By Tom Venuto
Author of Holy Grail Body Transformation
I recently read two articles about travel fitness. One said that while you're traveling, you should keep up with 50% of your normal training and the other said you should keep up with only one-third.
Both were written by well known fitness professionals and both said that you should NOT expect to keep up your regular exercise program while you are traveling.
That struck me as kind of "lame" and I said to myself, “Why the heck not? Why do people have such low standards and demand so little of themselves? Why do they let themselves off the hook and scale back?”
Sometimes, of course, traveling is purely for a vacation – including a vacation from training. Occasional time off from intense training is beneficial and necessary to let your body recover and rejuvenate completely from chronic training stress, just as time off from the office is needed to disengage your mind for a while.
It’s also true that it really doesn’t take much to maintain fitness once it is developed, and an abbreviated, but still effective, workout routine could certainly be used, if you choose, when you’re on the road.
However, you still have healthy eating to think about and just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can’t follow your regular exercise regimen. Why settle? If you want to continue to improve your physique while on the road, you can! Here are 10 ways that I did it on my last extended business trip that you may find helpful as well. It begins with a simple decision.
1. Decide to improve while you’re traveling and to come home in better shape than when you left
Nearly every time I travel (the exception being if it’s a complete rest and relaxation vacation), I set a goal to come home in better shape than when I left. The only reason most people usually come home with lower fitness and a few extra pounds than when they left is because they didn’t make a decision to do otherwise. In fact, many people hold a belief that it’s “impossible” to stay on their eating and exercise program while they are traveling! Why not get in better shape no matter where you are? The truth is, all it takes is a decision and some planning. I find it a fun and exhilarating challenge to improve myself no matter where I am in the world.
2. Write out your workout schedule in advance
There’s nothing like writing your goals down on paper to keep your mind focused and keep yourself motivated. In addition to writing out goals regularly, preferably every day, you should also commit your training schedule to paper and especially when you are traveling. Write down the days, the time of the day and the exact workout you plan to do and you will be amazed at how easy you will find it is to get to the gym and have great workouts.
3. Get a hotel with a kitchen
The single most important part of my travel arrangements was to book a hotel with a kitchen. For me, not having a kitchen is not an option. If you don’t have kitchen, you will be much more likely to skip meals, it’s very difficult to eat 5 or 6 times a day (as required by any good fat burning or muscle building nutrition program), and you may end up at the mercy of restaurant, hotel or convenience store food.
For my most recent trip, I stayed at Homestead Studio Suites, one of several national hotel chains in the USA which includes a full kitchen including a refrigerator, microwave, stove – the whole works. Extended Stay America and Marriot Residence Inn offer similar accommodations.
On previous trips, if there wasn’t such a hotel with a kitchen in the vicinity, I searched the internet for apartments for short term rental. You may be surprised at the type of lodging you can find and often you will be pleased with price as compared to hotels.
I once booked a luxury condo for 7 days and it ended up costing less than the hotel I was first considering, and the hotel didn’t even have a kitchen. Nothing beats a full kitchen, but you may also find that many hotels will provide you with a microwave and mini-refrigerator if you ask for them.
4. Go food shopping immediately after checking in
The FIRST thing I did after checking in was to make a beeline straight to the local grocery store. I took a shopping list with me because on past trips I found that I nearly always seemed to forget one or two small items if I didn’t have the written grocery list.
Once you have a fully stocked refrigerator and kitchen, your meal planning and preparation is NO DIFFERENT than it is when you are home.
5. Check the local restaurant locations and menus and commit in advance to making healthy choices when dining out
Since I had a kitchen at my disposal, the majority of my meals were just business as usual. I cooked them right in my hotel room and brought them along with me wherever I went. However, when traveling, it’s likely that you will probably be having quite a few restaurant meals.
I make it a habit to scope out the local restaurants in advance and even check their websites. Most have their menus online these days. I make a decision in advance whether it will be a regular meal or a “cheat meal.” If it’s a cheat meal, I enjoy whatever I want, but I always keep portion sizes in mind.
For example, last time, I split a slice of cheesecake with a friend. Was I guilty? Heck no, it was my planned cheat day, I only ate half a slice and it was the first cheesecake I had in 12 months!
If you walk into a restaurant without having made a decision in advance whether you are staying on your regular meals or having a cheat meal, you are much more likely to have a “diet accident” and make a poor choice on impulse, especially if you’re influenced by non-healthy-eating companions (don’t under estimate the negative peer pressure factor).
All it takes is one unplanned cheat meal and that can often lead to guilt. Then “all or none thinking” tends to set in and you may tell yourself, “Well, I blew it,” so the next meal and then the rest of the week tends to completely fall apart as well.
