Working Out On The Road
As any frequent traveller will attest, maintaining your normal workout routine while on the road can be challenging. Long flights, disrupted sleep patterns, busy days, social events, unpredictable meals, and more can all conspire to sabotage the progress you’ve made in the gym in short order. When you’re travelling, the key to maintaining a sense of normalcy and not feeling totally wrecked upon your return is focusing on what you can control and making the most of your situation.
Depending on the length of your trip and the structure of your days, here’s some tips and strategies to optimize your time away from home.
First, take into consideration the length of your trip. If we’re talking a short, mid-week business trip for example, I recommend keeping it simple. Your best options here are going for a run / long walk / bike ride (almost all major cities have public bike share services as do many hotel chains, or a quick hotel gym workout. If you opt to workout outside, shoot for 30-60 minutes, ideally first thing in the morning. Take 5-10 minutes to loosen up, get in a good sweat, and get on with your day. For hotel gym workouts, your options are largely going to be dictated by the gear & layout of the facility. I’ve seen great and terrible hotel gyms, but you can always get in a good workout if you’re able to be creative. Generally speaking, I’d shoot for 20-45 minutes, placing a premium on higher rep free weight and bodyweight movements, maybe some cardio elements (bike / treadmill / elliptical), performed in a circuit with the goal of elevating the heart rate and getting your sweat on. On shorter trips, I’d recommend working out daily as a way to jump start your day, loosen up, and energize your mind and body. Here’s some great resources for workout ideas that can be done with minimal equipment and time:
Next up is the longer business trip / vacation. In this example, you may have a bit more time and flexibility to workout and as such have more options to take advantage of. In addition to the aforementioned hotel gym or outdoor workout, also consider dropping in to a local CrossFit affiliate or taking a class at a local studio.
First, you should still strive to get your workout in first thing in the morning. This is typically the only time of day you have full agency over, time can easily get away from you on vacation, and if you put off exercise, there’s no guarantee you’ll have time to do it later. Not wanting to get up early is an easy excuse to make, but you’ll thank yourself later for following through.
I always try to drop in to local CrossFit gyms when I’m travelling and encourage you to as well. You’re guaranteed to meet some cool people and get in a great workout in a familiar setting, albeit with strangers. First, use the CrossFit Affiliate Map (or Google, obviously) to see what gyms are closest to you. Check their website to see their drop in policy and schedule, and always try to call or email ahead to inquire about dropping in for class. Get there early to sign the waiver & pay, then get after it and go about the rest of your day. Option 2 is taking a class at another local fitness studio. Same rules apply to taking a CF class; check the website, reach out in advance, and get there early. Personally, I’d opt for a hot yoga class if I wasn’t doing CrossFit since I always seem to feel much more tight and stiff from sitting on planes and sleeping in unfamiliar beds. Sweating and stretching seem to get me back to baseline, but if you prefer spin or something else, that works too! You may consider using a service like Class Pass if you travel frequently, as you can choose from a wide array of classes & studios in your local area and register online in advance from the convenience of your phone. Many studios and CF gyms cap their classes, so this can help you ensure a spot in the class.
Lastly, a note on planning and preparation. Do your homework in advance of your trip – figure out your workout options, nearby studios, etc. before you fly. Once you know your options, you can pack accordingly. If you’re going to CrossFit for example, bring your gym shoes, tape, wrist wraps, etc. so you’re ready for whatever the workout may hold. I’d also be sure to pack a good water bottle and some portable, healthy snacks to have pre- or post-workout for some quick energy. I find that I am much more likely to workout when I register for a class or schedule the time and location of my workout in advance, rather than haphazardly hoping I find time at some point to squeeze something in.
Don’t let a little travel stop you from keeping up with your workout routine. Remember, some movement is always better than none, and maintaining your workout habit matters way more than the workout itself. With some advanced thought and planning, you can successfully mitigate the effects of both short and long term travel. Adapt, improvise, and keep moving forward!