I was excited to sit down with Aaron Kapahe’e Medeiros - athlete, avid traveler, nature lover and overall awesome human to hear more about how he and his equally shredded and gorgeous fiancé Juliana Salles stay fit and active while on the road while the majority of us comes back from vacay with love handles. Or is that just me?
Aaron has Hawaiian and Portuguese roots but grew up locally, meaning LA’s South Bay were I (Kirstin) have also pitched my tent for the past nine years.
As a top-tier trainer he is responsible for whipping me, and many others, into shape in his intense yet fun kickboxing classes. Once we realized we shared a passion for fitness AND travel, it was time to sit down and talk adventure.
Ana and I often complain that our workout routines completely fall to the wayside when we travel. How to you manage to stay active while you’re away?
I stay active mostly because the activities I chose involve physical exercise. The itineraries I put together often include hikes, swimming, cliff diving, kayaking, etc.
I like to work out when I’m not traveling in order to prepare for whatever challenge I might face on a trip. Whether it’s a demanding hike or crazy white-water rafting, I can handle the challenge and myself because I’m physically ready to do whatever the activity calls for.
Would we find you in a hotel gym or is that not your cup of tea?
You might occasionally find me in a hotel gym, yes. But I would much rather be active outside, especially when I’m on a trip.
Agreed 100%. Could you share any work-out tips with us that you can easily do while on vacation?
Absolutely! Bring a yoga mat for one. Even if you don’t work out, you can still use it as a mat for stretching after a long flight or on a road trip or for meditation.
But if you want to get some movement in while traveling, I recommend taking 20 minutes in the morning to kickstart your day. You may be tired as you start out but after 20 minutes of movement you will feel more energized and your mind will be ready to take on the day with more focus.
You can opt for yoga or a run or even create a little circuit of 10 pushups, 10 burpies and 10 squats followed by a 30 second break, until you get a good sweat on.
This is all you need to do to get your body moving and your mind alert. It does take discipline and if a circuit simply isn’t your thing, find ways to include activities in your trips that keep your body moving.
Have you have always been avid traveler? What is the most memorable trip of the last 3 years for you?
I have unknowingly been an avid traveler my whole life. When I was 7 years old I joined an ice-hockey team that played in all 50 states. So between 7 and 21 I ended up exploring most of the United States and Canada.
During these trips the main goal was to train and compete wherever we were and I was taken out off school for weeks at a time, but there was always an opportunity to explore the location we were in.
This is what got me into traveling and fitness and taught me discipline at a very young age. That mindset obviously carried over into my adult life.
As for my favorite trip of the past 3 years, it would be my time in Havasu (means “blue-green water) Falls, an oasis in the Grand Canyon. I like to call it Heaven on Earth. It is a 10 mile hike in, all downhill.
Once down there you can explore miles of hiking trails, the main waterfall and about 10 smaller ones as well as 50-70 foot cliff jumps. In the middle of the Grand Canyon it’s this lush and green oasis that reminded me of Jurassic Park.
Sounds like an amazing discovery. Do you have to hike in everything you want to have with you? What is it like staying at the Falls?
You actually have a few different options. One, you can helicopter in. The lazy peeps catch a lift and fly straight into the village for around $90 from and from there it’s only a 2 mile hike to the waterfalls. The village or Indian reservation is called Supai where the Native American tribe, the Havasupai People, live.
The tribe takes care of the whole oasis and run everything as it’s on their land. They can arrange a helicopter ride, if that’s what you want to do. They take care of your reservation, show you around and share about their heritage for those interested.
If you don’t want to hike the whole way, but helicopter also feels like overkill you can travel into the canyon by mule. They carry your bags down, which allows you to bring more stuff with you for a more comfortable stay. That way it’s an easy breezy walk in as the mules do the real work.
But the 10 mile hike out is a bit of a challenge regardless, with or without mules. It can get very hot and you might battle a bit to make your way out off the canyon. (Trivia side note: Supai is the only place in the US where mail is still carried out by mules).
You can either camp or book a room in a small hotel in one of the Mexican style pueblos. I was there for three days and it was definitely my favorite trip of the last few years.
But three days were almost too short and I could have stayed longer. You definitely need to put it on your bucket list.
Clearly being outdoors is a travel priority of yours. What is it about being out in nature and getting out off the city that inspires you?
You know, when I’m in nature it just feels right. We all have this preconceived notion of having to live life a certain way. The 9-5 job, the car, the sleep schedule, etc. But we don’t have to necessarily do any of that. Instead I believe we should live and experience this world as much as we can and I don’t think enough people get outdoors and enjoy what our planet has to offer.
We enjoy and are often quite caught up with materialist things and forget to just appreciate the simple things in life. Being outdoors is a spiritual experience for me.
It is grounding and allows me to disconnect from society, even if only for a moment. Being present in nature and in the moment is so important.
Out there we can feel the silence of nature and truly unplug from the world. It is calming and a powerful connection to Mother Earth. Spirituality isn’t something I can access all the time, but I’m working on it and being out in nature definitely helps me with it.
Waking up when the sun hits my face, smelling the crisp fresh air is such a magical moment and helps me being more mindful.
Discipline comes with your mind, body and soul. I believe you discipline your body by staying healthy and active.
You train your mind by questioning your thoughts and actions and your soul by disconnecting from society and learning to appreciate nature. That’s how I keep a healthy balance of mind, body and soul.
Do you try to unplug from technology as well while you travel? Is that part of “disconnecting from society”?
Yes, definitely. I don’t touch the phone for the first few hours of the day. But I do like to inspire others to travel and so I take pictures and videos as I experience different destinations. Usually I give myself an hour or so towards the end of that day to then connect with the world and share some of my experiences.
I love to idea of inspiring people and if I manage to get just one person to go on a trip I’m already happy. My two main focuses for my Instagram are to inspire people to travel more and live a healthy lifestyle.
Health and travel can be for everyone and even people who don’t work out or don’t usually get out off their comfort zones can learn to enjoy and appreciate it once they’re introduced to it and overcome their inner resistance.
I know a lot of people who initially hated camping, the bugs, not having a bed. But eventually almost all of them started to enjoy the silence of nature and appreciate the experience.
*Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Aaron in which he tells us all about a perfect 3 Days* trip to Zion, Utah!