7 Fitness Adventures to Add to Your Bucket List

Getting Away From the Day-to-Day Workout

Danielle Press

When you're at home you probably fall into certain routines. These routines - the meals you eat, the exercise regimen you follow and even how you brush your teeth - don't vary much from day to day and may leave you feeling sluggish and mundane.

You can escape these monotonous routines when you travel - when you explore and open yourself to new experiences - even going as far as to accomplish "bucket list" items that push your boundaries as you create memories to last a lifetime.

When bucket list goals are physical, they can make your day-to-day workout routine feel more enjoyable - they give you a reason to hit the gym and develop the strength and stamina needed to follow through on the thrill of climbing a mountain or catching a wave. There are few things that bring the level of joy associated with checking things off your bucket list. If you haven't started a list of your own, consider adding a few of these adventures - I've tried them, and I'm convinced you should, too.


Jeff Crease

For some people, a white, snowy vacation may yield nothing more than dreams of hot cocktails, hot tubs, and warm, cozy cottages. However, one of the best ways to heat up during cold winter days is not with a warm drink, but with an outdoor activity.

Snowboarding is exhilarating, terrifying and packed full of physical benefits that will leave you flushed and sweating. The work put into snowboarding starts the second you pick up the board. Walking through the snow, holding your snowboard, climbing in elevation with each step, all get your heart pumping, but the cardiovascular benefits only start there.

The second you clip into your board, you're putting yourself through a full body workout. Snowboarding requires you to engage muscles you may not even be aware of - the muscles in your ankles and feet help steer the board, your calves, quads and hamstrings remain engaged for the entire ride as you lower yourself into a squat position to maintain balance and a low center of gravity. I've gone down hills before with my legs shaking as I near the bottom, only to find momentary relief before heading up the mountain (or even the bunny slope) again for another run.

Your core also gets a great workout as you use it to maintain balance as you move your body back and forth to change direction or position. The satisfaction you find after completing your first full run, or even after completing your 100th run, will leave you flushed, ecstatic, and wonderfully worked. 

If you don't have snow in your sights, consider sandboarding instead.


Danielle Press

Don’t let the weightlessness water fool you. Diving and swimming are incredible full body workouts. There's something magical about staying underwater for an extended period of time - it's almost spiritual and other-worldly to glide next to a sea turtle, float past a school of fish or breath in sync with a shark.

The mental benefits are only heightened by the accompanying physical benefits. From the moment you begin preparing for a dive your body is put in motion - your arms strain as you try opening the tightly closed air valves of your tank. Lifting and moving your tank requires your whole body, especially as you balance on a rocking boat. Your arms, core and legs all work together as you prepare for the descent.

Once you're submerged in the blue, your body works with your breath to maintain buoyancy. You work against, and in unison with the current as you explore parts of the earth most people never get to see. Once the dive is over, you must again gather your strength to pull yourself back onto the boat, readjusting your body as you move into a world governed by gravity.

Adventure Caving, Bouldering and Rock Climbing

Adventure Caving
Jeff Crease

Caving, bouldering and rock climbing aren't for the faint of heart. Not only do these experiences get your heart racing from their physical exertion, but they pump up your adrenaline as well.

Whether you're rock climbing on the world-renowned cliffs of Railay Beach, Thailand, jumping from boulder to boulder on the beaches of Phu Quoc, Vietnam or rappelling into a cavernous abyss at Mulu National Park in Borneo, the physical and mental rush are unparalleled.  Also full-body workouts, these activities require strength in your arms, back, shoulders, forearms and even your fingers and toes. Your arms strain as you pull yourself up a rock face or lower yourself onto flat ground. Your core works to maintain equilibrium as you teeter on precarious rocks. Your quads, glutes and hamstrings burn as you push off ledges or jump from one spot to another.

And when you reach your destination? The blackness of a deep cave, or the expansive view on a cliff's edge will wash over you, reminding you what it means to feel alive. 

Deep Water Soloing

Deep Water Soloing
Danielle Press

Like rock climbing, deep water soloing takes "active adventure" to the next level. First, imagine yourself in the crystal clear water surrounding Thailand. Huge limestone formations jut out of the deep blue, a single rope dangling off its lowest point. Your job isn't to stare with your mouth agape at the shear beauty and magnitude of it all, but to jump off the boat, swim to the rope, pull yourself out of the water onto the rock's edge, and climb.

