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How to work out when travelling

  • 5 min read

So you’ve worked super hard on your fitness goals home, sticking rigorously to your training programme, and you’ve started to really see the results you’ve been striving for. Yet you’re stuck worrying about that much needed holiday you’ve been longing, afraid you’re going to lose all that progress you’ve been working so hard towards. What if there is no gym?! What if I can only find 10-15 minutes here and there away from the family? What if I can only pack a small bag of hand luggage and the 10kg dumbbells won’t quite fit alongside the swimwear!

Panic not my friends… Everything will be okay!

First and foremost, holidays are about relaxing, pressing pause on the stresses of life and stepping away from all the obligations of our daily lives. If the very thought of exercising on your holiday fills you with dread, then that is evidence enough that it would be for the wrong reasons, and you should allow yourself a break. If you’ve trained consistently and effectively, then a planned break from exercise is one of the most physiologically beneficial things you can do; a rare chance for your muscles to replenish and respond to what they’ve endured, not to mention your brain too! In fact, it’s actually when we rest our bodies, rather than when we train hard, that we make the muscular gains we’re working for. If you are someone who’s looking forward to exercising when you’re away for your emotional well being, then no gym.. no problem! There is a huge range of options for you to exercise whilst traveling that can cater to any range of fitness goals. If anything, you may find that changing up your regular routine might actually benefit you in the long run. Honestly!…

Traveling Does Not Mean You Will Lose your progress

Understandably, traveling and exercising can be a difficult balance - The uncertainties of how you can adapt your training in a new and foreign place can be a minefield. My first piece of advice, is to forget about your usual routine and accept that what you do on holiday will be different, and this is absolutely ok.

Let me promise you, neither your new found Hulk-like super strength, nor your Mo Farrah marathon time, will vanish in the space of one holiday. Studies show your fitness begins to decline (very slowly, not suddenly evaporating) in about four weeks for weights and about two for cardio, and this is assuming you do absolutely nothing except drink cocktails by the pool from dusk til’ dawn. Plus, if you’ve been training for a long time, it may take even more time than that.

Let’s get rid of the all or nothing mindset – it is entirely possible to travel and work out consistently, without a gym, and keep everything ticking over. I’ve been there, done it, and I often feel even better in myself on my return, my body thankful for changing up my routine.

Here’s some ideas which work no matter where you’re going, and are hand luggage friendly!

Walk, cycle or run to explore

Working out does not always have to mean an early alarm and being shackled to the hotel gym before breakfast. Holiday is a rest for both body and mind. I see so many of my clients in a toxic battle of increasing their exercise tenfold leading up to a holiday, then doing nothing when they’re away, feeling guilty and overcompensating again when they’re home. Let’s reframe what ‘counts’ as a workout – any form of movement which is enjoyable, does count! Exploring your holiday destination by foot, sightseeing, or cycling to lunch or dinner is an easy ‘workout’ if you enjoy it! As long as you find a pace which increases your heart rate, it’s cardio!

Use Bodyweight, bands and skipping ropes

Bodyweight workouts are an obvious go-to when traveling, and can without a doubt challenge your muscles enough to maintain your strength progress until you’re back in the gym. However, we can do even better… This is where resistance bands come in, offering one of the most effective ways to get a whole body workout in anywhere, at any time. Banded workouts can give your body a much-needed breather from weights, whilst loading the muscles in a unique way. Unlike weights, bands provide progressive resistance, meaning the weight increases during the concentric portion of the move, forcing the muscles to adapt in a different way to a usual strength session alone. They are light and portable, so can be packed easily, and can be used by anyone, whether you are a fitness veteran or a beginner. This means you can rope whoever you’re on holiday with in with you, even if they are new to exercise. Speaking of rope…. The simple skipping rope, both cost effective and space-savvy, can burn more than 10 calories a minute whilst working your legs, glutes, shoulders, and arms - a fun and easy way to fit in a quick cardio session when you’re on the go; just toss it in your carry-on bag, and give it ten minutes of your day – trust me, ten minutes is enough! Skipping is one of the most efficient forms of exercise we have, with one study in Research Quarterly For Exercise And Sport reporting that 10 minutes of daily skipping delivered the same benefits over six weeks as jogging daily for 30 minutes.

Swim

Whether it’s morning laps of the hotel pool or a day at the beach, there's one form of exercise that's the perfect holiday workout - swimming! When the sun is shining, swimming is the best workout you could hope for - it gives you a full-body workout, gets those endorphins flowing around your body and it cools you off too. Just because you’re having fun, it doesn’t feel like a savage HIIT class leaving you in a sweaty heap on the gym floor, does not mean it wasn’t a beneficial workout.

Virtual Workouts

Even a small hotel room can cater to a virtual workout, which is a long lasting silver lining of the dreaded pandemic lockdowns. If you’re a member of a gym, chances are they offer a virtual platform with at home options you can access from your mobile phone when away. Third Space London have everything from 15 minute mobility and yoga flows, to 45 minute bodyweight HIIT classes and everything in between. No gym membership? There are plenty of workouts on YouTube that are paced really well and don’t require much space.

Who knows.. you may even return from your holiday having discovered new forms of movement you never even knew you enjoyed, which you add to your workout routine even when you’re back to the grind!