Word Count: 580 | Time to Read: 4 minutes
For the next six weeks I will be doing public health work in central Peru in a small village five hours north of the city of Ayacucho.
A team of local medical professionals there have proposed a project that would educate families on how to provide ample childhood nutrition given available food resources. The NGO for which I’ll be working as a volunteer, Primary Cares, Inc., has tasked me with finding a nutritionist who can work with the team on creating sustainable educational materials for families to use as well as a graphic designer who will create posters and pamphlets.
I’m in the process of making a travel vlog in which I touch on the ‘white savior’ mentality that pervades otherwise well-intentioned work in developing nations, so I’ll save the diatribe for then. One point I want to emphasize now, though, is that this project will be created by Peruvians from start to finish.
Although I’ll be working with the local team to ensure the education level of the materials is appropriate for the region and that they can be used to conduct seminars and lectures in the future, I will in no way be dictating the content of such materials or overseeing every minute step. I am merely there as a facilitator and keeper of funds.
While I’m in Peru, I also plan to take advantage of the vibrant natural beauty and varying degrees of altitude by going on what I hope to be daily trail runs.
Although I will be traveling lightly– my first aid kit fully takes up 1/3 of my luggage’s weight– one book that will be an absolute godsend is “You Are Your Own Gym.” It focuses on the wonderful world of bodyweight training, which is the only kind of exercise I’ll get to do in Peru besides running.
San José de Secce, the small village where I’ll be living for most of my time in Peru, is located nearly 11,000 feet above sea level (roughly 3300 meters). Within ten days of my arrival, my kidneys will begin producing more erythropoietin (EPO), the hormone that stimulates the creation of red blood cells.
The result? More oxygen in my bloodstream such that when I return to suburban Michigan, situated at a measly 700 feet above sea level (200 meters), my running will appear even more effortless. The 10K I’m planning on participating in a week after I come home, aptly named “Run for the Hills”, will be a piece of cake.
But I digress.
“You Are Your Own Gym,” outlines over 100 bodyweight movements that target nearly every muscle group. In addition to my running regimen, I will be focus mainly on upper body and core-strengthening exercises. To save time and still obtain that oft-coveted burn, I’ll be exercising mainly through the use of tabatas, which I discuss more here.
The wonderful thing about tabatas is how quickly a serious workout can be completed. All I’ll need while I’m in Peru is a space that is six by six feet and sixteen minutes of free time.
A few of the tabatas that I’ll be using include,
Upper Body 1
- Wide push-ups
- Tricep dips
- Military push-ups
Upper Body 2
- Diamond push-ups
- Tricep dips
- Spiderman crunches
- Side plank
- Ab bicycles
- Leg lifts
- Mountain climbers
Though I’ll face many challenges over the next two months, I am extremely excited for the opportunity to improve the health of children in the Santillana district of Ayacucho and ameliorate the suffering of other human beings.