Are you a road warrior and struggle to keep up your fitness routine while en route? Do you tell yourself “I just don’t have the time.”? Or “My hotel doesn’t have a gym so I can’t work out.”?
Well, it’s time you stop lying and making excuses to yourself. The truth is you CAN make time for exercise and you CAN do a full workout without access to a gym. The same goes for eating healthy on the road, as some of you might recall from my previous article on “How to Eat Healthy on the Road”. It’s all possible. You just have commit to it. In this post, I will provide some helpful hints on how you can make time to keep fit and work out even if you do not have access to traditional exercise equipment.
HOW TO MAKE TIME TO EXERCISE:
Wake Up Earlier in the Morning
Assuming you don’t have to hit the road really early (and by really early, I mean before 6am), in my opinion, this is the best time to work out. Working out in the morning has several benefits including but not limited to:
- Waking you up!
- Increasing your energy level and metabolism throughout the day.
- Give you a great excuse to have a full, healthy breakfast before you hit the road. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skimp!
- Forcing you to go to bed earlier which will reduce the amount of snacking and alcohol consumption you may otherwise do in the evenings.
Fit in Workouts in Between Meetings
When you’re in and out of sales calls all day long, you spend the majority of your day sitting, be it in the car or a client’s office. If you have the time in between meetings, the best thing you can do is go for a walk! I say walk, not jog because you’ll be dressed in business attire and won’t want to break a sweat before that next meeting.
WHERE can you walk?
If it is nice outside, take a stroll in a park, side street or sidewalk in town.
If the weather is poor or too cold, find a shopping mall and take a long brisk walk (without stopping to shop of course!).
If you have more time (>1h), try to squeeze in one of my “Car Workouts” in this article.
After Work: Skip the Snack and Workout Instead
This is another great option which you can do as soon as you get settled into your hotel and before you eat dinner. Some benefits include:
- Relieving stress from a hard day on the road
- Curbing your appetite. Skip that sugary snack or drink upon your arrival to your hotel room, work out instead. Then afterwards so you can load up on a healthy, high protein dinner with lots of veggies. This may also curb your temptation to snack late at night.
- Providing that last burst of energy to get you through those daily reports and emails after dinner.
- Improved sleep (as long as you exercise at least 3 hours before going to bed).
So now that you’ve figured out WHEN you can exercise, WHAT are you going to do for exercise and HOW?
HOW TO PLAN A WORKOUT IN ANY ENVIRONMENT
When you arrive at your hotel, take a few minutes to check out what facilities are available to you. Typically you will either have access to a
- Full gym, equipped with cardio machines and weights
- Partial gym, equipped with cardio equipment only OR
- No gym
If you’re lucky, you will have access to a fully equipped gym and will be able to do your usual or scheduled workout routine. Unfortunately, most hotels do not offer this, so you will likely have to do a bit of work to plan your workout.
When you visit the fitness facility in your hotel, bring a small piece of paper and a pen with you (or the notepad in your phone) and make an inventory of the equipment. Next to each piece of equipment make note of the different exercises that you can do. If you have been working out regularly in the days prior, simply continue with your regular scheduled exercise regimen. On the other hand, if you have been off for a few days, try to do a full body workout and/or work out as many muscle groups as possible. When you’re ready to do your workout, take your note with you to the gym to keep you on track.
In the event that you don’t have access to any weights or exercise equipment, I would recommend trying one of the following workouts I’ve developed with the assistance of my personal trainer.
Tip: If you have access to a treadmill, try to squeeze in some cardio after your workout as this will reduce the amount of lactic acid (a compound that causes muscle cramping) in your bloodstream.
No treadmill? No problem! If you can get outside to walk or jog, great! If not, most hotels have stairs so try going up and down a few flights to get your cardio in!
The Hotel Room Workout:
Below is a list of suggestions for various exercises that you can do to target certain muscle groups. All of these exercises can be done in a basic hotel room with no equipment:
Legs: Squats, Lunges, Step-ups (using a table or chair in your room)
Abs: Put a sheet or towel on the floor. Use the base of the bed frame or air conditioner to position your feet under to keep stable and crunch, crunch, crunch away! There are so many ab exercises you can do. Try a plank position as well.
Chest: Push-ups (on the floor or against a desk, table or bed)
Triceps: Triceps dips on any window ledge, counter or solid surface.
The Car Workout:
I will forewarn you that you must not be too shy or embarrass easily to do this one. This workout is great if you have time between appointments and/or you find yourself “homeless” at some point in your travels. By “homeless” I’m referring to the time in between when you have to check out of a hotel and can check into your next hotel. I have categorized each exercise by target muscle groups.
What you will need:
- Weights (optional): If you’re travelling in your own car, take them from home. If you’re away from home and have a rental, try buying some containers of cat litter that have a handle. They are heavy, cheap and could be used to assist you with traction in the event your vehicle gets stuck in snow, ice or mud. If you don’t have those, try the move in the image above (pull-ups using the coat hanger handles in the back seat of your car)
- Running Shoes
Warm-up: Try a 5 minute walk, jog (on the spot, around the car) or jumping jacks
Triceps: Open your trunk and face away from the car. Do triceps dips on the lip of the trunk (making sure to keep the palms of your hands placed firmly on the lip of the trunk and fingers facing forward).
Chest: Push-ups either against the open car trunk lip or on the ground
Legs: Squats, Lunges (stationary or walking lunges around the vehicle), Step-ups onto the open trunk lip (only if you have good balance!)
Abs: Sitting on the open lip of the trunk and your hands placed firmly on both sides, fully extend your legs, hold them in place for as long as you can, then contract your legs and repeat.
Biceps: Bicep curls using the containers of cat litter OR if you’re really ambitious, inside your car position yourself in the middle of your car and do pull-ups using the coat hangers in your rear seats like in the above image which will work your chest as well.
Think you’re going to look ridiculous doing those things? All I’m going to say is “Suck it Up Princess! And Just Do it!”
People do Tai Chi in the park all the time. Do they look stupid?..
If you find yourself struggling with devising an exercise routine or keeping motivated while you’re on the road, and don’t have a personal trainer to assist you, you should look into companies such as Business Travel Life, which is founded by fitness enthusiast, consultant and former road warrior Kristina Portillo. Business Travel Life can provide you with workouts customized to meet your unique fitness goals while accommodating your travel schedule. They will even provide personal training via video conferencing which you can do from the comfort of your hotel room. It is an excellent service that I would highly recommend if you are the type of person that needs that extra “push” to stick to your fitness goals.
If you enjoyed these tips, you may aIso be interested in a guidebook I am currently working on, “A Road Warriors Guide to Eating Healthy and Keeping Fit on the Road” which I hope to have available in print within the next year. Be sure to subscribe to my blog be notified when it becomes available, as well as for new travel and sales tips which are posted every Thursday.
In the meantime my fellow road warriors, “Keep fit and have fun!”.
p.s. I hope at least one person got that reference!