Stay healthy on the road and beat post-trip gym fatigue with these easy fitness tips from travel experts—especially if you want to avoid the hotel gym.
Kayleigh Kulp 1 / 9
<p>Travel can really screw up your training routine. You’re not on a regular schedule and you don’t have access to your usual workout equipment. Even after a couple days away without exercise, you'll probably feel sluggish your first workout back—especially after eating and drinking vacation-style. But we know the last thing you want to do is hit the treadmill after an <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/travel/paid-time-off">exhausting day on a work trip</a>, or do sets of crunches on your hotel room floor during <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/travel/top-10-destinations-to-scuba-d....
So <em>Men’s Fitness</em> talked to eight travel experts for easy on-the-road tips to maintain your training. These admitted fitness fanatics practically live in airports. They know how to use exercise to boost energy, meet locals, and reduce the effects of nagging travel symptoms like jet lag. Don't let travel slow your fitness down—these quick tips can make all the difference, especially if your hotel gym is the last place you want to be.</p>
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Make a Game Plan</font></h3>
A couple of simple preparations will ground your fitness mindset for your trip. Pack gym clothes at the top of your suitcase to keep exercise as your first thought, not an afterthought. “The moment I get into my room, l instantly remember that the fitness center is right down the hall when I open my suitcase,” says John Forrest Ales, senior director of Global Brand Public Relations for Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
To beat jet lag, push through exhaustion until bedtime and maintain normal meal times. Don’t reach for unhealthy late-night snacks—this will just throw your system off and pile on calories. Instead, take advantage of <em>Request Upon Arrival</em> hotel services to preorder healthy meals. “This way, I'm not tempted to indulge when browsing a menu after a long day of travel or meetings. I allow myself one special treat each day, such as a more plentiful breakfast or dessert at dinner, but never both,” says Ales.</p>
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Walk a New Route Each Day</font></h3>
Walking beats a stuffy hotel gym and there’s no better way to take the pulse of a city, says Tom Waithe, regional director of operations for Kimpton Hotels of the Pacific Northwest. Build time into your schedule for morning walks—just a 30-minute brisk walk in the a.m. will wake up your muscles and energize you for the day. “I get up early or stay up late and walk, two, three, four miles in any direction,” he says. Ask the concierge for a free city map, suggestions for safe routes, and directions to noteworthy sites. If you have limited time, construct an itinerary on <a href="http://www.mapmywalk.com/">MapMyWalk.com</a> before arrival and ask the concierge for input. Download MapMyWalk's free Smartphone app to monitor your calories burned, time your workout, and record your distance in real time.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Rent a Bike</font></h3>
To cover more ground and see more of a city in a shorter time, rent a bike. Cycling’s low-impact cardio benefits stiff joints, gently loosening up your body from hours of sedentary travel. Bikes can also be found just about anywhere, says Mike Kelly, who commutes from New Jersey to New Hampshire, and travels frequently to Europe and Asia as CEO of On Call International. He recommends <a href="http://www.bikerentusa.com/">BikeRentUSA</a> for bike rental company referrals in nearly any state. “Some deliver the bikes to your location,” Kelly says. “We rented bikes for over 60 executives who were taking a course at Harvard for a weekend. It was a great team building event.”
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Move to Music</font></h3>
If you need to rally your energy, and cure your body of exhaustion without sleep, get dancing. Listening to <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/entertainment/music-therapy-for-pain-... target="_blank">fast-tempo music</a> you <em>like</em> pushes you to workout harder. So to score the combined effects of music and fitness (and taste the local vibe) find a strip of nightclubs. “Hitting a nightclub is a great way to get some exercise and have fun at the same time,” says John E. DiScala, founder of travel website JohnnyJet.com. “Plus, you really get a sense of the local flavor of your destination.” Ask your concierge for a list of local hot spots to work up a sweat.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Have No Shame</font></h3>
Joe Ballstaedt, CEO of Resorts West, says he takes advantage of opportunities to exercise whenever possible, even seemingly strange locations. “You may be that guy running laps around the parking lot, but fit guys don't stay fit by being timid.” If jogging around airport terminals isn’t your thing, pack a small, lightweight resistance band in your carryon to supplement simple floor exercises. Lunges, squats and crunches use body weight as resistance. They’ll keep your blood flowing and increase your heart rate—even a few sets in a quiet airport corner helps maintain your hard-earned fitness foundation.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Sign Up for a Local Run</font></h3>
Westin Global Brand Leader Brian Povinelli, a triathlete and marathon runner, recently completed the Great Wall of China 10K during a property tour in Asia. This not only gave him upfront access to see one of the World’s wonders, but also a chance to literally rub shoulders with locals. Find local runs at <a href=http://www.mapmyrun.com/">MapMyRun.com</a>, and a list of running clubs at <a href="http://www.rrca.org/find-a-running-club/">Road Runners Club of America</a>. When he stays at his employer's other hotels, he says he also utilizes the runWestin concierge service for suggestions on three and five mile routes.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Tweet for Workout Partners</font></h3>
We're serious. Workout buddies are key motivators and everybody’s on social media these days. Peter Shankman, a travel consultant, spends 75 percent of his time on the road and trains for the NYC Ironman, simultaneously. To keep his workouts interesting, he tweets when he's in a new city. “I will buy beer for anyone who takes me on a run or lets me borrow a bike,” he says. He also tweets for local places to swim. “It's a great way to meet new people.” Use Facebook, FourSquare and LinkedIn to reach out to fitness-minded friends (and friends of friends) at your destination.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Stretch from Your Seat</font></h3>
Little movements count, especially during sedentary travel. “I may not be able to always make it to the gym and get a cardio workout but there’s always time to focus on flexibility and balance,” says Hoyt Harper, senior vice president of Sheraton hotels. “[On the plane], I do dips, lunges and quad stretches in the aisle.” If aisle stretching sounds a little…er...embarrassing, use small movements to relieve travel tension, from your seat. Bend your knees to hip height, hold for 2 seconds, and lower. Place your palm on your forehead and push back as you flex your neck forward. Repeat. Stretch your Achilles tendons and calf muscles by extending your legs as far as you can under the seat in front of you for several seconds. Flex your feet upward. Repeat.