Climb as high or as far as you wish, unattached - no ropes to catch you if you fall, no safety net to calm your mind - knowing only that at some point the only thing left to do is jump. If your body isn’t left shaking and buzzing from the adrenaline, it will be from your exhausted muscles.

Your upper body, including your biceps, forearms and back, will be put to the test - and that's just from pulling yourself out of the water. Once you manage to climb the rope and find your footing on a small rock face, your climb (whether vertical or horizontal) begins. Your wet fingers must muster their strength to grip the rock, your forearms burn from the tension, your core tightens as you try to keep your body as stable, balanced and flush against the rock as possible. Every part of your legs work to push you higher or farther than the previous step.

And when you feel as though you can’t take another step, there's only one thing left to do. Jump. Just remember, the higher you go, the longer you fall!


Jeff Crease

As wakeboarding grows in popularity, so do the opportunities to try it all over the world. From South Korea to Taiwan, the Philippines to Canada, Portugal to Mexico, Wake-cable parks and wakeboarding clubs are popping up everywhere. Whether taking a leisurely run as a beginner, or embracing your inner daredevil as you perform explosive jumps and tricks, wakeboarding is yet another bucket-list activity that puts the whole body to work.

When the boat starts up and pulls you forward, your body must immediately stabilize as you sink into your legs, engaging your quads and hamstrings to stand up on the board. Your arms must work to hold on, your forearms straining as your core keeps your centered. Holding this position require endurance - your muscles will start burning as the lactic acid builds.

Explosive jumps require greater core engagement as you draw your legs and board up out of the water, flipping and turning over itself. Even as a beginner, I can guarantee you'll feel sore in places you didn't even know you were working - you'll be left panting from exhaustion and adrenaline, itching for the next run!

Not ready for wakeboarding? Ease into water sports with stand up paddleboarding.

Hiking a Volcano

Hiking a Volcano
Danielle Press

The alarm goes off at 1:30am as the stars shine over head. As you sleepily pile yourself into a truck, you're taken through dark streets until you reach the base of a dormant volcano.  Headlamps turned on, flashlights at the ready, you start an ascent cloaked in darkness, only able to see each immediate step you take.

As your body and mind start to wake up, you find your breath increasingly labored with each step. Your core is engaged and tight as you try not to lose your footing on loose rock or steep ascents. Gradually, dim light starts shining through as you climb higher and higher. Just as you reach the top, as you feel you can’t take another step, the sun peeks over the mountain tops and out of the clouds. Your breathing calms with the sunrise and you start to remember where you are. You're not just on top of a mountain, you're on top of a dormant volcano. You can see the darkened earth that was scorched by lava during the last eruption.

A hike like this can be done in a day or over the course of a few days, but it should be on every person's bucket list. Not only do you finish a grueling workout before the sun rises, but you feel invincible as you sit among the clouds and reflect on the power beneath you. 

The Unknown Adventure

Monkey Mountain
Jeff Crease

Traveling is about discovery. You discover new foods, new scenes, new people and new things about yourself. You may also discover new activities you never knew you wanted on your bucket list. While travel guides are amazing, sometimes the best spots aren't the tourist traps, but the places you hear about from talking to the locals.

Three years ago, while backpacking through Southeast Asia, I made a stop in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. After a beautiful mountain hike, passing hundreds of local residents (the macaque monkeys), and overlooking the city below, I came across a pagoda that offered tea and water, free of charge to anyone who wanted. This act of giving is continued by people who volunteer to climb the mountain carrying gallons of water on their backs. These water jugs can be filled as much or as little as the volunteer desires. While I didn't have time to do volunteer on that trip, it never left my mind and it remained on my list of things to do.

Fast forward to present day. I'm currently living in Kaohsiung, and as such, I've finally been able to check this off my travel bucket list. Hiking up a mountain in its own right is an exhausting and amazing workout, but with the added weight of gallons of water, the burn starts within the first steps up the mountain.

With sweat dripping down your face and the constant encouragement and looks of gratitude from the locals you pass, your final steps to the top are more gratifying than written word can begin to express.

Sometimes the things you want to do aren’t the most adventurous or talked about. They may not be found in books or travel blogs, but they push your whole being, and in them, you find growth. 

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