #sweatybetty #beach #balance #capetown
Inspired to pack your runners ahead of your next trip? Below are McKeever's tried-and-tested tips on how to schedule in a little movement without taking up your precious tourist time.
1. Hike or run/power walk
Look online to find the closest hike or best running route, and dedicate a day to it. Not only does this provide a chance to see a different side to the place, but by being in nature you are already blowing away any cobwebs you may have from long flights or jet lag. Most cities provide great walking and sometimes running tours of the city (you'll find them on Trip Advisor). In my opinion, it's a way better memory than sitting a bus for two hours.
2. Bring some workout equipment
For me, whether it’s for a sleepover at a friend’s house or two weeks in Vietnam, I bring my flexi resistance bands from McSport Ireland. These weigh nothing (they can even fit in your pocket!) and can be more effective than weights when it comes to breaking a sweat. Over on my Instagram page, I share weekly workouts you can save and use as a go-to when you're away next time. Most of these are 20-30 minute workouts. This means that before you know it, you have squeezed in an unbelievable workout before the breakfast buffet has even opened.
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This year was a struggle in a lot of ways but the good, without a shadow of a doubt, outshone the bad ✨💫 1️⃣ October 2018 I got to travel with two of my now best friends, who had previously joined my Crete Retreat 2017. We laughed, explored and then they both attended my 6th Yoga Retreat in Crete. 2️⃣ I celebrated Sweaty Soul’s 2nd birthday with my amazing clients and now friends. 3️⃣ Conor brought me to London for my birthday where we ate like kings and he surprised me with tickets to The Book of Morman. 4️⃣ A memorable trip to Liverpool visiting my best friend and experiencing @marayliverpool for the first time. 5️⃣ A beautiful adventure with my Úl and her Si followed by a sing song I’ll never forget. 6️⃣ Paris for a day to see my best friend from New York. 7️⃣ My first trip with Conor where he brought me to Copenhagen. 8️⃣ Creating shapes with my favourite human @dominowhisker 9️⃣ The best tacos I’ve ever had in Copenhagen. 🔟 Practicing with @talia_sutra online and in person meant I was lucky enough to experience full bow pose. Forever grateful for the continuous inspiration she gives me. Thank you to everyone who made this year the most memorable to date 💛💛💛 #2018 #memories #throwback #happy
3. Invest in a travel yoga mat
I use the B Yoga travel mat which is super light and folds perfectly so that you can neatly pack it without having to compromise any of your cute vacation outfits. Find a yoga class that you enjoy on YouTube and download it so that, incase of useless WiFi, you have it all set and ready to flow. I have a YouTube channel where I post weekly classes for free and whether you are a regular practitioner or a complete beginner, there is a class level and duration that will give you exactly what your body is craving. Come flow with me and continue all the posi, strengthening and self-care vibes even when you're jet setting.
Especially when travelling to big cities, I adore checking out the most popular classes. Often in bigger, more established cities, there is a selection that can be so fun to try. Again, it’s a great way to heighten your experience by stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something different. Be sure to do a little research online before you go and book the class ahead of time so you don't have to waste precious time trying to organise. (I always do a back-up check on Instagram just to make sure I like the look of it!)
5. Have fun
My last point isn't really a tip, but more of a reminder. YOU’RE ON HOLIDAY SO HAVE FUN! Perhaps you have sacrificed lots of nights out, or shopping sprees etc. to save for this holiday, so you want to get the most out of it. This should take precedence above all else. Working out while away on vacation is so possible... it shouldn't be from a place of guilt, but pure enjoyment. I am a firm believer in movement/exercise as a source of happiness and a path toward your truest, joy-filled self. But, if you're too busy experiencing memories in ways that have nothing to do with breaking a sweat than that is perfect too.
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“ Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness. Silent it will glide on. And what will be the result? “ - Seneca, On the shortness of life. I always come back to this essay and it never ceases to amaze me how in 49AD, like we are today, the people were above all else figuring out the meaning of life. It makes my #heart skip a beat to think that, with all the #time that has passed, we still take this fleeting experience that is life for granted. How do you experience #life to the fullest? What is truly important to you in this period of existence? 🌎🌙🌟🌊 PS link in my bio to book your spot in any of my upcoming Crete #yoga retreats where, besides the yoga, food and hiking adventures, we focus on coming back to the basics of PURE LIVING 🌈 #quotes #inspirationalquotes #inspiration #qotd #books #ireland