Traveling and “fitness”
I follow a lot of other blogs, groups on facebook and instagram accounts that have all brought up the matter of staying “in shape” whilst traveling (sorry I really just wanted to say “whilst”). I have SO much to say on this matter…. But I suppose a bit of background on fitness would be a good start.
I have my NASM (personal training certification in the U.S.) and Crossfit L-1 cert. I played soccer since I was 5 (again I’m 29), been on swim teams and played SO many other sports. I was an active kid to say the least. And I still am very active (I mean really…. I’m not 90 yet). I went through a phase of hardcore fitness. What do I mean when I say hardcore? I mean I sincerely thought about giving up the normal 9-5 and trying my hand at being an insta-fitness guru. I wanted and probably spend more time at the gym than work or anything else.
When I first got in the “insta” game, I joined specially to follow a friend who was starting her crossfit journey in New York (and subsequently quit her fancy job to be a full time trainer- and she’s doing FABULOUS). That spawned my desire to see if I could replicate her results in some way. Up until this point, I had been working out at a gym with a trainer mostly doing weightlifting, which was great because after 20 years of running miles and miles up and down a soccer pitch, I despise cardio. I also supplemented those 3x a week sessions with barre, pilates, hot yoga, spin classes and joined a crossfit gym as well. I was probably working out up to 6 times a week, at least an hour a day. The results were great. I was emphatically in the best shape ever.
But then I got a new job, I couldn’t find a closer gym I liked and I got a really nasty cold that turned into pneumonia. So in a span of about two months, with traveling, not watching what I ate and being unable to work out due to sickness, I undid what took me close to a year to achieve. And that fucking pissed me off! This was back in 2013. In 2014 I tried to get back into everything but I broke my foot while moving and traveled more than ever. Clearly getting my shit back together was going to be harder than I thought.
It’s now 2015, I still work for the same company but I’ve made some adjustments to my life here at home, as well as to my life when I’m on the road. Here at home, I have built a gym in what should be the “dining room” of my apartment comprised of a squat rack, some kettlebells and those exercise bands. I’m sure my downstairs neighbor loves hearing weights above her. I also recently bought a bike. There are my weights and cardio. When I travel I have a much less expensive versions of a TRX trainer (called a WOSS, you can find on amazon if you’d like) and do simple body weight exercises when I have the time.
Working and traveling and trying to stay in shape is easy for some. For me, it’s just not. For instance, I recently found out that the president of my company will only stay at hotels with gyms when he travels. I’m not that picky… I don’t take the time to plan stuff like that. So my food intake is most likely sub-par and working out isn’t a priority.
And reflecting back on all my stages of fitness and athletic activity I’ve realized one HUGE thing, and it is that looking good in the mirror is NOT the most important factor to me. At least not anymore. What is important to me now is to be healthy and in good enough shape to do all the things I want. Like getting my PADI cert to SUP to surfing to hiking to like a million things more. None of these activities requires me to be able to lift an enormous amount of weight nor go anywhere at great speed. For me, and I cannot speak for everyone here, I just need to not feel like I’m going to die or be constantly out of breath or worst of all, be in danger due to my lack of fitness.
Some people view fitness as a reflection, usually literally a reflection, on how they appear in the mirror. I, too, used to base my fitness on this but those days are past. Yes I want to remain active for many reasons, but the least of which is my outward appearance. I’d much rather have fun doing it than beat myself up for hours at a gym. So lately I’ve been using the term “accidental exercise” referring to physical activity that is enjoyable and doesn’t feel like I’ve sold my soul to get a perfect body. In my mind, accidental exercise is biking, hiking, swimming, SUP, surfing, playing sports. Accidental Exercise is basically anything you enjoy that gets you moving.
And I also know that when I’m traveling, I will be walking exponentially more than I do any day at the office. On average based on the trips I’ve taken in the last two years, I walk 10 miles a day while traveling as opposed to the one mile a day when I’m in the office. And 90% of those 10 miles are out of pure necessity like to get to a metro/tube/subway entrance. The rest of it comes along with taking the time out to explore the city I happen to be in.
So instead of asking how you can or should stay fit while traveling you just be smart. If you are on vacation or traveling for work, you will find good food somewhere. Eat it. Don’t gorge, but enjoy yourself, but when possible try to offset whatever you’ve eaten with some activity, even if it’s just walking a TON! Sounds like pretty basic advice, right? That’s because it is. It’s the same advice any trainer (including myself), nutritionist or doctor would give you. A trip should be remembered by what you got to do, not what you stopped yourself from doing…..