The weather is warm, the days are long, school’s out and you’ve booked your tropical family vacation. Next stop: the beach, with a mai tai in hand. But with summer travel comes a dilemma: How do you stay on track with your fitness when delicious food, drink and lazy hours lying in the sun beckon?
Or maybe you travel frequently for work, and between jet lag, long meetings and delayed flights, you can’t even begin to figure out how to stick to a workout schedule while traveling.
We asked 24 Hour Fitness personal trainer Mark Slavens his tips for sticking to your fitness routine while traveling, how to get back on track after vacation and more. Here’s what he had to say.
Healthy travel strategies
Staying on track while traveling can be a challenge; with all the food and festivities, it’s easy to go off the deep end! While I want my clients to relax and enjoy themselves, I don’t want them overcome with guilt if they overdo it, so having a plan in place before they leave is important. Here are a few of the strategies that I employ:
- Know your food options before you arrive at your vacation destination and resolve to “stay the course” for at least 80 percent of your meals. By following the 80/20 rule, you can have fun but not sabotage your fitness.
- Make sure to involve some activity in your vacation. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a “workout”—it can be hiking, biking, walking tours and so on. Staying active will help burn off the extra calories from rich food and alcohol.
- If I have clients who are particularly concerned about falling off track, I will send them a daily “encourager” via text to let them know that they have what it takes to make good choices.
- Before my clients leave, I will emphasize the progress they have made and reinforce the fact that one or two weeks of “going nuts” can negate much of their gains.
Benefits of working out while traveling
In addition to staying fit, I tell my clients the following benefits of exercising while on vacation:
- The mental game. We as humans tend to enjoy life more when we aren’t feeling guilty. Maintaining a fitness regimen while on vacation can enhance the satisfaction you experience while on vacation by negating the guilt you might feel if you don’t exercise.
- Exercise improves sleep, immune system function, digestion and mood. All these things help make for a more relaxing and enjoyable experience!
- At some vacation destinations (large cities, mountain areas), the more you are willing to move, the more you can see and experience. Whether it be a walking tour or renting bikes and kayaks, it’s fun to see more and varied terrain when you are on the go!
Go-to body-weight travel workout
When my clients are away from home on vacation or a work assignment and may have little equipment to work with, I suggest a program including the following moves:
- Quadruped Arm Opposite Leg Raise (Bird Dog)
- Side Bridge
- Triceps Dip (if a bench or chair is available)
- Single-Leg Deadlift
Perform 12 reps of all movements back-to-back with little rest in between. Repeat the workout two to three times.
Getting back on track after traveling
When I have a client who does not heed the 80/20 rule while on vacation and completely goes off the rails, reacclimating to the program can be a challenge. Here are a few keys to getting back on track:
- Don’t wallow in guilt! Get back into a healthy routine as soon as possible.
- Start slow and build up. Some people want to jump right back in where they left off. Sometimes that works, but others are just setting themselves up for injury.
- Getting measurements and weight immediately is a must, and they must know the facts about where they are and how far away the goal has become.
Mark Slavens has been a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness for 19 years. Slavens is a certified personal trainer through NASM and ACE, and his certifications include corrective exercise specialist and golf fitness specialist. He also holds a biomechanics certification through Cooper Institute. Slavens has trained nearly 28,000 personal training sessions in his time with 24 Hour Fitness, and he works at the Plano Super Sport club in Plano, Texas.
Photo credit: Jens Kreuter, Unsplash; Courtesy of Mark Slavens