If you’re a traveling coach, you probably have already learned it can be more tiring/hard on your body than being a full-time student/coach/performer in one location.
Maintaining good health while getting on and off planes, having an irregular training schedule, and being in new places where proper nutrition can be tricky all can add up and increase risk of illness/injury.
I’ve been extremely lucky* in that I have only gotten minor sniffles and a tickle in my throat during the past entire year of almost non-stop traveling and teaching. *I honestly think it isn’t entirely luck considering all the strategies I use to stay as healthy as possible.*
Here are some tidbits that might help make your body happier while being a traveling coach.
Note: Most of these tips also apply if you’re a traveling performer/student as well, although there are somewhat different demands for being a traveling coach versus a traveling performer or student.
- Continuity of health-care
- Request write-ups from every single practitioner you see. Get CDs/DVDs and medical records in advance so that when you need them, you have them. You literally never know when this will come in handy.
- Ask previous providers that you respect (especially if they have worked with circus humans previously) who they recommend in the areas you are traveling to. Use the FOAAMPT “Find a fellow” function. These are generally the most qualified PTs in an area (at least those that are useful for circus humans).
- Know the healthcare costs if teaching internationally and how to be seen in that respective healthcare system. If you don’t know (and Google isn’t helpful), reach out to your host – probably they know better than you (but again, try to figure it out first on your own!).
- Know your airlines/mode of travel
- Some airlines are better than others:
- Southwest – two free checked bags is nice for carrying gear as opposed to some that are charging carry-on bag fees these days.
- Tiny chairs with minimal leg room will add up.
- Layovers can actually be a good thing – getting time to stretch/move in between flights is useful if it is a longer trip. Who cares if you’re the weirdo at the gate?
- Some airlines are better than others:
- Portable self-care tools – (Jen Crane/CirquePhysio has loads of great resources about this, but these are some other suggestions)
- Collapsable foam roller – I do not get paid for advertising, but this is a nice product for a traveling athlete.
- Lacrosse ball/peanut – I don’t need to tell you why these are useful for portable self-care….unless you happen to have a pocket massage therapist.
- Therabands and bungees – for prehab/strengthening/movement prep work.
- You can always find something to pin these down (and it is so nice to take time for yourself and just do some prehab/movement prep work).
- Snacks! Enough said.
- Handstand block(s) – can serve as a hard yoga block (just wrap it in clothing to cushion) and…a handstand block.
- Supplements – some of these are placebo, but that’s neither here nor there.
- Emergency C, Sleeping Calm, Melatonin, Zinc to name a few.
- Neck pillow for long car/plane rides
- Portable TENs unit – my understanding of TENs units is that they can alleviate pain symptoms, but don’t treat the root cause of the pain (and I’m saying this with the caveat that some pain is neurological and that’s not something I’m going to even try to unpack here)
- Sweatpants/comfy clothes – style isn’t worth sacrificing comfort….and then maybe you’ll be more likely to sleep if you’re comfy!
- Heating/Cooling pad – I don’t bring these with me, but again, if it works for you, go for it!
- Snacks – yeah, I said it twice. Because proper nutrition is important and we all fail at it sometimes.
- Eat well.
- Again, drinking alcohol and eating sugar make your muscles recover more poorly, worsen your immune response, and also getting appropriate levels of macronutrients will improve energy levels and muscle recovery.
- Sleep more than you think you need to.
- Sleep is one thing you can’t make up over time, and sleep deficit/debt worsen muscular recovery and immune response.
- Stretch more than you think you should.
- Every time you sit down on a plane/train/bus, that adds to how much extra you could be prioritizing flexibility/mobility.
- Downtime/you time
- Figure out where you can go near the studio/near where you are staying to have time to yourself (hopefully more than just your room).
- If you’re traveling constantly, you will have snippets of time to yourself here and there anyway (waiting for your flight/bus/walking 4 miles to wherever your bed is that night), but sometimes that isn’t enough. A lot of times, workshop hosts can graciously try to entertain traveling instructors more than they actually need. Granted this is more true for people tending towards the introvert end of the spectrum (like me), but probably some extroverts feel similarly on occasion. You’re allowed to say no to a night out partying and take a bubble bath (or whatever floats your boat for recharging yourself socially, since your job is social).
- Scheduling time for yourself will actually keep you healthier. Just as spending time with friends (new or old) is good for you as a human, so is having time for yourself (to plan future workshops, reflect on your recent workshops, breath, read a book, watch Netflix in another language)…
- Take walks!
- Get a Travel Buddy!
- Having a friend join me for a teaching tour, who is an instructor I trust to have quality teaching technique and safety technique, and one who is comfortable in silence makes teaching tours 100% more fun. It always helps to have an adventuring companion when the car runs out of gas 100ft off the highway, and 100ft from the gas station (this has definitely never happened to me, nope).
- Find and maintain a routine for yourself/your sanity (thanks Julianna!)
- This isn’t one that I personally do, but I know some folks really benefit from having a routine that stays constant in their life as the rest of it is full of changes/externla stimuli and is requiring of adaptability/flexibility.
- As training should be periodized (with macro/mesocycles and de-load weeks), giving yourself de-load weeks from teaching/traveling isn’t the worst thing in the world.
- In other words, take breaks between trips or at least between teaching sections.
There are tons of different things you can do for yourself as a traveling circus human, but these are some suggestions I’ve compiled. If you have other thoughts or ideas, please reach out and let me know!