Joanna Soh is no stranger to physical exercises. As Asia’s leading fitness YouTuber, she leads an active lifestyle. But a recent trip to New South Wales in Australia was an exercise of a different kind – one that involved the mother-daughter bond.

Soh, 29, got to experience the city of Sydney and the NSW region with her mum Ooi Chooi Gaik, 58, and strengthened their ties along the way. “We always look forward to our mother-daughter trips. It’s an opportunity for us to bond, try new things and explore new places,” the certified fitness trainer revealed.

“My mum is quite sporting, so she’s always excited about travelling to a new country, trying different activities and food. She’s easygoing and would happily follow the itinerary I’ve planned.”

The itinerary to NSW included climbing the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, camel-riding and quad-biking at Port Stephens, ballooning at Hunter Valley, and bush-walking in the Blue Mountains.

“We were 134m above sea level and it was freezing, but mum and I enjoyed every bit of it. This is truly the most majestic way to experience a 360° view of Sydney city and I would say it’s a definite must-do!” Soh said of her bridge-climbing experience.

The hot air balloon experience at Hunter Valley saw Soh and Ooi working together as a team.

The hot air balloon experience at Hunter Valley saw Soh and Ooi working together as a team.

“It was our first time on a hot air balloon and what made the experience even more fun was because everybody had to get involved. We had to work together as a team to inflate the hot air balloon and even pack it up,” Soh said.

New South Wales, according to Soh, is a great place for a mother-daughter trip as it offers the “best of both worlds”.

“You get to experience the mega city and at the same time, you get to spend time outdoors in nature. There’s something for everybody, depending on your fitness level and what you enjoy, whether it’s indoors or outdoors,” she said.

If anything, their fitness level is something that Soh takes into consideration whenever she plans for trips together with her mother.

“Whenever we plan a trip, I’d tell her in advance that this trip involves hiking or long walks. Mum would make the effort to keep her fitness level up by hiking regularly back home, just to keep up with me!” she said, adding that Ooi started hiking three years ago.

The itinerary to NSW includes camel-riding and quad-biking at Port Stephens.

The NSW trip aside, Soh has taken a few other trips with her mother. The duo has travelled to China, South Korea, Russia, Britain, Greece and Japan.

Ooi wasn’t able to travel much when she was younger due to financial constraints. Soh’s goal now is to take her mum on a holiday at least once a year. “I want to make sure that I give that opportunity to my mum while she’s still healthy and fit,” Soh said, adding that she has always shared a special bond with her mother.

Staying fit while travelling

Soh is arguably one of the most popular wellness and fitness personalities on social media. Her YouTube channel has over one million subscribers, with 100 million views.

Soh always looks forward to the mother-daughter trips with her mum.

With weekly videos that touch upon topics like healthy meals and proper exercise forms, among others, Soh has amassed dedicated viewers across the globe. Does she consider a vacation as a prolonged “cheat day” of sorts then?

“I wouldn’t like to consider that. I do believe that when you’re on a holiday, you can be more relaxed with your fitness routine and try new things. However, I still believe in balance and moderation.

“You can indulge but at the same time, you can always look for healthier local food options which are equally delicious,” she said, adding that it helps that Sydney is known for its health food scene.

Her other holiday fitness tips include staying at a hotel with gym access and participating in outdoor activities.

“For instance, rather than just taking public transport, I love exploring the city or town on foot. It’s a great way to check out a new place and at the same time you’re keeping yourself active. Plus, it’s budget-friendly!” she said.

Above all else, Soh’s philosophy is there is no better time than the present. It’s something that she applies when it comes to planning for more holidays with her dear mother.

“Planning a mother-daughter trip doesn’t necessarily mean travelling far away or spending lots of money. But rather, it’s about making the effort to spend time together away from your usual routine, trying new things and just giving each other the space to bond.

“If you can, do it NOW. You want to travel with your mum when she’s still fit and able. Don’t wait until it gets tougher as she goes into her golden years. Don’t wait until you have the time. Make time,” she concluded.

AirAsia X, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Malindo Air all offer flights departing from KL International Airport to Sydney Airport in New South Wales, Australia.