Working Out Away From Home

While I’m in NYC, I’m not really doing any “formal” exercise. Kris and I will be walking around a lot, so I’ll be active, but I’m not planning on any specific workouts to do. This is largely related to the reasons that I am not counting calories while I am there – the trip is about spending time with Kris, not making sure I don’t gain a single pound! Plus, if you can’t tell, I am abysmal at giving my body rest days, so a few days off will probably be good for me.

Sometimes, however, I really do want to work out when out of town. This can be really difficult, especially if staying with family. I am an only child, so my family always wants all of my attention all of the time. When training for my half marathon, I thought for over a week in advance about how I was going to actually manage to run 9 miles while visiting them. This was actually more difficult for me in the past, when I had a fear of treadmills – I used to be completely unable to run in unfamiliar places if my only option was a treadmill! Since I’ve made some progress on this front, though, I thought I’d do a short post on tips on how to work out when away from home (and perhaps how to squeeze it in around difficult families, if you have that problem).

If you are staying in a hotel:

  • Make sure you know their fitness center policies. I once went to use a fitness center at 5 AM, assuming it was open 24 hours, but it was not! I had to wait until 6 AM to do my workout that day, and I was lucky I still had time. You might also want to make sure that you don’t have to pay for access (or, if you do, that you are ok with that).
  • Prepare some bodyweight workouts, just in case! There is usually enough room to do some pushups, squats, lunges, etc.
  • If you are sharing the room and don’t want to disturb the other person by working out, perhaps suggest going for a walk to explore this new location together, or head out for one on your own, if they are not interested.

Staying with friends/family:

  • Plan ahead! Think of good times, good locations, etc. You don’t want to assume you will be able to squeak your 10 mile run in before the big family bbq starts (people might show up early, you might get asked to help prepare). You also don’t want to just assume there is a good location for running 10 miles right out the door. You could probably check for local options on sites like runkeeper or mapmyrun.
  • If you think you will face naysayers, just try to avoid talking to them about it. You don’t want to waste the 30 minutes you had planned for your workout arguing with the person about why you don’t need to workout. Just try to avoid mentioning it. What usually works best for me is to get dressed, announce I am going to go run (you could probably avoid the announcement step if you aren’t leaving the house), and leave without discussing it. If I stick around to discuss it, I won’t go, because I won’t actually have any time left to run. One potential downside – this might necessitate being willing to wake up before everyone else.
  • Again, prepare bodyweight workouts, just in case you can’t do much else. I can usually do these in secret in the guestroom when visiting my family, giving them no opportunity to interrupt.

If all else fails: just try your best to watch your diet. I know this is difficult when traveling as well, but remember that weight loss/maintenance is more about keeping one’s diet in check than getting exercise. It is a lot easier for me to turn down a pastry than it is for me to sneak in a 30 minute run so that I can burn off the calories of said pastry. And remember – if it truly is a vacation, and this isn’t something you have to do regularly, a few days of poor eating choices will not derail you for life, as long as you return to old habits at home and try to keep up your new habits as best as possible while on your trip .

One major failing of this list: I don’t have good options for strength training on here – most hotel gyms don’t have barbells, and you obviously can’t borrow them from your local gym for a week. How do those of you who lift heavy keep up with workouts when out of town?

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