Working Out on the Road

By Keri Heath – September 1, 2014

Traveling, whether on a business trip or the family vacation, means a break from habit. Cramped hotel rooms, less-than-stellar gym equipment, and unfamiliar surroundings can be enough to dissuade the overwhelmed traveler from getting in some exercise. Rather than using these as excuses to skip out on exercising, get creative; a little resourcefulness can make fitness part of almost any trip.

What to Pack

The key to a successful workout while traveling is bringing the correct equipment. Plan ahead. If exercising outside is a possibility, check the weather forecast. Traveling to Milwaukee in the middle of December, for example, will require something other than shorts and a light T-shirt. Nothing can ruin exercise motivation quicker than incorrect clothing for the climate, so think ahead when packing workout wear.

Also, don’t forget to toss in those athletic shoes along with business heels or beach sandals. To protect other items from any residual dirt or grime, consider packing workout footwear into a drawstring or gallon-sized plastic bag. It can double as a place to store sweaty clothes post-workout, especially if a washing machine isn’t available.

What to Know

It’s possible to spend hours searching for a hotel with a fitness center only to find out upon arrival that it consists of a couple of mismatched dumbbells and an out-of-order treadmill. Too often the gyms advertised by many hotels are either nonexistent or inadequate. When this happens, the traveling gym rat must find an alternative.

Do some advance research on the local fitness options offered. There may be some fantastic running or biking trails a few short blocks from the hotel or a public pool nearby for swimming laps. Find a YMCA in the area or another local gym and call ahead to inquire about visitor’s passes. Some hotel chains, such as the Hyatt, even offer guests free access to nearby gyms if the hotel doesn’t supply a specific fitness center.

Even cyclists can keep up with their sport while traveling. Bike sharing programs are becoming increasingly common in many major cities, and bike shops and fitness clubs are offering more bike rental options to customers. Take the opportunity to explore some trails or city streets by renting a bike during vacation or business. With a bit of preparation and practice, it’s even possible to rent a bike box and pack your own bike if you so desire.

What to Do

So once a busy traveller arrives and commits to exercise, what options exist for getting that sweat on? Even if the hotel does not have a fitness center with equipment, there are other possibilities. Jog up and down all the stairs in the hotel, skipping steps for a better workout, hop into the pool for a few laps, and walk the grounds.

There are plenty of ways to stay active inside a hotel room, too. Exercise videos are an increasingly popular way to get fast results. Many require little equipment and only a small area of space, so workout DVDs are a great option to slide into a suitcase. Some videos are designed to provide an intense workout in a short amount of time, great for the busy schedule. Simple equipment, such as a jump rope or stretch cord, can also provide a great indoor workout. Forgot the DVD? There are many exercise workouts available on YouTube.

Even without any equipment, it’s easy to find a good workout on any trip. With the right amount of self-monitoring, circuit routines can give just as intense a workout as the equipment in a gym. Try doing various intervals of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, dips, or planks for strength, while alternating with jumping jacks, burpees, or a high-knee jog to include some cardio work.

The real key to exercising while traveling is diligence. While the workout may not be as long or as intense as usual, the important thing is to do something. Think of this situation as an opportunity to incorporate some variety and experience a new environment. While there may still be some stress about that business meeting or over the best tour to take while on vacation, you won’t worry about an expanding waistline or a loss in fitness while on that trip.

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