Welcome to Inspirational Nomads, a Turf to Surf series where I interview travelers around the world about working abroad and living their dreams.
I’ve met dynamic characters all over the world doing every kind of job imaginable and I’ve been inspired by their stories about where they’ve traveled, what they’ve done for work and the amazing adventures they’ve had. Read on to learn more about the people who travel and work and how they got their start.
Sam Rossiter: Fitness Trainer in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
“What doesn’t challenge you won’t change you!” is a regularly shouted mantra from Fitness Trainer Sam Rossiter while his students are drowning in sweat and their faces are contorted with pain and exhaustion during his classes at Rogue Fitness in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.
Rogue Fitness is a beach-loving athlete’s dream. With an open-air gym, yoga loft overlooking the beach, skate ramp, circus trapeze and a bar and restaurant serving healthy, protein-packed smoothies and meals, it is the most comprehensive fitness complex in the Dominican Republic, and probably the whole of the Caribbean. It’s also where I train four times a week in an effort to keep up with Cabarete’s hard-bodied surfers, kiteboarders, gymnasts, mountain climbers and extreme athletes who are attracted to this town for the same reasons I am: the sports and the beach lifestyle.
Sam is a hard-core athlete and personal trainer who has worked at Rogue Fitness for over two years, punishing his students with just the kind of intense, nauseating workouts they expect. “I used to say if you puked in my class, the class was free,” Sam tells me. “But so many people puked, I wasn’t making any money. So I had to stop that.”
In every class Sam teaches, it’s evident that (1) he could beat anyone in a beer-can-crushing competition, (2) he loves his job, and (3) he loves to torture people (which goes well with #2). When Sam isn’t telling me to “man-up” and peel my wimpy self off the floor, sometimes we chat about Cabarete and traveling the world. And how he landed his dream job abroad.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Oxford, England in the countryside. We had a farm with no animals, but plenty of land to tear up on dirt bikes. Our neighbors hated us.
How did you get into fitness?
After I left school, I became a qualified sports coach and through my studies of exercise physiology, I became obsessed with gymnastics and free-running. I tried to apply what I knew about human movement to a discipline to try and be the best I could be.
I love being able to do what normal people can’t. But mainly because back flips are super awesome — everybody knows that.
Did you always want to travel?
Doesn’t everybody? The thing is, most people want to, but few have the huevos to pack up their things and book a ticket. They’re afraid of leaving what they have behind. Scared of losing what they think they own, when clearly it is their possessions that own them.
I couldn’t wait to get out of England. It’s cold and it always rains. And if the rest of the world knew what a ‘chav’ was, you wouldn’t want to go there either. I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood though, or better parents. I always had this dream of sandy beaches and clear waters for when I retired. Now I have no idea what I’m going do when I retire since I’m 24 and live on the beach.
What was it like when you first got to Cabarete?
When I first got here, I was overwhelmed by how many people I met; people were always coming and going. Over 2 years later, I now know that’s just another thing that never changes about this town. You get used to it, and it’s awesome.
Everybody’s here for the same reason: to enjoy life. The language barrier was a challenge at first, but after a while you learn a little and your confidence goes right up.
How did you end up working at Rogue Fitness?
When I first moved here I didn’t have a job and I only knew one person, Susi Mai. She grew up here and introduced me to some awesome people who were so willing to help me out in finding my feet.
After a while here, you learn that that’s just how this town is. Everyone’s so chilled and all the locals know each other. But if I wanted to stay here, I had to find work. So I posted fliers all around town advertising personal training and massage services. My company is called FreeRUNFitness. It took a while before the work started coming in. Now I get lots of business just from word of mouth.
Susi introduced me to Zach who, at the time, was working in MiGym (which is now Rogue Fitness). When he left for the winter, I took over for him and ran the gym for the next year. A year later, Zach created Rogue Fitness at the Extreme Hotel and we continued working together. Here we run all our own personal training sessions, sports massage therapy, fitness camps, Cross-Fit and Body Sculpt classes.
What do you like about living abroad? About living in Cabarete?
It’s my dream land. It’s paradise. Imagine waking up every single morning to the sunlight in your eyes and the warmth on your face with palm tree leaves waving in the wind. That’s the view from my window, and my day starts when the sun rises. Much better than an alarm clock, don’t you think?
I ride a motorbike up and down a 5-minute stretch of coast to the gym, and then another 2 minutes to get to the center of town. I live at the main surf spot here, Encuentro. It’s a small town, so nothing’s too far away.
I love Cabarete. It has so much to offer and I’m totally happy here. There’s a saying that goes, “Freedom is doing whatever you want, whereas happiness is loving whatever you do.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to travel and work as a fitness trainer?
I had no idea what life would be like out here; I was apprehensive and wasn’t sure how long I could live abroad.
And it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Everybody else who lives here has the same basic story of how they ended up here, so I can only urge you to travel! Pack your things, book a ticket, send out applications, go online and contact people. Learn a language, learn to surf, fall in love. Do something with your life that means something to you. But you’ve got to be willing to take the risk and go out into the unknown.
A lot of people say they go traveling to ‘find themselves’. I thought that once too, but then I went traveling and I found that life wasn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. And it’s so simple! Just be yourself! After all, everybody else is taken.
Sam is a USN sponsored athlete – check out his video “Challenge Yourself”: