How to fit in those pesky (but important!) workouts – even on the road

Work it out

I know: It’s hard enough to stay on the exercise track in your usual environment, striving to find a balance between work, family, activities and fitness – but it’s even tougher on the road, when your schedule is out of your control, routines are gone, and your hotel workout room is no help at all.

This is a matter of personal interest: I am currently staying in a hotel (that shall remain nameless), lovely in all aspects except its fitness centre. Fifteen minutes on either of the two creaky pieces of equipment available and I’ve had enough of the stuffy broom closet.

How do the experts do it? The first priority: “Decide. Am I going to maintain my regimen/workout while travelling?” says Fred Aylward (aka Fit by Fred), a Halifax-based fitness and lifestyle coach. “These are captains of industry we’re talking about, correct? Once a true decision is made, most will follow through.”

Next: get organized. Schedule those workouts into your calendar – make an appointment with a local personal trainer if you need to – and don’t show up late.

“These folks,” (Aylward is talking about you, dear reader) “are owning, operating, or managing tremendous businesses in our community. They . . . just need to remember to plan their energy and time for something other than business meetings.”

Research nearby fitness centres. If you have a trainer, ask for travel-friendly workouts. At the very least, pack your gym clothes.

Now you have the intention – you just need the time, right? Don’t we all.

Laurissa Manning, a personal trainer and owner of Core Essentials fitness studio, says, “the biggest challenge I hear from my ‘corporate’ clients is finding time to actually work out.” The days are packed, the evenings full of receptions and networking events, many flowing with food and booze.

Get up and get ‘er done. “Getting up 30 to 40 minutes before your work day begins and training for 20 minutes will get your day off to a great start,” says Manning.

“Get in your workout as early as possible,” agrees Mathew Benvie, owner of Evolve Fitness, a private fitness studio in Halifax. Be efficient about it and you don’t need hours – not even an hour. “Focus on ‘big’ movements that involve multiple muscle groups . . . Focus on pushing and pulling movements like squats, dead lifts, push-ups and pull-ups.”

If you can’t get to a gym, or the one in your hotel is unbearable, get to work right in your room. Benvie suggests doing body weight exercises (no need to pack anything!); Manning recommends packing a resistance band for strength training and a skipping rope for cardio. Not sure what resistance band or bodyweight exercises are all about? Head to YouTube. You’ll find great ideas there.

Heading out for a run is a fun way to see a new place (do take your phone and ask the hotel staff for route suggestions). Most hotels also have long stairwells that are perfect for intense, effective cardio.

Honour Roll I asked around for recommendations of good hotel fitness facilities in Atlantic Canada. The Delta chain and the Westin in Halifax get high marks. Not only does the Westin have an up-to-date fitness centre (with a hot tub) but it also has a program called Ready, Set, Run Westin. “It’s a running tour of the city led by one of the concierges,” describes Manning. Perfect for those of us who tend to get lost.

YMCAs are another great resource, especially if you’re looking for lap pools, child minding and drop-in classes. If you’re not a member of a chain gym, avoid them – their rates tend to be high.

“If you are in a town that has a university or college, they usually have reasonable day pass rates,” adds Benvie. “You can also look online for gyms in the area that might have a free week trial or some other promotion.”

I’ve come to think it can be a bit of an adventure: a chance to try a new yoga studio, fitness class, trainer, or running route. There’s no cooking or cleaning or chores required on a business trip – why not take the time to treat yourself?

Fred Aylward makes another great point: for any fitness plan to work, you have to know yourself. “Choose self-serving workouts. When do I most need my exercise time? At the start of the day to get my motor running or by day’s end to bust the stress of the day and to re-focus on personal goals?”

Now. Get to work!

Stephanie Porter
About Stephanie Porter

Stephanie Porter is a freelance writer and editor living in St. John’s. In 2003, she helped launch The Independent, a spirited weekly newspaper distributed across Newfoundland and Labrador, known for its investigative news and features. Stephanie was managing editor of the paper until its untimely demise in 2008. She has also worked as a reporter and writer for Downhome magazine, the Express (also now defunct), The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, picking up Atlantic Journalism Awards for her feature and news writing. Stephanie is delighted to be a regular contributor to Atlantic Business Magazine. Photo Credit: Paul Daly.

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