When I ran my own gym in Venezuela, I often heard my clients complain about having to travel and the prospect of losing the momentum they had already achieved regarding their conditioning. This “getaway anxiety” sure seemed like a legit concern.
If you are a fitness freak like me, you’ve undoubtedly overlooked great hotels simply because they don’t have decent gyms.
And then there are those who find travel the perfect excuse to say, “I’ll resume my exercise regimen when I return,” but then experience the frustration of coming home to find their favorite jeans don’t fit, or that a bicep curl with 10-pound dumbbells seems too hard. Trust me, you don't want to be in either place.
While I consider exercise and a healthy diet part of who we are and what we do on a regular basis, a trip can be a great opportunity to give both your muscles and mind a break. You won’t take a vacation from a daily shower, but you may take a longer bath when you are away. The same goes for our fitness habits—you can refresh them, much like how a vacation refreshes our minds.
So good news! You can cut back on the frequency, the duration of your training sessions, or both, and still maintain your cardiovascular fitness during your getaway. By training at the higher end of the target heart rate zone (i.e., between 75 percent and 85 percent of the heart rate reserve) you can reduce the training frequency to twice per week, or maintain the frequency but reduce duration by 50 percent.
Now, if your concern is to lose or maintain weight, then volume—how much work you do (e.g., miles you run, laps you swim, etc.) is the important factor.
And if losing body mass or strength is your concern, don’t fret. Studies show that neither factor is affected if you manage to sneak in as little as one resistance workout per week. The trick is to maintain the intensity by using relatively heavy weights.
No matter what your goal is always pack athletic shoes and workout clothes, or buy some fitness gear and apparel as soon as you arrive. This will motivate you to work out.
- No gym at your hotel? Get some resistance band sand workout in your room. They’re easy to pack, too! No time for bands? Get a killer workout just with your bodyweight by increasing your regular reps, decreasing rest periods, doing exercises that use more than one muscle at a time.
Improvise and Keep Your Body Busy!
- Keep in mind that on a trip you ought to stay in shape, but don’t try to improve or set new fitness goals. Keep it simple. You can, however, try something different for a change. Check out that class that you were always curious about, or hire a personal trainer for the day. You might find something that you really like and that will change your workout when you come home.
- If you like endurance training, you’re in luck. You can find suitable jogging trails almost anywhere. Visit mapmyrun.com to find trails in your next destination. Even the stairs at your hotel will do the trick. Add some walking lunges in the hallway and finish with some abdominal exercises in the room, or pack some exercise DVDs beforehand.
- If you’re traveling with others, don’t ruin the vacation for them. Schedule your workouts early in the morning while everyone is still asleep or just getting ready for the day. Or plan activities that can be done together. Ask your family to join you, but always make it fun for them first.
As you can see, taking your workout with you can be the most exciting part of your upcoming trip. Give it a try!
My biggest pet peeve when traveling is being stuck at an airport surrounded by junk food. That’s the reason I always pack my carry-on with plenty of nuts, raisins, popcorn, fruit, protein bars, soy chips and even homemade salads in disposable containers. Pack small portions of these healthy munchies so you have something ready to eat every three hours.
And don’t forget some hand sanitizer, too.
A great supplement for frequent travelers is vitamin C. I always bring this with me and you should, too, even if you’re not traveling anytime soon. We know that people who are really into fitness and sports and train at a high intensity may be prone to produce more free radicals that can affect their immune systems. Therefore, I always make sure to eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, and take my supplements as well.
Travel makes me feel good because it forces me to embrace change. We are so used to routine that whenever we travel we seem to anticipate the bad things that may lie ahead. Who needs the extra stress? Try to look at the unplanned events you’ll face along your trip as opportunities to learn and grow. Even the most unnerving experiences can end up as amusing anecdotes we can share with our loved ones as time goes by.
Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.