Fitness on the Road

Travel, especially for business, tends to throw people off their routine. Try not to let it happen. When your routine is off, so are you. Although exercising might be the last thing you feel like doing when you get back after a long day of travel, classes, or meetings, it probably is the best thing you can do for yourself. Always bring basic gear with you. Barbara Udell, director of Stress Management and Lifestyle at the Florida Pritikin Center, suggests packing your workout wear last, so that it's the first thing you see when you unzip your bag at your destination.

In addition to your workout clothes, shoes, and a bathing suit, which always should be on your to-bring list, you can take along such lightweight devices as a jump rope, rubber resistance bands, and perhaps even an aerobics video that you can use if your hotel room has a VCR. They don't take up much space in your suitcase. Keeping up with your fitness program can get your blood flowing, stretch out your muscles, help you sleep better in a strange bed, and even reduce stress. Your workout might not be up to your home standards, but consistency is still the key. Some workout is better than no workout.

Get a Plan

You can plan your workout schedule while you are on the plane or when you get to your hotel, and it can fit around your schedule of meetings, seminars, or classes. Write it in your scheduler as if it were a business appointment. Setting an exercise schedule increases the chances you will do it instead of finding an excuse not to.

Most hotels, especially those geared toward business travelers, have some type of fitness center on their premises. Some hotels have sizable, state-of-the-art workout facilities: others stash a treadmill and a weight machine in a guest room at the end of a long hallway. Hotel swimming pools are usually too small for swimming laps, but you can use yours to do some aquatic exercises. Inquire about your hotel's workout facility when you check in and check it out as part of the routine of getting settled. Be sure to note the facility's hours and make your plans accordingly. Depending on the size of the facility, keep in mind that other travelers probably have the same idea as you do.

Unwind in your hotel room with some chair dips and wall-sits after a long day of meetings. (Photos: Courtesy of Simonsen Says, Inc.)

A warm-up and 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic or strength-training is a good basic workout. Ask hotel employees to recommend good place nearby for a walk or a jog. If the weather is bad, try out your jump rope, hotel staircases, marching in place, or another activity you can think of to get your heart rate up a bit. You can alternate between any of these, repeating cycles until you have reached your time goals. Don't worry about what you look like strutting around the hotel's hallways and stairwells.

You are not the first and certainly will not be the last. Besides, all those other guests are strangers, so it really doesn't matter what they think. What they think might be admiration for your willpower and commitment.

Quote, Unquote

"I hav/e never met .in exercise obstacle I could not overcome Here's my travel formula: Pack an ordinary kitchen timer, place a hotel towel on the floor, park yourself in front of the radio or televiiion, and set your clock for Vk miiintet per <ixer-ciie. If you don't h^ve much time, Jo 3 general warm-up followed by push-ups, abdominal crunches, gluteal squeezes, and a general cool-down

-Margarita Richard, television host, Body Electric _,__f

Getting Down to Business

Working out in your room might be a choice, not a necessity. You might prefer to stay there for privacy, comfort, or to await an important phone call. Or your hotel may have no fitness center or a small, crowded one. Various sorts of exercises need no equipment at all, and a few use hotel furniture (see Chapter 8). You can ask a personal trainer to design an on-the-road workout routine that doesn't require any special equipment or that just requires a jump rope or an elastic exercise band or cord.

Because your room won't have an exercise mat, you can use a bath towel or a folded bedspread to cushion your hands and knees and to keep you off the carpet when you are doing floor work in a strange place. Any floor exercise you do on the floor at home or at the gym is fair game in your hotel room. You know how to do them, and if time is a problem, you can mix and match-but do something every day. Here are a few examples of in-room exercises:

♦ Push-ups and crunches. You know by now what these are. (If you have time for nothing else, crank out a couple sets of these basic exercises.)

