Traveler, DJ, Jiu-Jitsu: COTF March Traveler Of The Month Michael Chidiac
I am happy to present the March CarryOnTravelFitness Traveler Of The Month as Michael Chidiac. I met Mike, a born and raised Montrealer, last year at Carlson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Montreal. We became fast friends and training partners. I even convinced him to come join me in Berlin for a week (he ended up staying 3 weeks total!) and I was excited to hear what he had to say about one of my favorite cities in the world. Jiu-jitsu isn't the only martial art that Mike partakes in. Growing up, Mike did Kyokushin Karate and is a black belt in the martial art. In addition to martial arts, Mike is a big fan of weightlifting, eating, and of course, traveling. He has an upcoming work trip to Japan (tough life i know..) later this month. He'll be in Nagasaki and Okinawa. If anyone has any suggestions for Mike, be sure to send them his way. Without further ado, let's see what Mike had to say:
1. Mike, Thanks so much for joining! I know you have lived in a few countries. Which ones?
I have actually only had residencies in two different countries and that is Canada and the United-States. I’ve lived 99% of my life right here in Montreal but I spent a little over half a year in Boston back when I was a student for an internship. I have had the chance to travel around for work so I’ve had the chance to stay a few months in LA and in Osaka, but that was living in a hotel as opposed to having my own place there.
2. What languages do you speak?
My two strongest languages are French and English, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since I’m from Montreal. I also speak Arab since both my parents are from Lebanon, but because I don’t actually need Arab to live here in Canada, it could use some improvement. I also did German classes back in university but unfortunately didn’t stick with it and I regret not doing so.
3. What were some difficulties adjusting to the culture in some of the places you’ve lived?
When I was in Boston, it was definitely the lifestyle. People are much more into sleeping early, going on walks, enjoying outside fitness and the likes and being a DJ back in Montreal, it was very different than what I was used to. Being in LA I really disliked the very strong car culture. I love being able to use public transport, biking and walking around and it was just impossible in LA. Everything is so far away! In Japan, obviously the language was a big difference, but I was surprised with how little gyms there were. People mainly stay fit by eating healthy and walking around a lot. Everyone was pretty much thin.
4. I know techno and dancing is a big part of your life. How’d you get into it?
I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid but I mainly listened to trance and house back then. I got more into techno when I started going to afterhours like Circus and Stereo when I was in Cegep (This is what Cegep is for those not from Québec). I ended up working as a photographer and DJ at Circus from 2009 to 2014. Techno has always been a great way to escape, dance, meet people and simply spend some good times. The DJing is something that takes a lot of time and I wish I had twice the hours in a day that I have to just listen to tracks.
5. Where are you right now? How did you end up there?
Working as a software developer at a multimedia company in Montreal called Moment Factory. We create multimedia experiences for shows and permanent installations. We’ve done some big artists like Madonna, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers and countless others. My last semester in university I had to do a project with a company and ended getting paired with Moment Factory. They needed a tool to crawl through their stock files and store them in a database as well as having a search engine for artists to be able to find what they need quickly and share them with each other. The project went super well and I got offered a job. Been here 4 years now.
6. How was your time in Berlin? Did you enjoy it?
I really loved Berlin (It's time to take a trip!) Alongside New York, it’s one of the rare cities I’d see myself living in if I weren’t in Montreal (my job is probably what’s keeping me here). As a non driver, I loved how easy it was to get around by either train or biking (the city is very flat). I enjoyed the look of the city and would be able to do a lot of photography there. The nightlife is also something else that I thought was top. No time limits for clubs, great music, lots of different locations you can go out to. Unfortunately sometimes bouncers can be harsh and turn your night from amazing potential to great disappointment.
Mike Joined Me For A Trip To Abandoned Soviet Base In Berlin
7. What’s your normal fitness routine?
It changes quite a lot. Recently I’ve been focusing on Jiu-jitsu, training somewhere between 2 and 3 hours a night with rest on Saturdays. Late 2016 I suffered an injury that required surgery so that took me out for 7 months. Before that I was doing the same Jiu-Jitsu training but on top of that I would wake up at 5am to go to the gym and get to work by 7:30. It might have been too much and was the cause of my injury but I was in peak physical shape and I’m aiming to get back there safely.
8. How are you staying fit while traveling?
It’s always a challenge. Usually when I travel for work I barely get time to work out most of my fitness is focused around keeping a good cardio. I don’t have access to high end gyms so hotel gyms are what I have at hand. I’ll try to do a good half hour of high paced cycling and then a mixture of bodyweight exercises such as squats, push-ups, sit ups and the likes. I’m still trying to figure out a better way to do things. In a month I’ll be spending three weeks on a small island in Japan. There’s no Jiu-Jitsu around and I’m not even sure there’s a gym so I’ll have to get creative.
9. What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Why?
I guess it’s a toss up between Japan and Berlin. Japan has so much to discover and see it’s unbelievable. It’s really different from where I was brought up, I feel like I’m in a whole new world of possibilities. On the flip side, Berlin feels very homey to me. I get the feeling that I belong there and that my lifestyle wouldn’t be too different than from back home. I enjoy that familiarity.
10. How do you balance healthy eating while sampling the local cuisine?
Honestly, I could probably say that I don’t! When I travel food is one of my top priorities so I end up trying out everything and I pack on the pounds. This is something I’ve grown mindful of as my work has been sending me more and more on business trips. I don’t usually get kitchens so I need to figure out a way to make raw meals. Usually fruits and vegetables can cover a large portion of my diet but in places like Japan, they’re really hard to come across (I was surprised to see they’re not part of their diet).
11. 3 words to describe your fitness regime
Consistent, adapted and sane.
12. What is your motto when you travel?
No plans. I don’t want to be bogged down by having to be somewhere and having to follow pre-established plans. Whatever comes up I’m up for it. This allows me to be flexible and discover things I most probably wouldn’t have otherwise if I had stuck with a specific plan.
Thank you for your time, Mike! See you at training tonight!
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