Sally Fitzgibbons’ Top Health and Fitness Travel Tips


Pro-surfer Sally Fitzgibbons doesn’t let her peripatetic life affect her workout regimen. She let us in on the best exercise tips for when you’re on the move.

Pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons is, as her generation might say, pure #fitspo – at 25, she boasts glowing skin, taut muscles and an Instagram feed full of gym selfies and surfing action shots. Fitzgibbons radiates an all-Australian surfer-girl vigour and has released a book (Live Like Sally), and fitness program called (Train Like Sally), so the rest of us can get a bit of that action.

As a professional athlete and wellness ambassador for Novotel’s InBalance gyms, Fitzgibbons is always on the move. So, she’s devised a flexible fitness routine for when she’s away from her home on the New South Wales South Coast. Now she lets us in on those fitness secrets.

SEE ALSO: Learn to Surf on the Gold Coast

How would you describe your exercise routine?

“I have to be really flexible with the lifestyle I lead. It’s a fast-paced life, and I take my training and adapt it to the surrounds. It’s a mixture of land-based training with my cardio being running, biking, swimming, skipping and boxing. Then I complement that with my strength work in the gym. The strength I build there translates to how much power I can use on a wave. It’s all balanced with the time I spend on my board in the ocean.”

How do you stay fit and active while travelling?

“Although there are long hours of travel being on the Women’s World Surf League, I make sure I’m still conscious of my fitness in the air, in hotels and on the ground in a new country. On the plane I will make sure I regularly walk and practice stretch routines. In hotels I adapt to their gyms and facilities and use running as my means of sightseeing. Being away from the water doesn’t mean activity stops – I don’t see exercise as a chore, it’s my daily ritual no matter where I am.”

What’s your routine on the plane?

I drink at least three litres of water throughout the flight and I’ll ask the flight attendants for fresh fruit if it’s available. After each movie or nap I’ll stretch. There’s limited space on the plane, but finding a spot, like the corner pocket of the plane near the bathrooms, should be enough space. The focus for me is opening my hip flexors, which tighten from sitting down for so long. I lunge back with one leg and reach for the sky with my arms while opening the front of the hip. Then I like to go into a half-squat, place one hand on the ground between my legs, the other above reaching for the roof, and rotate through my lower back and thoracic. These are all the sitting muscles that are locked in place from a long-haul flight. Calf raises, both double-leg and single-leg, are great to get the blood flowing as well.” 

What if I can’t find any space?

“If you’re in your chair, use the simple length stretch: interlace your fingers above your head and reach up as you stand onto your tippy toes. Or, standing on one leg while holding the seat in front (without disturbing your fellow passenger), place the other leg onto your seat so that the top of your foot is against the back of the chair. Breathe deeper into the stretch through your hip flexors and quads and alternate.

What’s the first thing you do when you land?

“Before anything else, I put my joggers on. I want to get all those fluids inside my body moving again. Running for me is also a way of sightseeing. If I’m somewhere landlocked I create a safe route around the city and get my bearings and check out all the cool parts. If I’m coastal I’ll use it to check the waves, check the location where I’m surfing and get a feel of the culture, people and place.” 

What’s your routine in a hotel gym?

“My go-to routine when I land in another country is a multi-cardio set. This includes intervals on the treadmill, the rower, the spin bike or elliptical – whatever is available – and it’s focused on building effort gradually. This gets the blood flowing, awakens the body after a long flight and helps to kick the jetlag quickly. I’ll do five minutes on treadmill (alternate between one minute steady effort, one minute three-quarter effort). Then jump on the spin bike and repeat. Jump on the rower and do 30 seconds fast; 30 seconds easy for five minutes. Repeat that twice through. I always follow by stretching on a fitball: back bends, side bends, glute-stretch and planking; 30 seconds for each movement and repeat twice.”

What are three things you won’t travel without?

“A fit ball, a pair of runners and a surfboard.”

How do you exercise when you’re jetlagged?

“I use my exercise to reset my body clock. At times I may be a little sleepy but if my body is fatigued I need to be smart about what form of exercise I use. If you’re near a beach, I would suggest a session split between a brisk walk, a jog and a wade into the water up to your waist – use the resistance of the water for a low-impact session. Keep rotating through the movements.” 

What are your favourite in-room exercises?

“All the planking variations for core stabilisation, lunges to extend hip flexors after hours of sitting while travelling, and glute bridges to activate those muscles patterns again and get your glutes firing. The glute bridge begins with shoulders on the ground, feet anchored. Make a straight line from knees to shoulders, while your hands remain on the floor. Squeeze glutes as you raise hips to the roof.”

What’s the most memorable place you have ever travelled to?

“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some incredible places in the world. I can’t pick one favourite, but Fiji is one location I look forward to every year. The shallow reef breaks and powerful waves push me out of my comfort zone. But then you return to the islands to recover and it’s absolutely paradise – bliss! Plus, the locals on land are some of the most welcoming and hospitable in the world.”

Sally Fitzgibbons will appear at the 2016 Fitness and Health Expo in Perth (20th-21st August) and Brisbane (22nd-23rd October).

By Kate Phillips and Alex Greig

SEE ALSO: How to Track Your Fitness Wherever You Are


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