POOLSIDE CHAT WITH SAM WOOD  

 
 
 

Don’t get me wrong. I love a pina colada poolside just as much as the next person (possibly more so, who’s judging?). But when I got the chance to talk holiday health and wellbeing with fitness guru Sam Wood, visiting us here in Port Douglas prior to the launch of his new 8-week challenge, it was definitely a conflicting moment.

Do I order sparkling water or sparkling wine? Is he going to put me through my paces in a hard-core HIIT challenge, or will there be cheese? These are the big questions that consumed me like a kid in a chocolate shop. Thankfully, I need not have worried – Sam was here on family holiday himself (with gorgeous wife Snez, daughters Evie and Willow, plus one on the way), and was more than happy to chat about holiday fitness and how to relax without packing on the pounds.

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We’ve all been on holidays with the best of intentions. What are the biggest challenges to staying healthy on holidays?

It’s not through lack of meaning well, people simply lose their routine and structure when on holidays. They’re out of comfort zones, and everything’s just a bit different. When away, the most important thing is to recreate a new routine with the time and environment available. I find the biggest issue, especially for those who are disciplined, is meal prep. Eating well goes out the window and we tend to make poor choices on the fly.

Surely Camembert cheese and Chardonnay are considered food groups, no?

Haha, yep, totally a staple…. However, food is such a huge part of a healthy routine. People don’t like asking for any menu modifications, and of course, portion control is always an issue on holiday. When buffets are involved, it’s a complete bust! And the big one, of course, is alcohol. I never make friends with that tip.

I have some practical guidelines around holiday eating – even though you’ve lost your structure, still try to have three quality meals a day. Don’t overindulge in the buffet - lose the mentality of getting value for money at the croissant station. If you’re drinking, that’s fine, but you’ve got to earn it first. Balance is everything. Absolutely enjoy the holiday, don’t feel restricted, but there’s no need to train for the Olympics while you’re meant to be recharging. Get SOME form of physical activity in early in the day. You wanna crack beers by the pool by 10am? You’d better be up at dawn.

 
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Who are the worst offenders?

Cruises! Buffet upon buffet upon buffet in a confined space with nowhere to exercise. People just stack the weight on like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

This is where your app comes in handy then, right?

Absolutely. It’s so empowering. We don’t get people specifically joining the group because they’re going on holiday, however we do often get the feedback on how useful and versatile it is when people do go away. We provide advice on swapping out food choices and tips on working out in your hotel room where all you need is your phone and an internet connection.

What makes this app different to the others?

We’ve had 150 000 people do the program in 3 years. 5000 people subscribed within three months, so we’re clearly providing something that people want. We provide different workouts every day that go for 28 minutes over the course of 28 days – the optimal time it takes to change a habit. There’s also a nutritional plan for each week that takes into consideration all dietary requirements, and people can swap and drop meals from over 3000 recipes.

Primarily though, there’s the support. We really seem to have this community that provides a lot of love for all other members, and I take none of the credit for that – that is entirely thanks to the members. I’m proud that it’s a place of acceptance and no judgement, we don’t compare ourselves to anyone else and simply encourage everyone to be the best version of themselves.

What are your top tips for activities while on holiday in Port Douglas?

Right! A number of things. Mainly, get it done first. Running along Four Mile beach is magical -  it’s beautiful at sunrise. A cracking start to the day. I’ve checked out the hotel gym here at the Sheraton, then there’s the snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding, walking through Mossman Gorge. Wherever you’re travelling, use your feet to see places. We’re such creatures of habit that every Saturday we do the same 4KM loop that we’ve done for years, which is better than nothing, but your body gets used to it.

Okay, so what’s harder – losing 20KG or 5KG?

Hahaha, good question…. Errrrmmmm… probably the last, stubborn 5kg! Most of our client base are mothers and busy women, so we hear this a lot. But, as we always say (especially to mums), you can’t pour from the empty cup. You need to take proper care of yourself before you can take care of others. And that seems to be a really hard one for mothers and women in general to really focus on.

If you aim to give the best version of yourself to the people you love, you’ll have more patience, more energy, more self-esteem. It’s hard to penetrate that message, but that’s where our community is just so powerful. They’ll talk about the moment the switch flipped – giving yourself just half an hour a day to focus on yourself is a total game changer.

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What’s something about health/training/nutrition you wish you’d known 10 years ago?

Quality over quantity – this goes for exercise and nutrition. It used to be how heavy, how far, how long. I thought more was always more, and I’ve learnt that’s not the case. Eat and work out smarter not harder. These days, I also have a lot more empathy and understanding for real life challenges. Aim high, but don’t be so hard on yourself. Sleep and mindfulness is vital – I cannot stress how important this is, and how many of us just let it go by the wayside. It absolutely sets you up for a better week.

Mostly, move because you love your body, not because you hate it. I love this one. We are often quick to recognise if we have an unhealthy relationship with food but not so much with exercise. I totally get that thought patterns are hard to kick but we need to stop exercising because we hate how we look or feel. Exercise because it makes you feel good, exercise for your body and your mind and exercise because you are so lucky that you can.