♦ Lunges. This is another basic exercise that works your glutes, hamstrings, and quads and that requires no equipment at all. Stand with your hands on your hips, behind your neck, or hanging straight down and with your feet shoulderwidth apart. Take a giant step forward and bend your knee to 90 degrees. (Your lower leg should be perpendicular to the floor.) Then push off again with the front leg and return to the starting position. Do four repetitions on each side, and then alternate.

♦ Decline push-ups. Use the desk chair in your room as a bench. Put your feet on the seat and your hands on the floor to do decline push-ups, which are an advanced and very effective workout for your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

♦ Tricep dips. Using the desk chair again, place both hands behind you on the seat and keep your feet under your knees. Lower your body until your butt is just off the floor or straight out in front of you and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Because this works your shoulders and triceps, it combines well with push-ups for a basic upper-body workout.

♦ Back extension. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your head. With your legs fairly straight (but without locking your knees) and your back straight, bend at the waist until your torso is parallel to the floor. Then slowly raise your torso from the hips. Alternatively, lie down prone (face down) on the floor, and simultaneously lift one arm and one leg a few inches off the floor, stretching rather than arching your back. Some people prefer raising the arm and leg on the same side, while others are more comfortable raising the opposite arm and leg. These no-equipment exercises stretch and strengthen your lower back, which is especially useful when you are traveling and have been carrying a heavy briefcase, a laptop, or carry-on luggage through airports and across sprawling parking lots.

♦ Leg raises. If you have an exercise band with you, put it around both ankles and lie on the floor on your side. Lean on one elbow or keep your torso on the floor. Raise your top leg slowly, as high as you can, and then lower it. Repeat on both sides. If you do not have a resistance band, try to improvise some type of ankle weight or put on the heaviest shoes you have with you and do the leg raises anyway. Just the weight of your own leg helps tone your outer and inner thighs.

♦ Squats. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out in front of you. Keep your arms in position and your heels on the ground as you bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground.

♦ Sit-ups. Like crunches and push-ups, you can do sit-ups anywhere. Lie on the floor with your hands behind your neck. Sit up using your stomach muscles. Repeat and do any other version of sit-ups you have been practicing at home or in the gym.

♦ Rope jumping. A few minutes of jumping rope can rev up your heart and provide a quick cardio fix. You won't be able to do it in your room because of the low ceiling, but many suburban hotels have grassy lawns, and some high-rise city hotels have rooftop recreation facilities. If you jump rope around the pool, make sure that you find a nonslip surface to jump on—and remember that tiles don't give and are hard on the joints.

Another alternative for working out on the road is to see if your health club at home has any reciprocal memberships with clubs near your hotel. Check what the options are in your destination city before you depart. Some hotels make arrangements for you. Guests at The Phillips Club, a new boutique hotel in Manhattan, enjoy complimentary access to the nearby Reebok Sports Club/NY, a trendy 140,000-square-foot mega-club. The hotel's Fitness Package includes a one-hour private session with a personal trainer, eliminating any excuse not to work out while on business in the Big Apple, call 212835-8800 or log on to You'll probably be staying in a less-exclusive hotel, but wherever you are, the hotel concierge or front desk also will know if a nearby club offers day memberships to business travelers. YMCAs and recreation centers in many communities permit drop-ins, too.

Fit Tip

Traveling on a plane tends to dehydrate your system. Resist thti temptation to drink alcohol or caffeine on the plane and consume as much water as you can, even if it means wandering down the aisle to restrooms frequently-

Fit Tip

Traveling on a plane tends to dehydrate your system. Resist thti temptation to drink alcohol or caffeine on the plane and consume as much water as you can, even if it means wandering down the aisle to restrooms frequently-

According to a 1999 survey by Healthy Choice foods, American travelers found the following to be their greatest challenges for staying healthy while on the road: finding healthful foods at airports, 76 percent; maintaining normal eating habits, 61 percent; maintaining normal exercise routines, 59 percent; maintaining normal sleep routines, 59 percent; finding a time/place to exercise, 56 percent; finding healthful food at the destination, 54 percent. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents to Travel & Leisure's 1999 annual business travel survey said they use hotel gyms when traveling.

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