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The Digital Nomad Triangle From Hell

I left Sweden over two years ago and have since changed country of residence five times. Being a freelance web developer I can be almost completely location independent and I mean to take full advantage of this privilege.

Being a digital nomad is not without its drawbacks however.

Have you heard of the project manager triangle? Basically it breaks projects down into three aspects: time, quality, and price. As a project manager you only get to choose two of them.

Either you opt for a fast and cheap project, but then you’ll have to budge on quality. Or you choose to have it well made and fast, but then it’ll cost you.

Our triangle

This can be applied to us digital nomads as well. I present the Digital Nomad Triangle From Hell (DNTFH):

You can have money, friends, or health. Pick any two.

We have a finite amount of time. Making money, meeting friends, and keeping/getting in shape all takes a huge bite out of your days. You’ll rarely be able to do all of them.

Either you buckle down, work hard, and meet people in the evenings. Or you hit the gym early in the morning but then have to spend most of the evening doing work.

Luckily, I’ve found a solution that’s worked wonders for me.

Two birds

My chosen form of working out is CrossFit. Thus I train at a box (lingo for a CrossFit gym), where the atmosphere is very different from a normal gym. People stop and talk with each other, we compare results, exchange healthy recipes, etc, etc.

It’s both a gym and a community. That means that when I go and lift weights I also go to see my friends. Two birds, one stone!

I’ll let you worry about the money part of the triangle and instead I’ll show you how you can tackle the other two in one fell swoop.

Step one – find a group

Of course you’re not forced to do CrossFit if you don’t want to (though I’d recommend it). Here are some other suggestions:

  • Look at Meetup.com for fitness groups to join.
  • Search for a marathon training group, where you can meet weekly with people who can teach you proper cadence and running economics.
  • Download the Freeletics app and find a local team to do bodyweight exercise together with.If there’s at least a semi-popular beach or outdoor gym, go there a couple of times per week and see if there are any regulars.
  • Join a casual sports team. Football, rugby, volleyball, or the local variety here in Barcelona – Castell.
  • Check if there’s an athletic club nearby. Perhaps a weightlifting or powerlifting one – they both tend to have very dedicated members and often love welcoming newcomers.
  • If you’re not big on playing in a team but still want the camaraderie of a team, I can’t recommend enough to try a martial art. My personal favorite is MMA, muay thai, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but there are usually many, many styles to choose from.

Make sure that your group is meeting frequently and consistently, or you’ll have a much harder time both keeping fit and making friends.

Step two – get involved

Once you’ve found a group you like, the next step is to join in and become a contributing member.

See if they have a Facebook group. Nowadays, most do and often they coordinate events through it too. Join the group and be active!

Don’t shy away from meeting outside the training. Participate in planned events, nights out, and feel free to initiate something yourself, with the group or select members. Even gym rats enjoy the occasional beer or two.

Watch and learn from the experienced members, and then teach and welcome newer ones. No matter the group, its members are all responsible for creating its culture and atmosphere.

Also, don’t be afraid to shop around. If you’re not entirely happy with your experience, just go back to step one and find a new group!

PS. I’d like to give a huge shoutout to Gonzalo in Buenos Aires, Liz in Edinburgh, Jorge in Madrid, Sam in St. Andrews, and Wull in Murrayfield!

About the Author

Tobias Sjösten is the owner of Athlegan.com – an online resource for vegan fitness and strength. Tobias helps beginners get started with and improve both their training and diet. His mission is to show that there’s nothing preventing you from living a more ethical, healthy, and environmentally sound life.


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