6. Cook portable foods and bring meal replacements or healthy snacks for drives, flights and day trips
I love to drive, so for my trip last month I packed everything up in my car and hit the road. Naturally, I cooked for the road trip and my food came with me! I’ve learned how to make a variety of portable foods including several different types of oatmeal pancakes, tuna burgers and healthy sandwiches.
Some of these “portable foods” can be even eaten with your hands while you are in a car, on a plane or sitting in a seminar room.
On my recent trip, I knew I had a long drive, so I calculated the number of hours on the road and the number of meals I would need and simply brought them all with me. For two of my on-the-road meals I had oatmeal-egg white-apple-cinnamon pancakes and one of my “meals” was simply a high protein meal replacement shake and fresh fruit. It’s not difficult at all when you plan and pack food in advance.
7. Choose your gym or check your hotel fitness facilities in advance
Many people work out right in their hotel rooms with a body weight exercise program or even portable equipment. Since I’m a bodybuilder, I refuse to go without a fully equipped gym. Unfortunately, on-site Hotel gyms are notorious for sounding great in the advertisements and then when you arrive, you find that the “gym” is a room about the size of a walk in closet, with a few pieces of (mostly broken) archaic equipment from the 1970’s.
There are a few exceptions, but having learned my lesson a couple times, I now use the Internet to locate a gym prior to my trip. Call in advance and ask if there are daily or weekly rates.
You can also ask if your hotel has an affiliation with a local health club. During my last trip, the hotel was affiliated with a Bally Total Fitness Center that was just a 10 minute drive away and use of the Bally’s was included with the price of my room. It turned out to be an excellent club, so I was a happy camper.
If you are already a member of a gym in your local area, check to see if your gym has an affiliation with other clubs around the country or if they belong to an organization such as IHRSA (international Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association). Some clubs are part of a network which allows you to train at other clubs when you're traveling - all you have to do is show your membership card and you will get access to train at other clubs that are part of the network. IHRSA has more than 6,500 clubs in 67 countries in its network.
8. Pack your workout gear and plenty of workout clothes
When you pack hastily at the last minute, things can easily be forgotten and left behind, so be sure to pack plenty of workout clothes with you and bring any other gym gear you might need (belt, lifting straps, etc). For extended trips, inquire with your hotel to see if they have laundry facilities. (The hotel where I recently stayed had an on site laundry room, which came in handy with my 2.5 week stay).
9. Change up your workouts as you change up your gym
Some people get accustomed to their hometown gym and they’re upset or disappointed when they don’t have access to the same equipment when they travel. They feel that it cramps their style or hinders their results. However, this can really be a blessing in disguise.
Your body adapts to any workout, often in just a matter of weeks. We tend to be victims of our own habit patterns in life and that includes our workouts. You might want to take advantage of it when you have new and different equipment at your disposal.
After “scoping out” the gym’s facilities, design an entirely new workout program for a change. Do something 100% different. Sometimes a simple change of exercises is enough to stimulate new progress. The club I trained at during my last trip had a full line of “Strive” machines which are not available at my hometown gym. These machines allow you to choose three different resistance curves on each exercise. Very cool.
Since I had access to this equipment, I did a totally new routine and used more machines than usual. Although most fitness experts these days generally advise you to use more free weights than machines (and I agree for the most part), using these machines was a great change up and I could feel and see the difference.
10. Walk, bike or make physical recreation part of your travel plans
Personally, as I am already in very good shape, I usually don’t count casual walking as part of my “formal” workout (cardio) program, although it certainly might count for other people.
However, it never hurts to get some extra activity and all physical activity burns calories and provides some health benefits. I’ve found that more often than not, when I am on the road, whether for business or pleasure, there are plenty of opportunities to get some physical recreation and see the sights by foot.
On a trip last year, I spent an entire afternoon hiking in the hills of a beautiful national park. On another trip, I rented a bike and rode for miles along a beachside bike path. On my recent trip, I spent an entire day walking through museums and then sightseeing.
I walked for hours. I also couldn’t help but notice other people (mostly conspicuously unfit people), tooling around outside on those stand-up scooters. Funny thing too, because right next door to the motorized scooter rental was a bike rental. Which would you choose – foot, bike, or “lazy-person’s chariot?”
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer and author of "Holy Grail Body Transformation"
For more information on how Tom's fat-burning system can help you lose fat quickly and easily... even if you've tried everything and the flab doesn't seem to budge... then click here NOW and find out how to get rid of that excess weight for good.
More From Fitstep.com
|10 Vince Gironda-Inspired Training Tips|
|High/Low Lactic Acid Training for Fat-Loss AND Strength|
|7 Simple Rules for What You Should Eat|
|Flatten Your Pooch Belly With This Easy Exercise|