In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of getting fit for vacation—either using your own program or working with your personal trainer. Now we turn to staying fit on vacation. While many people look to time away from their regular routine as a time when sticking to healthy habits is hopeless, it doesn’t need to be that way. You can have the time of your life and return in great shape. All it takes is a little planning, or what we like to call, the “personal trainer to-go” approach.
What Is This Idea of “Personal Trainer To Go”?
The idea here is simply that you make sure to factor fitness into your vacation schedule, just like you schedule working out into your regular home routine. Instead of unquestionably tossing out any change of maintaining your fitness while away, use physical activities to add to your vacation experiences, instead of seeing them as a chore. That is, the trick here is to make exercise fit within your holiday plans as naturally as possible and in ways that add to your trip and that you see as rewarding. That means getting creative.
If you work with a personal trainer, ask them to help you come up with a program and some goals. Or, take some time to make a program for yourself, or better yet, get your traveling companions involved, so everyone can get excited about what’s to come. Whatever approach you take, planning in advance will help put you in the “fun fitness vacation” mindset and give you time to seek out activities you may miss if you’re planning on the fly. If you know in advance that you’ll be taking on some activities you may not yet be prepared for, this also gives you time, and motivation, to train for those outings.
A clear thing to note is that your “to go” program likely won’t look much at all like the program you follow at home. And that’s just fine. Vacations are about doing new and different things; your on-the-road fitness focuses can be that way, too.
Strategies to Get Moving On Vacation
So what does your more active vacation look like? For starters, consider mixing active days with less active days, such that you have three-to-five particularly active days within a seven-day period, as you might at home. Seek out activities that you’ve always wanted to try or that get you to destinations that you couldn’t or might not otherwise get to. Consider these ideas to jump-start your planning process.
Self-Powered Sightseeing: Walk, Run, Cycle
One of the easiest ways to get some movement into your vacation is sightseeing on foot or by bike. You can go it on your own or join a tour. You’ll find “free” two- to three-hour walking tours in most major cities. Guides are typically well versed on the history and culture of the area—often they’re locals—and toss in good humor along the way. Payment is via your tip, in the amount you feel the tour was worth.
Cycling and even running tours are other options. Of course, you can run or cycle on your own: either rent bikes or utilize a city share-bike program; these programs allow you to pay for use of designated bikes, found in designated racks, for a period of time that you choose.
Enter a 5km or Find a Running Group
Running events and groups exist all over the world. Taking part in a local 5km (3.1 miles) or joining a group run is a fun way to meet locals, explore new areas, and enjoy the extra motivation of running with other people. You can also see if there’s a ParkRun in the area you’re visiting. ParkRuns are free and low-key timed 5km running/jogging events that happen in various cities the world over every Saturday morning. All you need to do is register online for your bar-code, print it out, bring it to a ParkRun, run (or jog or walk), and enjoy! ParkRuns have a well-earned reputation for being casual and welcoming to all-comers, and attract locals and visitors alike.
Fun On the Water
Vacations are a great time to engage in water sports, especially if beach or lake trips are your style. Kayaking and canoeing are wonderful ways to get out on the water and explore. And just about anywhere that’s hospitable to paddling sports, you’ll find outfits ready to rent you gear or take you on a tour. Half-, single-, and multi-day tours can get you to places you wouldn’t be able to experience any other way, and from a perspective you can only get by being on the water. This is also a great way to get away from the crowds, maybe even find your own stretch of shore where you can enjoy a picnic or relax.
Paddleboarding is another fun and easy way to be on the water. You could even check out a yoga/paddleboard combo. Oh yes, that’s a thing! This short video shows a beginning yoga sequence you can try on your next paddleboard outing:
Implement an After-Meal Walk Routine
While it’s great to attempt to stick to a healthy diet while on vacation, it’s also reasonable to think you may indulge a time or two. Taking a leisurely 20-minute walk after your meals is an excellent way to boost digestion and add to your daily movement quota. And it’ll just help you feel better and provide the opportunity to explore your surroundings.
Experiencing views from above is a favorite pursuit for just about anyone exploring a new place. Seek out area high points and hike to the top. Tackle one big climb, or string together a collection of smaller look-out points. Will you be viewing churches? A lot of them have towers you can climb: power-walk the staircase; it’s a great way to get your heart rate up! Whatever upward challenge you choose, you’ll be rewarded with amazing sights.
If you do want to make sure to maintain the strength you’ve been working on in the gym, you can set yourself up with a do-anywhere body-weight-based series of exercises. Work with your personal trainer to create a program or come up with your own. A few rounds of planks, crunches, squats, and lunges is something your can do just about anywhere! Work in some full range-of-motion mobility exercises to work out the kinks that are likely to result from long days of travel.
Go Active for the Whole Trip
There is always the option to make your whole vacation about activity. It’s easy to find companies all over the world that will take you hiking, biking, walking, kayaking—name your preferred movement, or combination thereof. Vendors to suit every duration, ability level, and interest are out there, and happy to facilitate your adventurous ambitions.
Or try a self-directed adventure, like the increasingly popular Camino de Santiago, or the Camino as many refer to it. While there are many starting points for this increasingly popular historic walking pilgrimage, the end point is the same: Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The most famous route—made popular in the 2010 movie The Way, among other outlets—begins in Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and covers roughly 800 kilometers (or just over 500 miles). This is the route former Body Balance trainer/now consultant Didi Lacroix and her husband, Alain, are currently on!
Whatever way you plan to infuse more movement into your time away, you can look forward to feeling fit and strong, and impressing your personal trainer upon your return.