Fitness when you’re traveling

by Ryan Wagner

Maintaining your level of fitness while traveling can be a tough thing. But if you put some thought into it you’ll realize that there are plenty of ways for you to stay fit while being on the go.

Why is fitness on the road so difficult?

Many of us have a tough time being active when we travel simply because we no longer have a nice solid routine. Instead of recognizing travel as an opportunity to create something new, to play with your own movement and to be exploratory, we think we have to stick with the exact program or running/exercise schedule as we do back home.

Also, time is short. I’ve been there myself. Business travel sometimes takes up to 12 or 14 hours a day. As the clock strikes 5:00 pm, it turns into happy hour with colleagues or business associates and from there turns into a dinner meeting. Suddenly it’s 9:00 pm, you have jet lag and the last thing you want to do is go to the small hotel gym.

And still some of you may go on a business trip or vacation and think to yourselves, “Well, this is my vacation and I shouldn’t have to worry about including exercise.” If this sounds like you, then what does this say about your definition of fitness? That it’s an obligation?!

Now this borders on the discussion of a much larger and involved story on movement – that how you move is more important that how much weight you can lift, how many reps, etc. In a previous post I wrote about two emerging fitness methods that are part of a larger fitness trend on finding your body’s own movement. And traveling can be a time to begin exploring this perception on fitness.

That being said, I offer up a couple examples to maintain your fitness when you’re traveling:

When at the beach

Think jogging is all you can do? Think again.

While on a recent beach I did a little searching around and found some unlikely workout tools. A simple sturdy wooden structure became a pull-up bar and a palm tree stump, a bench for pistols.

For the uninitiated, fooling around and just playing with fitness may seem a little unnatural. Especially, if you’re accustomed to a trainer’s guidance or Women’s/Men’s Health magazine. To make things easier, here are a couple rules to bear in mind:

1. Have fun!

Be playful with your movement. Since you’re not in a gym now is your chance to experiment and not feel the judgmental gaze of the elliptical crowd. Just put on your ‘little kid hat’ and go for it.

2. Include the major movement patterns

Make sure you do some variation of the following,

Squat – Deadlift – Push – Pull – Carry

If you get these movements in the mix then you’ll have a nice, well rounded program. And don’t worry about the weight. If you squat 225 lbs every Monday in your neighborhood gym, don’t fret about finding a 225 lb log on the beach. Try some pistols – single leg squats. Few guys can even do one, much less a dozen in a row. But what’s important is that you get the movement pattern in. You are maintaining your mobility and treating your body to a unique workout. Good stuff.

In the city

Whether you travel for business or pleasure and end up in a metropolis, you have a few options.

1. Drop into a gym for a daily (or weekly) pass.

This can help keep you closest to your normal routine. Most gyms have more or less the same equipment and you can drop in right where you left off before you left on your trip. Plus, you’ll have all the familiar facilities for convenience.

2. The park

Assuming the absence of inclement weather you can spend your workout in the park. Naturally, people think of running around the park, but you can do so much more. Stop by the playground and use the monkey bars as a pull-up bar. Or a picnic table as a bench to place your feet on for a pike. When you start getting creative you’ll find all sorts of ways for you to get a great full body workout in.

3. Your hotel room

At the very least you can workout right in your hotel room. Body weight squats, pistols, push-ups, planks and other body weight exercises are things you can do right in your room. And handstands if you can!

The only tough movement pattern to tackle will be the pull. But getting into the bent over barbell row position and using your suitcase may be sufficient.

Wrap up

I hope the tips above will be enough to get you thinking a little more creatively about how you exercise while on the road. And more importantly, I hope this post helps to nudge you a little in the direction of viewing movement as key to being healthy and happy and not that fitness is synonymous to grinding through endless hours of cardio or boring circuit workouts.

Here’s a question to keep in mind: Will not working out like you usually do ruin your fitness program? Of course not. In fact, proponents of high intensity training emphasize that once a week workouts may be enough. But a vacation or business trip should be an escape from your usual routine. So use this as a chance to try something new.

You are in charge of your fitness. It shouldn’t be the other way around.

By Ryan Wagner

Fitness when you're traveling by