Over the past year, I have rarely missed a workout, despite being on the road for both work and fun. While I had some normalcy at home, I traveled both within the United States for work and internationally for fun.
- San Francisco, CA
- Las Vegas, NV
- Seward, AK
- Austin, TX
- San Antonio, TX
- Los Angeles, CA
- Maui, HI
Not only have I not missed a workout, but I’ve also managed to get in the best shape of my life over that time frame. I turned 35 this year and managed to be stronger and leaner than I have ever been. Due to my work travel, that means my workouts and my meals have to be flexible and I have to get creative sometimes.
I’ve always been an active person, and have been going to the gym since I was 16. However, it wasn’t until about 2006 that I became a fitness addict. When I became bored training by myself, I started pilates, then transitioned to kickboxing, and when I needed more, I joined Crossfit. Joining Crossfit was truly a life changing experience for me. First, about two months in, I met my now husband. Second, I discovered my love for olympic lifting. When traveling, working out not only gives me a place to burn off a few extra calories, but it often times keeps me sane. For those of us who are constantly on the road, there are a lot of stressors, but it also brings a sense of normalcy. For me, since I am a competitive olympic lifter, if I don’t work out, I also lose technique AND my strength.
I am proof that it is absolutely possible to make great progress while traveling. Over the past year, even with all my travels, I have had massive strength gains in all areas of lifting. Front squats, back squats, presses, and both my snatch and clean & jerk ALL went up!
If you happen to be a road warrior, or travel junkie, and/or spend more time in an airport than an office, I’ve got you covered!
The challenge with getting fit on the road is often due to not having the right mental attitude before the trip even starts. It’s not due to a gym, or no options for healthy eating, but because your head is not in the right mindset.
I stopped telling myself that missing workouts and making bad decisions was inevitable, and instead decided that getting fit was inevitable, no matter my location.
So, before you even set foot on a plane, or before you get into your car, you need to level up your mental game:
1) Commit. Every year, I know I’m going to be traveling like crazy. Most people tell themselves “I don’t have time to exercise.” However, it’s rare that I miss a workout. How? By telling myself that I WOULD NOT MISS A WORKOUT!
I’m not a morning person, so often times I have worked out very late at night, or cram a workout in halfway through the day. There is always time to get in a workout, even if it’s climbing stairs or just going to the hotel gym and using the free weights and elliptical. I’m not a runner, but runners have an added bonus of being able to get a run in anywhere!
2) Make exercise the one constant. I’ve made exercise into my constant when my life gets busy and I’m finding myself in a new environment, exercise is the constant in my life that keeps me grounded.
3) Never miss more than one workout in a row. I realize we all have busy lives, and things happen, but I’ve added this rule to my life that has kept me on track despite a hectic lifestyle.
When you are exhausted and have very little time, it’s easy to sit back and relax, taking the easy way out. As many of you know, the more workouts you miss and the longer you stay away, the harder it gets to go back.
So, when I’m traveling, I NEVER miss two workouts in a row.
If I was supposed to work out on Monday but due to travel had to skip it, I would make that my rest day and work out on what would be my normal rest day. If I overindulged at one meal, then my NEXT meal has to be healthy. Thankfully, my programming helps to keep me on track. If I don’t eat well, I don’t feel well and my workouts suffer. If I miss workouts, everything suffers. It’s much easier to stick to the program.
When you get ready for a trip, you probably go through a checklist. There’s one thing that might get left out: your plan for fitting in fitness!
I put my workouts into my calendar, with alerts set to remind me on the days and times I need to exercise. This one action definitely increases my probability of exercising.
I do the best I can to plan ahead on my meals. I have a fear of being hungry, so full disclosure, I always have snacks on hand. If I know I’m going to be spending all day in an airport, I see if there’s a way I can bring a healthy snack along with me,so that I can get the proper nutrition and am not forced into unhealthy decisions. I always have a shaker bottle and water in my bag too so I can drink a meal replacement shake and get my proper mix of protein, carbs and fats. For other snacks, I bring almonds, protein bars and some all natural fruit strips.
Something is better than nothing. Sometimes, your schedule can get so hectic that there’s only a short amount of time to work out. Get what you can in. If it’s only a warm up, a set of squats, presses, then it’s better than nothing!
If you only have time to do push-ups and sit ups in your hotel room, do push ups in your hotel room.
Planning ahead requires work. Planning ahead also puts you in a much better position to succeed.
Now that we’ve taken care of the mental aspect of travel, it’s time to dig into the logistics.
Locate your “gym”
Despite spending a lot of time on the road and in hotels, it’s rare that I use the hotel gym.
Let’s face it, most hotel gyms are terrible. They generally are the size of a small broom closet, have too many cardio machines, treadmills/ellipticals take your pick, and a small set of free weights and non-functioning work-out machines. It’s my version of a workout hell.
I enjoy getting out of the hotel and meeting new people. I’ve met a ton of friends while on the road. Plus, it’s also nice to have a friendly face recognize you when you come back to that city for work. You do have a few options available to you.
1) Find an actual gym. A simple google search will reveal actual gyms in the area that you’re staying. I guarantee there is a Globo-gym or in my case, a local Crossfit box that will have the actual equipment you need (for me, it’s barbells with weights I can drop while training my olympic lifts along with getting some squats and presses in). I usually email the owner before hand to ensure it’s ok for me to drop in and open gym times. Sometimes the hotels even partner with local Globo-gyms.
While there is a drop in fee, making this the most expensive option, if you have room in your budget and this is something you can spend extra money on, this is my favorite option. It is definitely a lot easier to stay in a routine when you can replicate your home workout situation.
2) Use the hotel gym. While planning for my trips, if I can’t find a suitable gym, which is rare, I’ll contact the hotel or check out the hotel online and see pictures of their gym – if they have dumbbells then I know I can at least cover the basics and get a workout in. It’s not optimal, but you can get pretty darn close to normal if you’re creative and plan properly!
3) Do a hotel room workout. This is the worst. Days are so long when you are running from meeting to meeting, have dinners after, and pretty soon it’s 10pm. Hotel gym sucks? No gym near you or it’s past open gym? Do a hotel room work out!
- Handstand push-ups
- Squats or lunges
- Push-up variations
- Rows on the desk
- Dips on the desk or bed
20 minutes and your covered.
With ONE of these options above, you literally have no reason why you cannot complete a workout while traveling.
Now, the REAL reason why exercising is so important isn’t just because it helps build muscle, make you stronger, and keep you healthier – it also helps ensure that the calories you consume are going towards building muscle and not getting stored as fat. I know that if I didn’t work out, my fat percentage would be a heck of a lot higher.
Also, how we eat is 80-90% of the battle, whether we’re trying to lose weight or if we’re looking to get bigger and stronger, and by exercising every day we always keep thinking healthy. Energy increases, endorphins increase, decreases stress, and everybody is happy!
Now, no excuses!
It comes down to three key things:
1) Priorities – staying healthy and getting stronger can happen on the road, but it must be front and center in your mind. It needs to be a priority. Making healthy eating decisions is a choice. Going to the gym is a choice. Make good choices and no more excuses.
2) Plan ahead – know where you’re going to work out, how you’re going to get there, and when. Put your workout in your calendar!
3) Never miss two in a row – Don’t let one mistake become two.
Have you found a way to be happy and healthy while traveling?
I would love to hear it! Leave a comment below and help out your fellow road warriors.
Follow me on Pinterest: