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Sally Fitzgibbons talks fitness, travel, and how to stay lean this holiday season

Published December 2nd, 2016

She’s the small-town Aussie chick, turned surfing world champion, who - at the tender age of 14 - became the youngest ever winner of the ASP Pro Junior event.

Fast forward a decade’s worth of multiple surfing championship titles under her belt and 25-year-old pro surfer, Sally Fitzgibbons, is still one of the most talented athletes competing for Australia on the international circuit.

The down-to-earth surfing prodigy chats to Student Flights about her travelling fitness secrets and reveals how she curbs holiday season overindulgence.


What has been your favourite destination to travel to?

One of my favourites was definitely a trip to Vanuatu. It’s such a beautiful spot in the world - there’s an amazing island vibe, the culture is really interesting and the people were so welcoming and fun to hang out with. Of course, wherever I go I love to have a surf, so handily there are some super-fun waves here and perfect swell. The holiday was after a busy year on the Women’s World Surf League, so it was the perfect place to relax and unwind.

How do you stay fit while travelling?

I live and breathe surfing, so I put my health, fitness and training first and foremost. I’ve been doing it from such a young age, that it’s now just a part of me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of just trying to better myself as an athlete, to go to that next level. Wherever I am in the world, my philosophy remains the same - just because I’m travelling it doesn’t mean I can’t exercise. I actually love the challenge of plugging into my surroundings to train and utilising whatever is there, whether it’s great swell, a trail run, or even a hotel gym. You just never know what you’re going to find; it’s super exciting.

What fitness essentials do you take with you?

I always travel with my runners, fit ball, foam roller, bag of resistance and Thera bands, skip rope, yoga mat, boxing gloves, goggles, balance discs, trigger balls and obviously surfboards! As you can tell, my luggage is mainly fitness-related. This is my travelling portable gym and it always comes on the road with me, so I can have a session wherever I might be. I’m able to fit tonnes of fitness gear in my board bags, which is awesome as it also doubles up as padding for my boards.




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What's your top travel fitness tip?

Make fitness a part of your daily ritual whilst travelling. Make sure you always pack training gear and some runners, so you’re ready for getting outdoors and weaving exercise into your sightseeing.

How do you beat jet lag?

Even though I travel a lot, I still find it really tough at times beat jet lag. I guess my main remedy is to stay hydrated, not only during the flight - I don’t drink alcohol, for example, as it’s dehydrating - but also when you land too. Drink way more water than you would on a regular day at home. I always try to adjust quickly into whatever time zone I’m in by waking when the sun comes up and using exercise as my regulator. I take short naps through the day, but make sure I set my alarm because long naps during the day usually make for a very restless night.

Adventure or luxury?

I love mixing it up. As a surfer I often travel to very off-the-beaten-path destinations, searching for the perfect wave. When I do that I usually take the bare minimum and there definitely aren’t 5-star hotels nearby! Saying that, it’s nice to treat yourself to a little luxury after long boat trips or desert adventures. I love stopping in a fancy hotel and recharging before heading back home.


 

A photo posted by Sally Fitzgibbons (@sally_fitz) on


What's your essential ingredient for a good holiday?

An open mind to try new things, positive energy and an adventurous spirit.

How do you curb excess during the holiday period?

I’m quite good at policing myself. You have to trust yourself to keep up with exercising and healthy eating habits, especially during this period. Draw the line on what qualifies as overindulging and try to restrain yourself, but don’t punish yourself either. It’s all about balance.

What's an ideal Christmas for you?

Being at home with my loved ones. Starting the day with a sunrise run and then going surfing with my family, sharing an awesome Chrissy feast and playing backyard cricket until the sun goes down. Happy days.


 

A photo posted by Sally Fitzgibbons (@sally_fitz) on



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paulewart

Originally from the UK, Paul has lived and worked in three different continents: from the heady metropolis of Dubai, to North America and - as of six years ago - Sydney, Australia, a place he now calls home. His travel career spans 13 years across various print and digital outlets. Until recently, he worked as a senior TV producer for Channel 7. Now, he's back doing what he does best: travelling.