While On The Road
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Martin of Decatur, Georgia is this month's Fitness Makeover. She brought up a
great question that has not been answered in this column before: how to arrange
an effective workout routine around a busy travel schedule.
Kristinas job requires her to be away from
home anywhere from one to three nights a week, and up to 26 weeks a year on any
given project. As such, she has found it difficult to build a program that she
can maintain consistently to achieve her fitness goals.
A former competitive swimmer and recreational
runner, Kristina is determined to stay fit and "win the fight against gravity,"
as she writes that she has gained 15 pounds since starting her travel-heavy job
three years ago.
"While no one would look at me and say that I am
fat," she explains, "I definitely would like to lose the extra weight and tone
up I dont want my nice swimming triceps to turn into flabby
In addition, Kristina admits that she finds it
hard to stay in a routine because she gets bored so she enjoys breaking
from it (perhaps the years dedicated to swim practice twice a day have made her
yearn for a more flexible and easygoing approach to fitness).
"I tell myself its good to take a break and
skip a workout because growing up I never missed a swim practice. I think of it
as keeping me balanced and I feel more normal, rather than obsessive, about
Obsession is certainly not healthy in the long
run, but I have always believed that a happy athlete is one who never missed a
workout because she enjoyed and looked forward to each days
Kristina should ask herself why she works out, and
write down the list of ways that exercise improves her quality of life. Then,
whenever she is tempted to skip a day, she can read the list and remind herself
why she's doing it (and enjoying it) in the first place.
While skipping occasional days is important for
recovery, it seems that Kristinas work schedule ensures that she misses
days anyway (whether shed like to or not). So I am going to propose that
she attempt to work out every day, and allow herself days off only when
she cant find time to train because of her job. The trick will be to find her
things to do that she can look forward to and enjoy without wanting to skip a
day unless she absolutely has to.
So how does Kristina find a happy medium between
having a workout routine that is fun, interesting, and challenging, yet one
that is also adaptable enough to take on the road?
To begin, I am going to recommend running at least
three times a week, or every other day. Running is a surefire way to lose
weight (especially when combined with healthy eating habits) and a great
cardiovascular exercise. In Kristinas case, jogging is convenient because
it requires little more than a pair of decent running shoes that can be packed
into a suitcase and taken on the road.
One of my favorite things to do when traveling to
a foreign city is going for a run in the streets moments after I settle into my
hotel room. Not only does this stretch out my travel-weary muscles and release
endorphins that fight jet lag, but it allows me to get my bearings in an
unfamiliar city a place that I may need to navigate through later on in
Having recently been to London and Cannes, France
(a first for me in both cases), I relied on my "orientation run" as the basis
for my subsequent daily travels. I was happy to take note of simple necessities
such as banks, subway stations, and convenience stores that came in handy later
all while completing a brief rejuvenating workout.
Helping Kristinas cause is the fact that she
enjoys running with her dog Maggie, a definite motivator in her quest for
cardiovascular supremacy. Many people dont realize how easy it is to get
exercise with their dogs, and how the benefits are twofold. While solo jogging
can get dull, a run or fast hike with a canine companion can be a lot of fun.
Take care to build up your pets endurance
levels before attempting frequent workouts together, and make sure not to have
your dog run on pavement over long periods of time as it is potentially
devastating to their paws (remember, they dont wear Nikes!). Not only
will you stay fit, but youll have a dog worthy of a Best in Show
Kristina is no stranger to organized workouts, and
she is a member of the well-known Dynamo Masters swim program in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, because she travels so much, she never knows how often she can
get to the pool. And while hotels usually have pools, they are not the kind
conducive to swimming laps.
One alternative to conventional fitness training
for travelers is fitness VHS tapes and DVDs. Long thought to be relics of the
Jane Fonda-fueled '80s aerobics craze, exercise tapes have exploded in recent
years as new forms of conditioning have come into vogue.
At the forefront of this renaissance is yoga, and
many video stores have entire sections dedicated to this popular exercise,
ranging from introductory instructional videos to super-advanced courses.
Warner Home Video recently launched a line of yoga
tapes by famed yogi-to-the-stars Ganga White called the "Flow Series." A
three-part set, (beginner, intermediate, advanced), the compilation is a great
foray into the world of yoga and its benefits.
If yoga is too New Age-y for you, there are other
options available in the exercise-video marketplace. Kickboxing, Tae-Bo,
karate, aerobics, Pilates, abdominal training, its all available and
quite convenient if youre a frequent traveler.
While lugging VHS tapes in your suitcase may not
be the answer (remember, many hotels do not offer VCRs in their rooms),
laptop-compatible fitness DVDs are now available. You also can teach
yourself whats on the tapes and then do the workouts in your hotel room,
To combat those potentially flabby arms, Kristina
should try and incorporate some strength training into her weekly schedule.
While she doesnt much care for weights, she should be open-minded about
doing light dumbbell and Nautilus-type exercises once or twice a week for
Besides, most hotels have small gyms equipped with
weights, so Kristina would be wise to take advantage of them. Doing just three
or four different upper-body exercises (three sets of each, 10 reps) will help
Kristina maintain the toned arms that she would like.
Kristina should definitely invest in a set of
"bands." Also known as surgical tubing, bands are an easy and convenient
way to maintain muscle tone. Lightweight and easily rolled up into a shaving
kit or cosmetics bag, bands provide resistance training that can be done just
The exercises one can do are too numerous to
mention here, but a trainer or physical therapist can inform you of the
benefits and proper techniques to band training.
Granted, some of the ideas above may seem to
require more discipline than Kristina is ready to commit to. But my suggestions
are meant to stimulate her into a varied routine that can change each and every
day according to her moods, what she feels like doing, and of course, where she
happens to be in the world.
Unlike training for a triathlon (which requires
discipline in three specific sports and unwavering commitment), the suggestions
above are meant to inspire those of us who cant devote a huge part of
lives to heavy-duty training (as much as we may want to).
For those looking to stay fit and maintain their
ideal body weight and muscle tone, there are multiple ways to do so without
being repetitious. It just takes a few creative ideas and the willingness to
think and train outside of the box!
If you are interested in being the subject of a
Fitness Makeover, please e-mail
your questions to Alex, and include a phone number where you can be reached
upon your selection.