Moving continents with a family: plan for maintaining fitness and sanity

In about a 4–6 weeks I will be moving from Japan to Austria with my family of four (2 + 2). I would like a plan on how to deal with that fitness-wise. This isn’t my first rodeo, but it is the first time I move abroad with kids, and I know from experience that our stress levels at home can spike off the charts. There is a metric boat load of things to do in short time, and a lot of things are of high consequence. Continuing training would mean increasing stress further, and I don’t think it is wise to force myself into a straightjacket of a rigid training plan. Plus, getting to bed early is hard as I have tons to talk about with my wife after our kids are in bed.

I have a few constraints:

  • I will have to ship my trainer separately, and it might be a few weeks or months until I have access again. (Selling it would cost us money, my new employer only pays for actual moving costs, but I cannot use the budget I have to buy new/used things.)
  • I have just gotten sick, because our youngest shared his middle ear infection with my wife and I. He was oozing bacteria out of every orifice in his head.
  • I have a road bike with a power meter and a mountain bike without a power meter. The plan is to bring both bikes with us on the plane, so I would have some way to train with power. But given that I have no idea what my new schedule will be like at my new job, I cannot make any plans.

Ideally, I’d like to maintain some level of fitness, but I am not super worried, lost fitness can be regained, I do this every year. Still, I’d like to go in with a plan rather than just winging it.

Should I just switch to free rides when I am healthy again, enjoy the Japanese scenery one last time? Is there a way to maintain some level of fitness when I arrive at my new home? I’d likely have a lot more opportunities to ride offroad in Austria (yay!). Just to be clear, I am ok losing some fitness, but I would like to keep some routine and have cycling be a form of stress relief. Did any of you go through something similar? How did you handle it? Any advice?

First of all, not sure where in Austria you’re moving to but if it’s anywhere near the Alps you’ll be soon riding on fantastic roads, it’s literally heaven for road and off-road alike.

If I were you, I’d sell a trainer in Japan and just get a new or used one in Austria. Or get a cheap dumb trainer for the period your container is in transit.

I’ve gone through an upheaval in my life few years back with moving back and forth between Netherlands and California and I can’t stress enough how stupid I was trying to maintain the training schedule no matter what. It worked until it didn’t and I’m still trying to claw back to my old fitness - you’re absolutely right thinking that all the additional stuff going on in your life will have a cumulative effect on your fatigue.

Just enjoy Japan for now and you have lots to look forward to in Austria. Dial back on volume and intensity and just put training a bit lower on your priority list but keep riding. Not sure about you but that’s about one thing that kept me sane. Good to keep the structure of sorts but don’t sweat if you miss a few days here and there, it’s better than trying to wrap your life around training. Being there for your wife and kids is infinitely more important than 30 watts you may or may not lose temporarily.


Thanks for your input.

I’d be in Upper Austria, about 20 km south of Passau. I have lived in Munich for about 15 years and had a girlfriend back in the uni days who studied in Passau. So I know I can have fantastic adventures on bikes, on and offroad. I guess I will have to explore. And I am lucky to have both options.

I was thinking about getting a dumb trainer. I’ll probably take my Elite XDR hub, because that’s compatible with older Elite dumb trainers. I’ve spent years on an Elite Volano and was very happy with it.

I’m still considering just selling the trainer just so that we have one less thing to worry about.

One option I am considering is to just explore the countryside on both of my bikes at first. That’d really help me get acclimatized. I have to say, I lucked out with this job. They gave me the option of living in a brand new apartment building on ground floor or in an older house where the garage is about as large as our entire apartment here in Japan.

Yeah, and honestly, making sure that my wife and kids are happy (especially my wife) will be super crucial. I should really keep an eye out. Basically, our roles will reverse: I’m currently the one who has trouble reading stuff (speaking is fine 90 % of the time). And now things will reverse.

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Sounds like you already know what you need to do, really. Only perspective I might add is to highlight how different this situation is than, for example, trying to maintain fitness over a monthly business trip or something else that happens semi-regularly. How many times in your life are you realistically going to relocate like this? Just let things go for a bit and focus on exploring and stress relief with the bike.

Perhaps it would be helpful to clarify with your partner/family the importance of whatever riding you’re doing even if it doesn’t look like structured fitness work. Just so everyone else in the house is able to view it with as much respect as they give your normal training schedule. I don’t know if that’s an issue for you normally, but when I imagine myself in your situation that’s what I fear far more than the loss of actual training.

And it might be good to pick both a plan A and plan B date where you’ll resume training in earnest at the other end. A being what you think is manageable and B being your ‘no matter what I’ll do it somehow’ date. Then you’ve got something to aim for and also something to prevent you getting complacent if you find fitness and/or motivation waning.

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Unless the job is a dud, we intend to stay there for the foreseeable future. I picked the company, because I think I have chances to grow and upgrade within the company.

I usually train in the morning, so I have little problem with scheduling — except for my weekend ride. There is always something on the weekend, and my wife’s schedule is pretty fluid (gym, acapella, meeting friends). But nothing that can’t be handled. I expect my schedule to be quite different in Austria, so I will see how we will fare.

That’s an interesting idea. I like that. Thanks!

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Congrats on the new job!

The only thing I would add is that I’ve found the LV Time Crunched 30 plan to be perfect for when life’s complexity jumps up. They’re short enough that I was able to fit them in a number of places in the schedule, and while I lost a bit of fitness, it felt good knowing I had a workout I could go smash if I needed the release of training.

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Good luck! I’m about to move from South Africa to the UK.

Sold all bikes, indoor trainers, etc. Moving with minimal items. My plan is to try and maintain some fitness through running while first there while I suss out the cycling scene (I.e. Do I want a road bike, MTB or grAvel bike?

We have a 2y/o son. Not putting any pressure on myself to do anything other than try get out the door when I can


Same here, good luck. In the past, we moved with minimal items, and that worked well.

Good luck with the job/move. The only moves I have done are from Scotland to Ireland, to Scotland to England, and each time was before I started training and it was solo. I’ve been lucky up to now, Ive taken nothing initially but I have been able to leave stuff with my parent’s and gradually collect it.

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