FROM THE LOCKER ROOM: The Trials of the Traveling Amateur Athlete

hotel-room-workoutTaking some time off or a vacation (or even a stay-cation or work-cation) is something I’ve only recently learned to do in my life.  Earlier in my career, I would hoard sick days in the hopes of a vacation or trip away that would never come.  The best I would get was a day off for the flu or pink eye, or maybe some state or national holiday.  Eleven years later and 8 jobs removed, I’ve learned the value of taking some time off, even if it means running out of sick days and not being the ‘full time unappreciated martyr’ at work or at home.  I’ve also learned that value of taking work related trips whether it’s for a conference, networking or business.

There is something about time away that brings new life and meaning to the daily grind. However, I’ve also learned that time off from regular work doesn’t have to mean time away from your work out.  In fact, work out time in a new city or country can be just as  exciting, rewarding and refreshing as sight seeing, sun tanning and catching up with friends and family.  The question is simply a matter of making time for it and being somewhat innovative, creative or daring.

If your up for an adventure, research local gyms in your travel destination and call ahead to find out drop in fees or short term contracts. Most gyms will allow you to train or use their facility for somewhat nominal fees for a week or so. For the martial arts inclined, it’s often a truly fun experience to train overseas and learn new methods or techniques.  In fact, you may already belong to a national chain of gyms that has branches in many places.  I’ve enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences between the local versions of these chains, often pleasantly surprised at the offerings and quality control across the country. Plus, it’s fun to drive around new foreign cities and really explore what life is like outside of your possibly tourist trap hotel.

For those times when your only option is the broke down hotel gym, you know the one with the 1980’s era treadmill and elliptical machine, there is still hope for a good workout. Starting on the treadmill and/or elliptical, which ever one is functioning and not occupied, can be a great warm up for 10 to 15 minutes.  Next move on to body weight exercises if no free weights are available.  Only your imagination (or prior injuries) can limit you here.  Use your phone and download a tabata timer, and run yourself through a range of cardio based, leg, arm, and abdominal exercises including squats, lunges, push ups, sits ups, bear crawls, mountain climbers, crunches galore!  For ideas, it always easy to find tabata workouts on-line which can be printed out or accessed depending on your internet access.  Interval training really is your best friend on the road.  All you need is a timer, a little bit of space, some imagination and your sneakers and the sky is the limit.

Finally, my old favorite stand by, is simply running.  I love to run almost everywhere I travel.  It’s a wonderful way to really enjoy the place you are visiting and see another aspect of a city, country, wherever you are. Look ahead and find out runners routs, paths, parks, beaches or just go run around your immediate area (assuming it’s safe). You will be amazed at all of the little nuances of a new environment you will discover just by taking a run.  For example, to this day, I vividly remember running in Bath, England and noticing some of the beautiful quirks of the English country side including the chalk, geographic figures and statues of white horses and people.  While you can drive past these details and snap a photo, there is nothing like experiencing them from the ground up. All your need is your sneakers and some semblance of running clothes and your ready to go.  Now that’s traveling light!

So now that I’m a recovering work-aholic and dedicated amateur athlete of sorts, I’m always looking for my next vacation work out.  Consider it next time you travel.  You sincerely won’t be disappointed.  It may even be one of the most memorable parts of your next vacation.

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