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Person standing in front of a sign at Mt. Kilimanjaro

In Tanzania, Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro stands as the highest freestanding mountain above sea level in the world. Every year, over 30,000 climbers attempt to reach its peak — it’s a grueling trek that requires roughly a week of hiking for six to eight hours a day through five distinct climates. It’s not for the faint of heart, yet with the proper training, maintains Life Time Dynamic Personal Trainer Ashley Drazkowski, it’s more accessible than you might think.

In 2019, Drazkowski, who trains out of Life Time in St. Louis Park, Minn., was asked by a client to help them prepare for a trek to Machu Picchu in Peru. The experience inspired her to take the trip herself; that trip eventually inspired her to take on other adventures in Greece, South Africa, Costa Rica, Australia, and Tanzania, and she has now led eight group trips. In 2024, she will lead her second group trip to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.

“It was an amazing experience that I knew I needed to share with others,” she says. “I’ve always had a curious mind about the world and different cultures. Combining adventure travel with my athletic background is the perfect way to see the world.”

Building Your Physical Wealth

An active trip is also an opportunity to use your health and fitness to create even greater experiences in your life. “Healthy living allows me to enjoy traveling more,” Drazkowski explains. “It gives me physical wealth in terms of the energy and mobility I need to trek up mountains or for long days of sight-seeing. And it opens my mind and body to unlimited adventure options.

“I view taking care of your body as your physical wealth. Being in the physical shape to withstand varying travel conditions, hikes, or whatever it is you want to do, can make your experience so much more valuable and enjoyable. Just like an athlete preparing for their sport, the better conditioned you are, the better experience you will have.”

Nurturing a Growth Mindset

If you’re itching to go on an adventure but something is holding you back, Drazkowski emphasizes the importance of endeavoring in challenges that help you grow throughout your life. “We’re only gifted with one life,” she says, “and to be able to broaden our horizons in a way that allows us to say, ‘I did that!’ and have that memory and accomplishment — it’s a groundbreaking experience.

“As we get caught up in our day-to-day lives, we might forget about the possibility of these amazing experiences. But no matter your life circumstances or your age, you can do really big things in life. You just have to remind yourself that it’s possible.”

Summiting Kilimanjaro 2024

Drazkowski’s passion for adventure travel has inspired her next trip this winter: leading a group of adventure-seekers on a seven-day trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in January and February 2024 in partnership with Kindred Safaris, a luxury outfitter leading tours, safaris, and treks in Tanzania and Eastern Africa. The group then has the option to stay for an additional six days, in which they’ll embark on a safari through Kilimanjaro National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti National Park.

To help the travelers she’s leading prepare for the trek and safari, Drazkowski has created a 16-week training program. “It’s a virtual program, so anyone, anywhere can participate,” she explains. “To be able to train appropriately, it’s important to make time for it.”

The program includes full-body strength and cardio-training sessions that progress each week. If you’re currently participating in one of Life Time’s signature group training programs (GTX, Alpha, or Ultra Fit), you can continue your regular training with a few additional workout assignments each week.

“If you follow the regimen that we give you, you will be able to enjoy the experience and feel confident in every step you take on the trek,” Drazkowski adds.

Paying It Forward

In addition to being a trainer at Life Time, Drazkowski is also an active member of the Life Time Inclusion Council, an initiative dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion growth across the company and in our communities. She is committed to doing her part to help those who are underserved or marginalized. To live up to that mission, a portion of the proceeds for Drazkowski’s trips are used to help youth athletes in underserved communities get access to the coaching they need to succeed.

“Supporting these youth athletes has been life changing,” Drazkowski says. “We are working to create a better space for them to grow into strong and confident adults. One day, I plan to take a group of them on an adventure like this one to Kilimanjaro.”

Learn more about this trip and register to join online here, or contact Drazkowski directly via email with questions. Note: This offering is not owned or operated by or affiliated with Life Time.

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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