The most important part about staying in shape while traveling is packing work out clothes.
When you have a chance to exercise, the excuse “I don’t have my sneakers and a pair of shorts” stops way too many people before they even get started.
I know, space is limited when you pack. But you can find the room. Instead of bringing a couple extra dresses or a couple extra shirts that you’re not going to need, throw in what you need to stay in shape.
Stress from spending time in airports and in planes, at rental car counters and in train stations, combined with bad food and sitting around, makes exercise even more essential. Your body is begging you to move. Doing so can make your entire trip more enjoyable. You’ll get rid of stress, burn calories and release those feel-good endorphins. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you will have more energy at that meeting, or feel even happier at the beach.
In many cases, if you are staying at a hotel, they will offer a gym. Use it.
Another option, if you are able to buy it, is resistance tubing. This is a great tool because it is easy to travel with, and it is extremely versatile.
But if there is no gym in your hotel, or you are in a location or climate where running and lifting weights is not an option, there are plenty of things you can do with your own body resistance. I designed a program while on the road myself, complete with photos of how to do the exercises.
1) Warm-up. Start with a simple march, then jog in place for a minute. Move to a step-touch while lifting arms to the sides. Add an alternating hamstring curl and biceps curl with both arms. Then finish up the 5 minute warm-up with light jumping jacks.
2) Push-ups with a glute raise.
I like to do push-ups while the arms are still fresh. Start with regular style or add a multi-tasking move by lowering to the knees and adding lower body sculpting. After the first modified push-up raise your right foot to the ceiling. Repeat 10 times on the right side after each push-up and then 10 times on the left side. You’ve just worked your pecs, triceps, core and glutes!
3) Low leg low ab crunch. Next, lay on your back and straighten your legs 80 percent straight, knees together and feet on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and crunch up for 50. Be sure to keep your eyes on the ceiling, knees together, neck long and chin lifted.
4) Cardio interval. Jump rope (pretend to hold the rope and swing it for extra biceps work) for 1 minute or count to 100. Alternate from one leg at a time to feet together and hopping. Maybe hop twice on one leg at a time. Have fun with it. For all cardio intervals in this workout, march in place for at least 20 seconds afterwards to get your heart rate back down to a comfortable level.
5) Triceps dips. Sit on a bench, footstool or chair with your hands at your sides and palms on the bench knuckles up and fingertips curling around towards the floor. Lift yourself off the bench and slightly forward. Lower your backside toward the floor while bending your elbows at 90 degrees. Finish the move by pushing back up so elbows extend again. You can make this more difficult by straightening the legs or lifting one leg off the floor.
6) Inner thighs. Lie on your right side on your right elbow and right hip. Bend your left knee to place the left foot in front of your straight right leg. Be sure to keep the right foot parallel to the floor and lift the right leg 30 times. Repeat on the other side. Next lie on your back with your legs extended over your ribcage. Turn the toes out and flex the feet. Begin to open and lower the legs to the sides, away from one another. To finish the move, bring the heels back together. To intensify, only bring heels in halfway and press against your inner thighs with your hands for a true “thigh master” resistance move. Repeat step one on the left elbow and hip.
7) Cardio. Stand up and do 20 jumping jacks with the right foot in front, 20 with the left foot in front and 20 alternating and crossing feet.
8) Outer thighs. Now lie again on your right side, propped up on the elbow. Bend the right leg and keep the left straight as you lift it for 50 reps. Again, be sure the flexed foot is parallel to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
9) Planks. Alternate from a middle plank (looks like a freeze frame of the top of a push-up, shoulders, hips and ankles in a diagonal but straight line) to a side plank and hold each for a count of 10 seconds. middle, right, middle, left equals one repetition. Complete 5 repetitions.
10) Jump rope for a minute again, using different leg combinations.
11) Alternate forward lunges landing heel then toe. Be sure to step far enough in front of you that your front knee does not pass the toes, and stays directly above the ankle. Right and left equals one repetition. Do 12 front and then 12 alternating back lunges for the quads and glutes.
12) Plank push-ups. Get back into a plank position and this time alternate a full push-up with a 10 second right side plank and another push-up with a left side plank. That equals one repetition. Do 10 of these (20 push-ups in all).
13) Jumping jack cardio interval for 1–2 minutes.
14) Glute raises. Lay on your back with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Lift hips up and squeeze the glutes while pressing through your heels. Lower hips back to the floor for one repetition. This is called a bridge. To make this a more intense workout, lift the right leg to the ceiling and keep it there, only pushing through left ankle for the first 30 reps and then switch legs.
15) External oblique side crunches. Lay on your back with shoulders flat on the floor and hands behind the head. Bend your knees and drop them off to the right side. Move the knees up to hip level so the body forms the letter “L” from knees to hips to head. Crunch the chest to the ceiling for 40 each side. Repeat on the left. I will show the more intense version of this in my next column as well.
16) Do a cardio interval again with one minute of jumping rope. (For different and more intense cardio intervals, visit nikkifitness.com for demos. You’ll find them on the 30 minute Military Wife Workout DVD. It’s convenient to play on a laptop or in your guest room and you can buy weights that fill with water and then empty for light packing.)
17) Internal obliques. Lay on your back again and put your hands behind your head for support. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Focus on lifting the right shoulder, not the elbow (we want to keep the chin lifted and neck long while looking at the ceiling) to the left knee. Bring the left knee in toward the right shoulder at the same time. Release back to the floor for one rep. Do 30 on the same side and then switch to the other elbow and knee combo for another set. I will include a more challenging version of this from my DVD in my next column as well.
18) Upper and lower back. We worked the abdominals quite a bit, so now it’s time to work the opposing muscles in the back. Lay face down with arms long and extended out at shoulder level, forming a “T” with your body. Lift the head, chest, shoulders, hands, legs and feet off the floor. Lower down and repeat the move 20 times.
19) Final cardio interval of Jacks, and jogging for 2 minutes.
20) Do a 5 minute cool down with the same moves in the warm up and then stretch your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, glutes, triceps, pectorals, trapezious and rhomboids (upper back), and lower back with standing rolls or cat/cow.
Remember to drink a lot of water, and maybe treat yourself to a new exercise outfit as a souvenir to celebrate your healthy habits on the road.
Fitness, Fit it in.