Friday, April 23, 2010 2:2 pm
MY PERSONAL BEST
How to refresh your fitness habits while you are on vacation.
By Marta Montenegro; Photography by Steve Shaw Photography, Inc.
UP IN THE AIR
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 legitimate concern.
If you are a fitness freak like myself, you’ve undoubtedly overlooked great hotels simply because they don’t have decent gyms—even if they are hotels your partner or family wants to stay in. At some point you feel like you’re being forced to choose between what your family wants and what your body is demanding you do.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who find travel the perfect excuse to say, “I’ll resume my exercise regimen when I return,” but then experience the inevitable frustration of coming home to find their favorite jeans don’t fit, or that a bicep curl with 25-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 on hiatus. 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% and 85% of the heart rate reserve) you can reduce the training frequency to twice per week, or maintain the frequency but reduce duration by 50%. 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, follow the tips listed here to return from your vacation as a healthier and fitter YOU.
• 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 bands and work out 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 new 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, like the MM21 set.
• If you’re traveling with someone, don’t ruin the vacation for those around you. 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!
Have a question? Drop me a note! I am always here for my friends, my family and my wonderful community! Whether it’s a simple question about an exercise or advice to improve your diet and overall health, know that I’m available to answer your questions, from one fitness enthusiast to another. Find your victory! Don’t hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.