Do you like to travel? Do you like to work out? Are you filled with excitement about a burpee wood-chopping competition? Snow Roberts (’97) has the WOD for you.
Last year, Roberts, an endorphin enthusiast and CrossFit booster, launched Blue Highway Adventures, a travel and functional fitness company in Raleigh, North Carolina. It takes small groups all over the world, from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Peru to Switzerland.
Her first goal is to ensure that anyone going on the excursions can maintain their workouts of the day, or “WOD,” as they are called in CrossFit-speak, but the manner of exercise can be rather out-of-the-ordinary. “Burpee wood-chopping” is one example — a round of burpees (a sweaty combination of pushups and jumping jacks), followed by a wood-chopping session with real wood. Lunges and squats are also on the agenda.
Roberts’ other goal is connecting people through adventure travel.
Roberts dabbled in intramurals at Wake Forest, where she majored in communication, and acknowledges that those who knew her in college might be surprised she started a fitness-based business. “I didn’t have the same focus on a culture of wellness that I now essentially center my life around,” she says, “but I always had the travel interest, an interest in the outdoors and learning new things, so that wouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.”
Indeed, a pull toward uncharted territory seems to be an inherited trait in Roberts’ family. In 1918, her great-grandfather took his family of five girls to live in the Great Dismal Swamp. Now, nearly 100 years later, “His sense of adventure runs through the veins of generations to come,” Roberts says on the Blue Highway Adventures website. Roberts’ uncle also impressed her with his passport stamps from more than 100 countries. He always told her to travel, she says, but “not just do what the guidebook says, and get off the beaten path.”
Roberts’ yearning for travel got a fix when, after her junior year, she enrolled in a summer study-abroad program, “Eurotour.” Memories from that trip helped spark the idea for her company. “I loved seeing so many different cultures in one six-week trip,” she says. “And I especially loved doing it all with a smaller group to work and interact with.” She decided to go to graduate school and learn the basics for a travel career.
After graduate school at N.C. State University, Roberts spent 11 years working in Raleigh at Broadreach, a study-abroad program for middle, high school and college students. As for her own fitness, she was working out but not seeing great results. A friend told her about CrossFit, and soon she was hooked. She found that CrossFit gave her the results she wanted and the opportunity to make connections with others.
CrossFit also inspired her to leap. “After 11 years I was ready to make a change with my career,” she says. “I knew I wanted to start my own business, but I didn’t know what.” She combined what she liked — exercise, travel and friendship — to create what she calls “a path of passion” for her.
“Some people think it’s crazy because I left a good job without a lot of an idea of what I was going to do, but you only get a few chances in your life to take a big risk,” Roberts says. “For me, Blue Highway Adventures is a big risk and also a big reward.”
On the company’s website, next to a photo of Roberts hoisting a truck tire, she explains her mission and closes with a fitting farewell: “Cheers to wanderlust and endless adventure!”