Ask a Pro: MMA star Ramona Pascual on how to stay fit on holiday

Does anyone actually enjoy the gym or is it one of those things the modern world has convinced us we need in order to survive? And do we need to keep going to the gym to stay fit on holiday or does paddling across the pool to reach the bar count?

To discover the answers to keeping fit on holiday we turned to one of the most intense (fitness-wise) people we know – Hong Kong-based Mixed Martial Arts star Ramona Pascual, the winner of double gold at the 2015 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships, and two titles at Asia’s 2018 Master International Championships.

Read on to discover her fitness and dietary routine, how she stays in fighting shape when she’s away from her training camp, and her tips for the rest of us.

Photo courtesy of Ramona Pascual

How did you get started in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

I played a lot of sports growing up. I started Muay Thai in high school and really enjoyed it, but I didn’t get into competing until after college. I began training Brazilian jiu-jitsu at 24, then took up MMA at 27.

What does your typical exercise regimen look like?

I have wrestling training three times a week, jiujitsu three times a week, and MMA 3 times a week. Additionally, I’ll do either Muay Thai or strength & conditioning twice a week. That’s ultimately two sessions a day from Monday to Friday and then one on Saturday.

What about your nutritional regimen?

I generally stick to whole, unprocessed foods as much as I can. When I’m out of fight camp, I eat pretty clean from Monday until Saturday. Sundays are a bit more relaxed; I’ll get to enjoy a couple of meals at that time to satisfy any cravings.

When I’m in camp things are more strict, and I limit the kinds and quantities of foods I eat to optimise energy for training and boost fat loss.

Read also: Where to Achieve Max Levels of Wellness

Even top fighters need rest days, but do you ever take rest weeks? If so, how do you find that affects your performance?

I will never take long periods off unless I’m injured. I will, however, program a deload week if I’m feeling excessively run down and notice my performance start to drop. This means just one session or two light sessions a day without pushing to full effort.

Taking this time helps reset and stabilise my adrenals and central nervous system so I can recover better for the following week.

Training wise, what do you do to stay in fighting form while on holiday?

When I’m not in camp, however, I’ll try to find a local jiujitsu gym to take a class or do a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) strength circuit.

Photo courtesy of Ramona Pascual

How do you feel a holiday affects your eating habits? Do you let yourself break routine?

I don’t try to limit myself too much on holiday because the point is to enjoy myself and if I’m on a diet that would defeat the purpose. I’ll generally try to fast until lunch then have something light and save the big meal for dinner. I try to stay away from buffets because it’s a slippery slope.

Do you feel any guilt about taking time off from training? If so, what keeps your head clear so that you can be present in your holiday?

Yes, I do! I try to do something active at least once a day and walk as much as I can. My body doesn’t respond well to lack of activity, and I tend to get agitated and lethargic in that state so I’ll squeeze in a workout somehow to get the endorphins going.

Read also: Swim Fashion: Dervla Louli Musgrave of Compare Retreats on 2019 Wellness trends

Giving a TED Talk. Photo courtesy of Ramona Pascual

What are your top tips for others who want to stay fit and active while travelling?

Take walks as much as you can. It’s a physical activity with minimal stress while enjoying your new surroundings. Taking a 20-30 min HIIT workout is a great way to get a workout in and save time. It means you’re not sacrificing too much. It will also make you feel great and more energised to enjoy the rest of the day.

You seem to train a lot in Phuket. What do you love about being there?

The weather, the low cost, the healthy food options, the environment, and most of all the people I train with! They come from different backgrounds but share a similar mindset to achieving their goals. The like-minded mentality helps us all progress very quickly.

Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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