Just over one year ago, Zenergy Trainer Brenda Powell took the final steps to achieve an 18-year dream: Walking the 500-mile Camino de Santiago de Compestela, the legendary pilgrim’s route through Spain. Training for more than six months for a grueling and inspiring trek lasting 31 days, Brenda endured achy swollen feet and painful blisters along the way. But she continues to reap the rewards of her physical and spiritual journey. Here’s what Brenda had to say when asked about life after the Camino.
Z: How has life changed since the Camino?
BP: While training for the Camino, I made some lifestyle changes that included getting rid of my TV. This created more free time in my schedule than I could have imagined. I had no idea how much time I was wasting! After returning, I stayed with that commitment and found that I have much more time to exercise. I also stayed with a schedule of daily meditation. My Camino walk was meant to be not only a physical challenge but a spiritual journey as well, and I treated it like a walking meditation. Upon returning, I committed to reserving at least 30 minutes at the beginning and at the end of the day to meditate, which helps keep me centered and motivated.
Z: How do you feel mentally and physically one year later?
BP: Thanks to keeping the above-mentioned commitments, I feel quite mentally and physically strong. My Camino experience recalibrated me in a way that I’m able to sustain a pretty fit level of being – but it has to be attended to!
Z: Have you set any big new fitness goals?
BP: Setting continual fitness goals is such an important part of the journey. My life has changed in really big ways in the past year so those goals are a bit fuzzy – the goal for now is to stay in shape until the next challenge presents itself – be ready!
Z: Have your workouts changed? If so, how?
BP: My workouts haven’t really changed too much – I’ve always had a pretty diverse program. I’m a bit more committed to regular strength training as I feel (especially as a woman hitting her stride in her 50s) that keeping the muscle mass and strength is so important. It is really the foundational work to all we do – and keeps us from getting injured
Z: What was your favorite part about the training?
BP: Exploring all of the beautiful trails our area has to offer- and I’m still finding new ones to explore! I loved having a focused goal and the vision to get out no matter what and do the work to get there!
Z: If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?
BP: What I would (and will) do differently is go back and do the French Route, the more widely known and much more traveled route. I chose the less-traveled Norte Route to have a more physically challenging experience and avoid bigger crowds. It certainly delivered on the challenge, but I was not alone as much as I thought I would be. Additionally, the Norte attracts a more physically oriented, less spiritually seeking sort of pilgrim. I would love to go and get the stories from those on the Camino Frances next.
Z: What’s your #1 piece of advice for people wanting to walk the Camino?
BP: Walk your own walk! You can listen to a hundred people who have done the trek and they all have different stories. Your camino is your personal vision quest and it will never turn out to be like anyone else’s – or anything you could imagine.